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What was yours like?

I started selling cars in the summer of 1974 at a single point Plymouth Dealership in Canton Ohio, Canton Plymouth. We advertised as the “World’s Largest Exclusive Plymouth Dealership”, which probably was true due to the fact there were at that time only about 40 other dealerships in the country that just sold Plymouths, without the Chrysler line up as well.


My “training” pretty much consisted of trying to listen in to guys that were about 90 years old talking to customers, watching an 8 millimeter film by Vince Lombardi called “Make That Second Effort” and reading a book by Frank Bettger called “How I raised myself from a failure to a success in selling”. I was shown where the cars were, the keys and jumper cables. I also was told to “Close early, Close often, Can I help ya, would ya take, are you buying today and low ball them if they weren't.


My first actual sale took place after making about 500 very cold phone calls out of the local phone book with a “pitch” that went like this; ” Hello is this Mrs. Abbot? She says yes... So I say, “Your new Fury is ready for delivery, is tomorrow morning or afternoon better for you to stop in and pick it up?” she would say,”I didn't buy a Fury!” My reply would be, “Oh, I’m sorry, well as long as I have you on the phone…" etc. Guess my manager wanted me to get over the fear of making phone calls, I was the youngest salesman on the floor by about 25 years it seemed.


I totally messed up the next 10-12 customers by saying or doing something stupid until... Reverend Right [Not real name] walked in one morning.

The good Reverend Right was holding two things; a Bible and some information on the 1974 Plymouth Valiant. At this point in both my selling life and personal life I was pretty much useless with anyone over the age of 40... That mixed in with a man of God really had me trembling.

Reverend Right picked up on the fact that I was new to selling cars. This was mostly due to that also being part of my training... Tell every customer you’re new for a couple of years! So, he tried his very best to make this easy and calm me down. This transaction started at about maybe 10 in the morning, as I recall. Just 7 short hours later, the Reverend was driving home in his brand new 1974 Valiant.


I was pretty pumped up! I went into the sales office looking at the sales board, located my name at the very bottom and took the chalk into my hand and put up my first 1 next to my name. I didn't really even care that the deal was a “mini” and my commission was $20 bucks, I was now officially a Professional Car Salesman!


I know this blog is titled "My First Sale" and the First time in anything is pretty cool and memorable... Probably shouldn't go any further with that line of thinking. But there is one other deal of the nearly 2000 cars I sold in my 5 years on the floor that I want to share with you all.


January 1979,my wife was pregnant with our second child [Erica] and by this time I had become a pretty good salesperson. I sold a lot of cars and trucks and made a few dollars. As I recall, it was early in the morning and I was always either on the phone, in service, on the lot, or at the door. On this morning, I was walking the lot when a car pulled in and... Nurse Hatchet [not real name] got out of her car. Now, I know if you have sold cars for any amount of time at all, you come across a “difficult” client from time to time. I will put Nurse Hatchet up against any that you ever had! Once again, a 7-8 hour ordeal, that got to the point of her and I just seeing who could be more nasty to one another. I would be “winning” for 30-45 minutes, amazing her with my brilliant salesmanship [total lies and baloney], but then she would make a comeback and take the lead for the next hour or so. Telling me what crooks sleazy car salesmen are, and asking me how could I sleep at night, etc.


This literally went on for hours, she wouldn't leave and even though my manager told me to kindly ask her to take her business elsewhere, I was for sure going to SELL Nurse Hatchet a car! We had the car picked out, the price was settled [another mini], when she pulls out a check and pays for the car in full. I get it all cleaned up, and as I hand her the keys she says, "You know, young man, you didn't SELL me this car... I bought it!” I felt my face get red, and said back to her, “Well it was my pleasure and happy depreciation.” Then she left... End of story ...Ummmm no!


Let’s go back to my wife being full term with our second child.. When she went into labor, I leave work and take her to the hospital. We are in the delivery room when guess who walks in? Yep... Nurse Hatchet! I nearly fell to my knees and babbled something like, "please this is my wife and my baby, I’m just a regular guy, I sell cars to provide for my family and if I offended you, I’m sorry!" and go on and on... She was very cool, very calm, told me not to worry... She was a PROFESSIONAL.


The delivery went fine... Mom and baby being all good. The good Nurse, upon leaving, reminded me that now not only did she buy the car from me, and I didn’t sell it to her... But that I also didn't deliver my child, she did!


Those are mine, if it was your first sale or a very unique one… Please share it with us. Keep it clean… I’d love to hear them… Memories are pretty cool in our business, let’s share some.

Views: 336

Tags: My First Sale, Plymouth, Professional, car business, salesman, salesperson, selling cars


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Comment by Craig Lockerd on December 18, 2012 at 8:52am

Hooked is right Stan.....My dad said to me..."To bad a business to get into and to good to get out of"...= hooked Thanks for the story

Comment by Craig Lockerd on December 18, 2012 at 8:51am

whoa.....that is a memorable first one Greg!

Comment by Stan Sher on December 18, 2012 at 7:32am

My first car deal was a Hyundai Sonata one day after I finished sales training   I delivered the car and the same day the customer referred their brother to me who also came in and bought a Hyundai Sonata.  It was then that I realized I was hooked and the car business is my future.

Comment by Gregory Gershman on December 18, 2012 at 4:22am

1991, My first car deal was a new Roadmaster Sedan to Theodore Berg.  He was about 85, it was my first day on the floor and he spot delivered in the car.
I went home that night all happy, had a great meal, and went to bed.  About 1 am my phone rings, startled me out of my sleep.
Roadmasters had a cover over the lock cylinder for the trunk.  Mr Berg had gone grocery shopping that afternoon, and since about 2 pm had been unable to figure out how to get the trunk open again.

Comment by Craig Lockerd on December 17, 2012 at 6:27am

Chuck,Ralph...thanks for the stories!

Comment by Ralph Rasmuson on December 16, 2012 at 6:41pm

I remember vividly my first "close" as a sales manager. We lost $400 on the deal. I overappraised the trade by $300. BUT, I ended up dating the gal who bought this Chevette for about two years!

Comment by Chuck Thomas on December 16, 2012 at 5:48pm

Instead of my first car sale, let me tell you about my first couple of days in the automobile industry.  I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go through an extensive training program before I started my automotive career.  We began on a Saturday morning, there were six of us "rookies."  We attended our first sales meeting at 8:00 a.m. and arrived to meet our new general manager, Al Frank (not real name), aka "The Bear."  The six rookies sat through the sales meeting and were held after the meeting to be formally introduced as a group to "The Bear."  

Our new general manager proceeded to tell us, "You, [expletive] rookies, I've got two [expletive] rules: don't be late for my [expletive] meetings, and don't wreck my [expletive] cars."  

Well, me being the extroverted A-personality that I am, I quickly raised my hand and asked The Bear what our schedule was.  

"SCHEDULE!?  SCHEDULE?!! I'LL TELL YOU WHAT YOUR [expletive] SCHEDULE IS!  YOU'RE ON THE [expletive] B SCHEDULE," he screamed, staring at me with fire in his eyes.  

Again, not knowing any better, I raised my hand.  "Uh, what's the B schedule?"


Well that answered that question.  That day, a Saturday, I proceeded to sell 3 cars and made myself about $1,200.  At that time, they still had demonstrators, and at the end of the day, they had our brand new 1985 Ford Escorts, cleaned up, polished up, shining, lined up in a row and they proceeded to hand us our keys.  Thank goodness, at that time, and in the marketplace that I started my career, they had blue laws which did not allow us to open on Sundays, so we did, in fact, have a day off.  A young man, not quite 21, having made himself $1,200, driving a brand new car, I was on top of the world.

Monday morning came, up early, dressed for success, ready to go to work, eager, excited, ready to begin my 2nd day in the automotive industry, I came outside to discover I had no gas in my car.  I went to the gas station, filled it up and began to exit from the gas station directly behind a school bus.  With no warning at all, the school bus began to back up. I heard the beep-beep-beep of the reverse signal of the school bus, and unfamiliar with my new vehicle/company demonstrator, I could not find the gear shift to put it into reverse in time.  The bus backed right into my brand new 1985 Ford Escort, destroying the front bumper and hood.  I called the police, obviously, but my next call was to my boss, The Bear. I not only had to tell him that I was going to be late for his [expletive] meeting, but I was also going to be late because I wrecked his [expletive] car.  Welcome to the car business.

Comment by Craig Lockerd on December 16, 2012 at 9:14am

Paul,that is a GREAT story,thanks for sharing it....Like you said,feels great to get that first one

Comment by Paul Green on December 15, 2012 at 7:41pm

My first sale was a used 1982 Buick Skyhawk sedan when I was 16 years old working at my father's used car lot back in 1987. Back then, we used to have a lot of New York buyers drive down to South Jersey, because they thought the cars were a lot cheaper down here. He was a tough buyer, and I know I didn't hold much of a gross, but it felt good to get that first one.

When I was 18 I took a job in Wildwood, NJ at a Buick Pontiac dealer. I wanted to make it on my own, and my father used to buy most of the wholesale cars from this dealership. The dealer principal appraised all the trade ins. He was off on a Saturday, so the sales manager did all the appraisals. I had an up on a new Regal, and they wanted an appraisal of their trade. The sales manager didn't think they were serious, so he wouldn't appraise their trade. I appraised it myself, since I figured I had a checkbook to back up anything I put on the car. I presented them with the numbers but couldn't close them.

That following Monday, they came back and decided to take the car. The sales manager was furious that I appraised the trade and complained to our dealer principal. The dealer principal and I took the trade out together to look at it again. He asked me "you counted this for $2,500 and closed them?" and I said yes. After delivery, he called the other salesman and the sales manager in, and announced that I was the new used car manager. At the ripe old age of 18, I felt like I just hit the lottery.

Comment by Craig Lockerd on December 13, 2012 at 10:30am

Thanks Tom,I think every story is cool,and the thing is we all remember them I think based on the feeling we got from that first time.Coll that your desk Mgr and you are still together as well!

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