Confessions of a Car Man


There's No Night Like The First Night

When I was a young aspiring Car Man, I worked with a salesman named Bill Blount. Bill was the proto-typical dirty old man. Just about everything that came out of his mouth had some sort of sexual connotation. He was a homely man, slightly hunchbacked, who spoke in a booming baritone and was fond of singing off-key country-western songs in the middle of the showroom floor.

Bill was always willing to share his perverted views of the world. His favorite saying by far was “a suck is a suck”. (There is a really great story behind that little tidbit. If you want to read about it check out my blog entry posted on November 13, 2007.) But Bill had another favorite expression, and that is what I want to talk about here. He used to say, “There’s no night like the first night.”

Bill usually used this term while recounting his weekend hunts for what he called “old stoves” with his wingman Roger Marvel—or as I liked to call him, The Captain. Together they would prowl the singles bars of the East Bay that catered to an older crowed looking for desperate women of a certain age.

Bill also used this saying when talking about customers. He would often look at me and say, “You know, David, there’s no night like the first night.” What the hell was this old coot talking about? I just thought he was messing with me. Then one day, long after Bill had gone to that big used car lot in the sky, I realized what he meant. He was trying to tell me that my first encounter with a customer was the best chance to make a deal and hold a decent gross.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for following up the customers you "up" on the lot if for no other reason than it gives you something to do during your down times. But a wise Car Man knows that the best chance at making a decent commission is when you first encounter them. Follow-up calls, or as I like to call them begging calls, generally mean less money. Every time you call a prospect and try to entice them back your commission gets smaller and smaller.

So if you’re going to work the lot, your aim should not be to accumulate prospects, your goal should be to sell them a car NOW. When you go out to face them ask yourself this: would I rather have a nice commission now or a mini later? Now whore that I am I will take the mini later if I have to. But I do so grudgingly and it really pisses me off. We work hard and should be rewarded for our efforts. The Others are always looking for ways to screw us. Don’t let them do it to you!

So with this philosophy in mind, it's important that you become a pro at selling a car right now. For any of The Others who might have stumbled across the blog this does not mean ripping people off. It does not mean dishonesty. It does not mean any of the screwed up things you think you know about us. It means doing a professional job and earning a living for your family.

Now if I don’t say so myself I’m pretty good at selling a car right now—assuming the customer wants to buy a car in the first place. I’m not very good at convincing people to buy who don’t really want to. I’ll leave all those fancy closes to those fancy sales trainers. What I’m good at is recognizing a buyer and doing the correct things to maximize my chances of the both of us going home happy.

A lot of people think that there is some special time at the end of the sale where you say some magical words and close the deal. And though there always is a final professionally executed closing question, a car deal is made up of a series of many mini closes. From the moment you meet and greet a customer, you are closing them. The smile on your face is the first close. In those critical few seconds when your eyes lock with theirs and the first impressions are made the closing begins.


UP NEXT: Have Them See You As Human

On The Lot With David Teves

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I sold a car today and made a $2460 commission. I say this not to brag (well, maybe a little) but to point out a simple truth about our business: It’s a hard life, frustrating at times to the point of madness. Sometimes you look out over the lot and ask yourself, why the hell did I go down the road that led to this shit? Then you hit a grand slam. The universe rights itself a little and you remember the good things about selling iron for a living!

Later in the day, I waited on a lady. About forty, I’d guess. She told me she was going to buy a truck soon. She looked at me with sad eyes and said, “My husband of twenty years decided he didn’t want to be married anymore.”

Here I’d just made this huge pop and reality stepped in to deliver a message about the human condition! You take the good and savor it. You take the bad and try to deal with it as best (and as ethically) as you can.

Life goes on.

The big commission is now in the past.


P.S. Sorry for the delay in my next installment. I got involved in a project involving the 7538 songs in my iTunes library and it derailed me. (Thanks Scott!) Now that it’s done I hope to be on track with useless advice in the next few days.