The Most Feared People in America

Let's face facts. No one likes to come see us. I mean, people like to come see me, but not us. To a lot of people, we are the enemy. We are the people that are trying to get them to pay more for a car than they should. We are the people that smile to their faces while trying to work them for the most money we can get out of them.

They're right.

Our income depends on us getting you to buy the vehicle for what we're asking for it. Do you go to McDonald's and ask for a discount? How about Wal-Mart? No? Then why would you ask me? My personal income depends on you buying the car for an amount that lets the dealership and myself make money. There isn't a ton of markup in the vehicles that we sell, at least not usually. Couple that with the Internet making things tougher for all of us, and you have the makings of a situation that is rapidly becoming no-win.

Why are people afraid of us? I don't know for sure, but I have a few theories. People know that salespeople work on commission. We don't make any money unless we sell something. The sheer amount of personal self-belief and self-reliance that makes us able to not only do that, but to thrive doing it makes people uncomfortable. When I say thrive, I'm not talking about your cousin Benny that tried his hand at selling cars, moved a little bit of iron, and decided that it wasn't for him. No. I'm talking about guys like me and the guys I work with that have carved out their own piece in the barren wasteland. I've sold for three years. If you can sell cars for three years and not file bankruptcy, you're doing something right.

People also might be afraid of us because we are the greatest actors outside of Hollywood. People have a lot of built-up defenses to us, so we have developed our own. A lot of salespeople, before they greet a customer for the first time, take a deep breath before they do so. We call that "putting on the face". We don't know if that customer has ever been to the dealership before, so we need to give them the best first impression that we can. And that, I think, is what people are afraid of the most. They are afraid to meet someone that they believe likes them, but in actuality couldn't care less.

I have a handful of customers that I genuinely like. It's not a long list. These customers have not only purchased, but have brought people to me, as well. I have a young married couple that I would count in the top five of my favorite customers. They're under 30, both of them. They have decent paying jobs; the wife works for an insurance company and the husband works in the factory. They just had a handsome little baby boy. In three years, they have bought 3 vehicles for themselves, and also brought their parents and neighbors in to buy, resulting in 2 sales. That's 5 vehicles in three years. If they needed me to run through a wall for them, I would. In a heartbeat.

Those wonderful people are the exception to the rule. Most customers, to be honest, are pricks. Example: I helped this guy out one time, it was during my first full year selling. With his wife, we spent 2 hours searching for and driving new pickup trucks. He was polite, cordial, and even had the odd off-color comment. We sat down to write up the deal. I went into the manager's office and came back with the deal write up. This customer, who had been laughing and joking with me not 10 minutes prior, snatched the write up out of my hand before I could set it on the table. After 3 seconds of analysis, the guy stood up and said, "You guys aren't giving me shit for my trade!" His jovial manner was gone, replaced by some ogre. "Come on, let's go!" he said to his wife as he stormed out the door. His wife gave me a momentary look of quiet understanding and apology, then got up to follow him out. I sat there, shocked. This asshole just wasted 2 hours out of my day. Time is money. It takes a nanosecond to lose a customer to another hungry salesman, and who knows how many customers I didn't get to talk to because I was dealing with that stronzo.

But not every customer is like that goofball. Thank God.

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