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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, 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 “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 and 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,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 clam me down.This transaction started at about maybe 10 in the morning as I recall,and 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 Salesmen!
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,sold a lot of cars and trucks and made a few dollars.As I recall is was early in the morning and I was always either on the phone,in service,on the lot or at the door.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,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 with what crooks sleazy car salesmen are and 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.Car picked out,price settled on[another mini] she pulls out a check,pays for the car,I get it cleaned 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” and she left……..end of story?….ummmm no!
Let’s go back to my wife being full term with our second child,she goes into labor,I leave work,take her to the hospital we are in the delivery room and 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 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 all good and the good Nurse upon leaving reminded me that now not only did she buy the car from me,I didn’t sell it to her I also didn’t delivery my child,she did!
Those are mine,if it was your first sale or a very unique one….keep it clean….please share it I’d love to hear them…memories are pretty cool in our business,let’s share some.