For about 2 years before my time at nectar, I felt kind of weird when people asked me what I did for a living. I would tilt my head and sheepishly mutter, “Well… I do video… and design… and you know… sell used cars…” This would immediately trigger a kind of surprised, humorous response about typical used car salesmen being unsavory or sleazy. I embraced the humor in it, and also appreciated that people saw me as a departure from the stereotype (Fig. 1). I took pride in that, and while over time I would become pretty weary and exhausted by “the biz”, I did learn some of the most important lessons of my career in that tumultuous environment.
In retrospect, my experience on the lot was the fastest period of growth I’ve ever had as an adult. After 2 years of “pounding the pavement (or *sand, depending on the customer)” I no longer experienced fear or anxiety about work. I had accepted that on a good day, only a few raging infernos would need to be put out, but at least you’d get to eat lunch… which is a luxury. And no matter how crazy things got, the best thing you could do was get out of your head, and calmly listen to the people around you.
It’s the key to success as a salesman: listening and understanding under pressure. You have to hear and process the perspectives of clients if you are going to get anywhere with them. You can’t push your agenda onto theirs. It’s like trying to sell a Miata to a family of 4. Bad salesmen do that and it gets all the attention, but if you’ve ever had a good salesmen then you’ll know the difference. I’m still using the same mannerisms and techniques I learned from my time on the lot, only now I’m not selling people cars; I’m selling them ideas that can take their businesses to the next level. I listen to their hopes, dreams, needs and budget, and I help them find their voice… and maybe a Miata along the way… for old time’s sake.
* “Go pound sand” is a shortened form of the phrase “go pound sand down a rat hole.” Anyone with intelligence and common sense knows that pounding sand down a rat hole is an idiotic waste of time. Commonly used in the car business in reference to negotiations between parties that cannot agree.