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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

be a seller, not a teller

Yeah, that's right: be a seller, not a teller. That's the motto of the car dealership I work at.

Here's the deal: I've been there about 6 weeks now. I'm half a car off from first place on the board. (A half a car is when one saleman turns over (TOs) a customer to another salesman, so they split the commission - it happens.)

I'm half a car out of first place, but I've been told something that I thought was pointed out to me in an effort to destroy my confidence or deflate my ego, or both; I wasn't sure. Turns out, even though I didn't like the delivery of the message, or the timing of the message, I happen to think the message is worth listening to.

The one salesman says to me, "Boris, how many sales have you made to people who were looking for a car that we didn't have on the lot?"


"So what you're telling me is, you've only sold to people because we had exactly what they were looking for, right?"

"Yeah - so what?"

"What's going to happen when your luck runs out, and everyone you talk to wants something that we don't have? Will you just turn them away and tell them to go somewhere else because we don't have what they were looking for?"

"Well, uh..."

"Never thought about that, did you?"

"Well, uh..."

"So you're going to say, 'Hey Mr. Customer-man, uh, we don't have exactly what you want, so why don't you just ease on down the road to one of our competitors, while I quietly sit here in the corner and go broke.' is that what you have planned?"

"Well, uh..."

"You're a teller, not a seller."

"Say what?"

"How much money do tellers at the bank make?"

"I guess minimum wage if they're lucky."

"Know why?"


"Because that's all they're worth. The customer: 'Can I get that withdraw in 20s?/Could you deposit this in my checking?/Do you sell traveler's cheques?' Those are all yes or no questions. Seems to me, like you're answering alot of yes-or-no questions. 'Do you have this car in stock? No? OK, I'll just go somewhere else; bye!' I know you've been selling cars, but isn't that what's been going on?"

"Your point?"

"Well, like I said, what's going to happen when your luck runs out and everyone you talk to wants something other than what we have on the lot?"


"I can see this got the gears going, huh? You know, luck runs out for the new guys sooner or later. From that point on, you're going to have to rely on skill. Do you have skill?"

"I guess."

"If someone walks on this lot and says, 'Do you have this car, or that truck, with this feature, or that feature, and you know damn good and well we don't have it, could you sell them something we do have, instead?"


"Jerry does - and so do I."


"Bypass price and inventory questions."


"When a customer asks a price or inventory question, it's just a ploy so they can scratch you off their list. You're just helping them eliminate you as their salesman. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing personal, but the bank doesn't mind if you skip a mortgage payment or two, do they? According to NADA statistics, 86% of people bought a car that was different from the one they originally set out to buy - you're selling 0% of those people. Get it?"

"Tell me about this 'by-pass' thing."

"OK. Let's say you have a customer who says they have to have a 4x4 extended cab truck and all we have is a 2 wheel drive crew cab. What do you say?"


"That's why they walk away. You don't talk your way into a sale, you ask your way into a sale. He who asks the questions, controls the conversation; he who controls the conversation, gets what he wants. Dig?"

"I don't get it."

"Well, you ask this guy if he's willing to pay a huge amount for four wheel drive. Then, he might ask you, 'How much extra would I pay for four wheel drive?' You say, 'I don't know, proabably about $3,000. Is four wheel drive worth $3,000 to you? No? OK then, just make me an offer on this two wheel drive then.' "

"Yeah, but I don't know the differences in option packages like you do."

"Like I do? You think I keep that shit in my head?"

"You said, 'Four wheel drive would proabably cost an additional $3,000.' "

"Oh, so you think I know that for sure?"

"Hey, you're the one who said it."

"You didn't pay attention: I said, 'I don't know, probably around $3,000; do you want to pay $3,000 four wheel drive?' The important thing for you to note is, I qualified my statement with, 'I don't know....' but I implied that I do know. See the difference? A teller would just say, 'No, we don't have an extended cab in four wheel drive.' A seller would by-pass the inventory question with, 'I don't know, probably about $3,000; did you want to pay $3,000 for four wheel drive, or would you like to just make me an offer on this truck we have right here?' Nobody wants to pay an additional $3,000 for anything, so if the four wheel drive thing is simply an excuse and not an objection, you'll find out right there, and blow past people who just want to throw as many uneccessary obstacles in the way as they can. They want to buy a car, but they're just afraid to spend the money - even though they know they have to. They'll spend it alright, but it won't be on you, unless you can spot this subconcious buyers technique, which is really just a coping mechanism designed to help them handle how much money they're about to spend. See what I mean?"

"Yeah, thanks!"

I just thought of this while reading Maya's blog. She just got a job at a roofing company. She deals with intimidating old people. I deal with those too - they're called the top salesmen, and they get whatever they want. I feel your pain Maya, I really do. This'll be motivation to stay in school!