The Car Salesman

When I received word from the mechanic regarding how much it was going to cost to repair my car it became evident that my Accord and I are going to have to part ways. It has a bunch of age related illnesses that all need to be addressed and I don’t see the upside in doing them now, too much money for too little return.

In light of this I have begun the long and arduous process of buying a new vehicle. So yesterday on the way home I decided to stop off at a local Honda dealer to look around and try and get a better sense of what kind of vehicle we want to replace the old one.

I wasn’t there for more than 10 minutes when the first vulture swooped down on me. Ok, that is not fair, he was not a vulture, he was more like an oompa loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Ok, that is not fair either, he was not fat nor strangely colored, but he was about 5’4 and maybe a 110 pounds.

He had a white collar shirt on, gold chain necklace, slicked back hair and a handshake that would make a dead fish feel powerful. He asked me what I was looking for and I said “Alameda, I am looking for nuclear wessels.”

Consider that one of my many bad jokes (50 cents to anyone who can identify the reference) and let us move on.

The look of bewilderment on his face never quite disappeared. I am not sure if it was there prior to my poor attempt at humor, but it was glued on after.

He asked me again what I was looking for and I told him a Honda Odyssey. He smiled and said that it was a good choice and ran off a few features from memory. Here they are:

  1. It is a minivan.
  2. It is a really good minivan.
  3. I should buy this minivan.
  4. It is easy to pick up single mothers with a minivan. (Actually he didn’t say that right then, but he did include it within the conversation and it is just too rich not to report.

FWIW, I threw him again when I responded to his comment about single mothers by using the worn out expression of “Good, I am a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.”

Eventually he realized that we were standing in the middle of the lot and were surrounded by hundreds of cars, but not a single van. As a salesman I am very critical of other salespeople and not always the easiest guy to deal with, but I was so amused by his pitch and skill that instead of suggesting that we go look at the vehicle together I waited the 10 minutes it took for him to suggest that we go look at the Odyssey.

He took me to a corner of the lot where three of them were parked in a row and asked me if I could afford to buy the high end model we were standing in front of. I was impressed by his direct approach and told him that not only could I afford it, I was thinking of purchasing three of them because I need one, my wife needs one and we need a spare in case one of ours breaks down.

The greedy look in his eyes told me that he bought that line of hooey hook line and sinker and I began to consider other ways to help him waste my time.

In the interim he opened the door and I took a few minutes to explore the interior. I was impressed, if you have to drive a van this could be a good option and potentially the fulfillment of a fantasy from my youth. I always wanted a van.

Of course I should add that in those dreams it was more along the lines of an old VW Camper Van or one of the 1970’s vans you see in those Cheech and Chong movies. The big difference is that when you open the doors on my van you are not going to be greeted by a wall of bluish smoke.

I hadn’t been daydreaming for more than a moment when John the former oompa loompa midget dwarf salesman with the slicked back hair and incredible sales technique was suggesting that we skip a test drive and go inside to meet with his manager and discuss payment terms.

So I asked him if they had an abacus or a slide rule because I have trouble with my figures. Smart guy says yes and then five minutes later asks me “what is an abacus?”

I didn’t care that he didn’t know, but I was irritated that he just said yes because it indicated that he wasn’t listening to me and that is a cardinal sin. If you are a salesman you must always always always listen to your customer.

They will tell you what they want and what they need. Your job is to listen and respond by showing them how you can meet those needs. And now a recap of the last five minutes of my trip to the dealer.

“What can I do to sell you this car today?
“Probably nothing, I really am more interested in looking.”
“Does this mean that you were kidding about buying three cars?
“No.”
“Really? Why would you say that and then tell me that you are not going to buy a car.”
“Has it occurred to you that I told you twice that I was here to do research and not to buy.”
“Oh yeah, right. Ok, what else do you want to know?

I paused and kept back my smartass retort.

“Why should I pick this car over the Toyota Sienna?”
“Because everyone knows that Honda is better and that this car will drive better.”
“Sorry, that is not an answer, I need details, specifics. What can you do to provide that to me?”
“Why don’t we go talk to my manager?”
“Sorry, I don’t have time for that now.”
“Sir, please come with me. I can guarantee that I can sell you this for any monthly payment you can afford.”
“Ok, I want it for $125 a month.”
“That I cannot do.”
“You just told me that you can give it to me for any price.”
“I did, but I didn’t mean it like that.”

I finally looked at him and said goodbye. There is more that I could share, more inane comments and silly looks, but I think that I have rattled on long enough about this for now.

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