If you’re like me, the thought of walking onto a car lot and dealing with a salesperson is right up there with a root canal. Like a pack of hyenas, they gather at the highest point of the dealership where they can quickly spot any potential victim that strays into their territory.

Once spotted, the lead hyena breaks from the pack and snakes their way around the lot, trying to predict your path and the ideal place of attack. At that point, the attack can take many different forms. Most often, it is some sort of weak attempt to lull you into a sense of security by trying to be funny or asking a non-threatening question like, “In the market for a car?” I want to tell them, “No, my daughter just ran away and I’m making sure she’s not hiding in one of these cars.” Of course I’m in the market – why else would I be wasting a beautiful day walking around a car lot!

Salespeople Should Be Experts

I just want my salesperson to be a source of information to help me make the best buying decision based on my needs. Even this can be a great source of frustration. Thanks to the internet, there is no shortage of information and opinions on any given product. Anyone who knows how frugal I am knows that the time I spend researching a product is exponential to the amount of money I’m spending (e.g., I nearly became a gemologist before getting engaged).

In short, if I’m buying a car, I already have a good understanding of the various packages, advantages, areas of concern, etc. So, when I ask if a particular car has a certain feature, I don’t want my salesperson to say, “Not sure about that one, let me do some research.” If your only job is to sell these cars, how hard is it to become an expert on them?

used car salesman

Photo Courtesy of: internettradeshows.com

How Sales Should Work

A real salesperson shouldn't be trying to sell you anything. They should just guide you through the decision process, be able to answer your questions, and provide whatever information you require. Unfortunately, the barriers to be a salesperson aren't exactly up there with doctors and lawyers, so these attributes are often hard to come by. Even worse, many salespeople are commission-based, so their need to make a sale is often more important to them than any of your needs.

A real salesperson shouldn't be trying to sell you anything. They should just guide you through the decision process, be able to answer your questions, and provide whatever information you require.

In my experience, unknowledgeable or unprofessional salespeople either:

  1. Make very few sales and get fired or…
  2. Make a lot of sales in a short period of time, then move on to something else when the unsatisfied clients start piling up.

You should also know that when I say “in my experience,” this is based on over 40 years of being a salesperson.

My Sales Philosophy

I started out in high-school selling sneakers and pumps at Kinney Shoes (only those born prior to 70’s would remember this chain). I then helped pay my way through college by selling work and western boots at Boot World (which is actually still around). While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the stinky feet, dirty socks, and forcing EE feet into medium width shoes, I did enjoy sales. So, upon graduation in the 1980’s, I set my sights on a sales career in this hot new industry called “computers.”

Kinney Shoes

Photo Courtesy of: dailyrepublic

To make a long story short, I’ve spent the past 3 decades providing various forms of research and information to the likes of Apple, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and countless other technology companies that may or may not still be around. I’m proud to say that I’ve had relationship with some of these clients for decades because, instead of “selling them,” I focused on understanding their needs and creating solutions to address them. If I was with a company that didn’t value this, or didn’t provide enough value for my clients, I moved on versus risking the relationships I’d spent so long to build.

Steve Jobs

Photo Courtesy of: inflexwetrust.com

I’m also happy to say that the past 5 years of introducing gap intelligence to just about every computing and consumer electronics company in the industry have been the most fulfilling of my career. If all goes as planned, I’ll spend another 5 years doing what I love, for a company I love, with clients that (with a few exceptions), I also love. Maybe then I’ll retire and pick up a part time gig as a car-buying consultant…