By Grant McGee: Local columnist
I received a phone call the other day from one of our Clovis car dealerships.
“Hello Mr. McGee,” the voice said. “We’re just making some random calls today to see who wants to buy a car.”
The poor guy’s voice couldn’t have been more transparent. What I heard was, “We have this manager who’s getting hassled about slow sales from The Big Guy so he’s making us go through the phone book and call anyone.”
I told him we couldn’t afford a new car right now, thanked him for the call anyway and wished him good luck. I wished the guy well because I have walked in his shoes.
Yep, I was a car salesman once upon a time. It wasn’t around here, that’s why I can write about it.
I had just arrived in Phoenix and decided I was going to make a million bucks selling cars. I reasoned that I was a nice guy, I’d make the buying experience pleasant and would be known as the friendliest car salesman in The Valley of the Sun.
If I haven’t told you already, I spent a lot of time alone as a child and have often had trouble separating fantasy from reality.
As it turned out I didn’t have much luck selling cars. I sold half of a car in September and half of a car in October. That’s all. Selling just half of a car means I was able to wrangle a customer into a vehicle for a test drive but couldn’t close the sale. A “closer,” a more experienced salesman, had to seal the deal.
The half-car sale I remember best was the young woman who came breezing on to the lot in a brand new Mitsubishi Eclipse.
“I want one of those,” she said, pointing to the newest Firebird we had.
“But yours still has the dealer tag on it,” I said, a bit bewildered.
“Yeah, but I don’t like it anymore.”
So she and I got into the Firebird and took off for the freeway. Once on the eight-lane highway she revved the thing up to 90 mph. “Ooo, Baby likes this,” she said. “I want to take this home to show my husband.”
And so we did.
Hubby came out of their apartment slowly, sullenly, with a furrowed brow, arms crossed over his chest and mouth clammed up tight. He wouldn’t say a word all the way back to the car lot.
At the dealership I went to the sales manager with my problem. He sent in a closer. Soon the husband and the closer were chatting up a storm and within an hour Baby and Hubby were driving home in her new jet black Firebird.
I had several other misadventures during my car sales career that led me to decide it wasn’t for me.
When I turned in my resignation the sales manager nodded his head in agreement.
“Yeah,” he said, “you’re just too nice of a guy. We were wondering when you were going to start leaving mints on the customers’ pillows.”
To me, salespeople are the warriors of capitalism. I salute them, they who get it from both ends — the temperamental customer who looks and is reluctant to buy, and the boss who wants to know why they didn’t get the sale.
That doesn’t mean I can afford to buy a car right now, though.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: