Car Sales, Broken Legs and FuXion

I have a background in car sales. I did it for years. I was a salesman, a “closer”, a desk guy, a finance manager. I worked in big Highway stores and I worked for small, family owned dealerships. I was reasonably successful. I loved every aspect of it.

My first job in the business came when I answered an ad in the paper for a mysterious class which would graduate its students to a high paying career in the automotive industry. The idea of selling cars actually was fascinating to me although I was concerned that I exhibited none of the personality traits I’d seen in the guys I’d bought cars from.

I went on the interview, determined to present myself as I really was, wanting the interviewer to decide if I really was salesman material. I felt pretty good that, without faking a car salesman persona, I got the job. They apparently saw something in me that made them want to hire me. What the saw, it turned out, was the number 6. The training company had contracted with the dealership to hire six candidates and train them to sell cars. I was to be the 7th. I was not going to be hired. But one of the other six guys broke his leg falling down the stairs on the last day of class so they were forced to hire me in his spot.

When our sales careers launched I immediately was the one who had difficulty. I couldn’t sell a car. No matter what. I know now that I had no idea where I was in any deal I was working. I was lost. The dealership was frustrated. I got called into the General Sales Manager’s office and, after closing the doors for privacy, he begged me to quit. I wouldn’t. I’d left a steady but unfulfilling job to try this and I wasn’t going down without a fight.

When I wouldn’t quit, he looked for a seventh guy so he could replace me. He found the new guy he wanted and sat him at the desk in front of me. To intimidate me, the manager told me the plan. I was to be fired at week’s end.

It never happened, of course. That day, the guy behind me went home and, during a dinnertime argument with his father, stood up and drove a huge carving knife into his father’s heart. While it didn’t end well for the son or the dad, my job was safe. They still needed six.

The guy they hired to replace me became a good friend. I listened to how he handled selling situations and modelled his strategy. I became a good salesman. Together, he and I waged friendly competitions for Salesman of the Month. We often accounted for 60% of the dealership sales in a given month. Over the next decade, we worked together at quite a few dealerships. We always got each other jobs at our new dealership because that’s what car guys do. We looked out for each other.

Now, I always liked that business, even the hours. It was a good chapter in my life. I just kept at it because I wanted to succeed. I’m proud that I hung in there and that I didn’t give up. Because I soldiered on, I was there when the breaks came my way. I lean upon that now, as I launch my new home based business. I’m doing it because I like it. And, I’m pretty curious to see what’s going to happen to pave my way.

Break a leg.