I was working in the Aircraft industry for years. The industry pays well as aircraft parts produce large profits. Then came 9/11/2001 the industry as a whole took a major hit. I made it until 2003 before my number came up.I was laid off. I could not make the money I did outside of the aircraft industry with the skills I had.
My wife and kids were out of town when I was laid off. I decided I wanted to get into sales because I thought If I hustled I could make the type of money I needed to survive. I read in my local paper that a local Chevy Dealer was hiring.
I put on a tie (one of three I had at the time) and went down to see what I could do. The GSM met with me and told me about all the money I could make. He asked me a few questions then bought in the business manager who asked a few more questions. The Manager said to me "you were laid off yesterday yet you put on a tie and came in the next day, I am going to take a chance on you."
So I start the next Monday. Sunday I go to the airport to pick up my wife and kids. We were at the baggage return area and my wife asked me what was wrong? I told her I had bad news and good news... The bad news is I lost my job while you were gone. The good news is I am a Car Salesman! You should have seen her face.
Monday comes around it is two other aspiring salesman and me. We all go to a room upstairs to be trained and taught enough to get us down to the sales floor. One guy did not return from our first lunch break. The other did not show after a few days. During the training I am invited in to observe on a Saturday. I was sent to the deli with a gigantic food order for everyone. Here I am fresh off a job where I got big overtime pay for Saturday work two weeks prior to sitting in a deli with a tie on waiting for the food order. "I'm asking myself what the hell am I doing here?" Some how I stuck it out and started on the following Monday.
It was my first day I counted eleven salesman and only ten desk. They fired a guy that morning problem solved. So now I settle in at my first desk ever.From that desk over the next few weeks I saw them hire every guy with a heart beat. I guess when the GSM said he would take a chance on me was just words. That was an early lesson in my new career. I really liked the guys and I grew up around cars so this was fun.I thought to myself I must make this work. I really like coming to work everyday. I asked the boss where the plaque was for top salesman? He showed it to me and I told him I would be there soon. He then told me not to forget "you are still a f*%* rookie." I could not get over how Managers can be so nice one minute then very short and uninterested the next. Well he ended up getting fired and It took me two months to sell the most cars and then I was on the plaque eight of the twelve months the following year. I am sure my trainer would have been proud of me but he was also fired.
The formula for becoming a car salesman in 2009 consist of two important things:
A good severance package from your previous job and a wife who can make enough money to carry you for four to six months.

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Comment by Michael C. Mamawal on May 1, 2009 at 11:17am
Stan:

You refreshed my memory of all the craziness I've gone through in 19+ years in the car business!
I started in 1990 at a Hyundai store ( not the best vehicle you could sell in 1990!).
I was a Food & Beverage Director at a local hotel working 100+ hours per week for not a whole lot of money. One of my best customers in a fine dining restaurant was the top salesman at a nearby Lincoln Mercury dealership. I quizzed him on his business which got me to thinking about selling cars -- I figured that he spent money, therefore, he must be making money.
I made the plunge in the cold months of 1990.
During my first few months, I got into two fights and was fired & rehired on the spot.
The group of guys I sold with thought the following was funny: 1)An ongoing betting pool on who could "spin" the "green peas" the fastest, 2)Creating the above mentioned fight by telling a senior salesperson that I had skated him on a sale by telling him that I had told the customer that he no longer worked there - and then telling me that the saleperson in question was going to kick my ___. Not one to back down, I addressed the issue and was fired and rehired after my laughing desk manager realized I was "put together".
3)Tried to get me to join the Army by telling me that nobody there made any money and that all had nest eggs and spouses that supported them. (The top salesperson told me that on the months he sold 20+ cars, he made a whopping $1,500.00!) 4)Told me that during the winter months we wouldn't sell any cars and that they hoped I had some money saved up. 5)Stoled the front tire off of my bike ( I didn't have a car)
I persevered and almost 20 years later, I have risen through the ranks and run and owned successful dealerships.
The theory twenty years ago was that if you could survive all the fun and games of torture from your fellow salespeople and managers was that you could handle the rejection and disappointment with customers. (In a twisted way, it kind of worked).
I have a love of cars and a love of dealing with people and still enjoy the car business -- here's to another 20 years!
Comment by Shawn Foster on April 30, 2009 at 5:18pm
Congratulations Stan, a great story. Your's echos what I have told salespeople for years, in that desire and effort will overcome "car experience", every time. Best of luck
Comment by Bob Bressi on April 30, 2009 at 4:05pm
Good Story!!!! The best part is that you are still in the industry! So many people get out because they do not want to do what they did when they first started (Not skipping Steps) and they run out of short cuts. This business is more dificult now than it has ever been and the guys with the "constant" work habits and attitudes will survive.

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