Car Salesman

My car’s air conditioning went out and it’s ten years old anyway, so I thought maybe it was time to get a new car. While the idea sounds exciting, the notion of haggling with a car salesman is a little intimidating.

Still, I bit the bullet and headed over to the Toyota dealer in West L.A.

I wasn’t even fully out of the car yet when a salesman made a bee-line for me. He had a big smile and said, “Welcome. My name is Gabriel and I’m here to take care of you.” You might think such a come-on would be repulsive but the thing is, Gabriel was so sincere about it, so authentic, that it actually put me at ease. This guy was an absolute professional at talking to strangers.

I told him I was just looking, doing R&D for models. That was super fine with him. “Let me show you around. I can give you the lay of the land, then you go home and think about it. No pressure here. I just want to help you make this difficult decision. And sometimes that might mean recommending you to another dealership.”

I was highly doubtful about that. But still, he asked a bunch of questions, narrowed down the field, and let me test drive a new Prius. (Don’t come down on me if I get a Prius. I know. I hate people who drive Priuses. I don’t want to be a person who drives a Prius. But still, it does get great gas mileage and it’s a lot cheaper than a BMW.)

So on the test drive, I said, “Gabriel, let me ask you something, not about the car, just a general question.”

“Shoot.”

“How did you get so good at being a salesman? How do you make people like you so quickly so they let their guard down?”

He looked at me for a moment, like he was trying to decide if he should reveal a trade secret. Then he just said, “Everybody is different. That’s what’s fun about life. I like to learn what each customer’s situation is because it’s never the same story twice.”

I thought about it and realized that it might be the most profound thing someone has said to me in a while.

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10 Responses to Car Salesman

  1. Tera Sanders says:

    Since I feel pressured to say something profound, I won’t say anything at all.

  2. Tera Sanders says:

    Is it just me or are more people into your blog when you’re writing about your love life? Maybe you should change the name to “the Many Loves of Fletcher” or something…

  3. Sheikiah says:

    I think that people that work with the public are somehow more self-adjusted that those that just don’t. Something about changing your behavoir depending on others’ constantly, I think. Also, you don’t idealize how a conversation with an stranger should be this way. Just a “What’s up?” friendly replied could make someone’s day.

  4. vitokovc says:

    This makes me wonder, the salesman became good with words and strangers because he was a salesman, or the salesman became a salesman because he was good with words and strangers.

  5. Jessie says:

    I don’t see what’s wrong with driving a Prius, but I hear there’s something of a backlash against them in L.A. Here in NYC, we even make cabs out of them. They’re just cars.

    • The car is fine– it’s the smug superiority of the owners that’s irritating. That being said, I must confess I bought one yesterday and I love it.

      • Conrad says:

        Ha! From Gabriel?

        I know how you feel-I’m seriously thinking about getting a 4wd (what you would call an SUV) even tho I DESPISE the lack of courtesy of most 4wd owners, on the road…

        …but they make speed bumps just so damn big, these and they are everywhere…

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