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.