July 16, 2009

Selling Cars

In the summer of 2008, I found myself looking for a job. I took a position at Advantage Chevrolet even though car sales was a career I had little though of in the past. I liked the fact that I would be selling American cars in a minority-owned dealership. I felt comfortable that the company was willing to invest in me, by taking me out for a month of paid training with a charismatic training manager.

The month of training started in early September. I worked hard and diligently, as I considered the training crucial. The other three men and I learned about the selling process the company used, and we learned about the automobiles we were selling and about the competition. That month was one of the more intense classes I have ever taken.

That month also coincided with one of the most intense drops in the national economy. By the time training was over, I was ready and prepared to sell some cars and to make some money. A week went by without me selling any cars. I sold my first car on Saturday. I thought it would be the first of many. As the economy dropped, and there was news of bailouts for the industry, less and less people came to the dealership. We had to fight and claw to work with the few customers who would come in. The time when there were no customers, I would make phone calls from a database of everyone who had ever been to the dealership; I would send out flyers to advertise myself.

Even doing that did not take up the fifty hours a week we were scheduled. As it got colder out, I would walk the lots. I would ask for advice from managers and coworkers. One night I had a long conversation with one of the managers. He told me that success in the business was all about self-confidence. The next day he did not have a job. By Thanksgiving, I had seen five salespeople and three managers let go because of the slow economy. I came to work every day with a smile and a positive attitude.

I even had a smile on the day I was let go. I know the question was about overcoming a challenge, but I feel that this experience taught for the thousandth time that if you face a challenge, you could lose even if you do everything possible. I just have to be ready to face the next one. I am.