Meridian Star

Columns

May 17, 2013

Selling ice cubes to Eskimos

MERIDIAN — Salesmen, extraordinaire – you’ve heard of them? You have probably even experienced a one-two-three knockout from a few of them. Read on as I bring you into the world of car selling. It’s a place like no other … whether mystic, magical or conniving – everyone is interested in the “car-deal.”

    Like horse flesh of the old days, car-dealing is a national pastime, even more profound than football in Mississippi. Well, perhaps, not college football, but close.

    A typical day on the car lot begins with the eight o’clock sales meeting. Dealing Dan, a bulldog-type- sales-manager, delivers his punch-punch-punch style of a sales meeting. “Remember people, when the buying public says ‘No,’ they really mean ‘Yes.’”

    Clear as mud to most folks, but in the car business that statement is crystal-clear.

        Dan continues. “The deal of the day is that little Evergreen SUV sitting on the back of the lot.”

        Slim Jim (the salesman who has “out-growed” his name, as he so famously refers to himself) groans. “You mean that baby puke/green piece of junk that we’ve had in inventory way too long?”

        Dan answers. “Correct – that baby puke/green piece of junk will pay a $500 bonus to the salesperson who can give it a new home today.”

        Arriving late for the meeting is the dealership’s number one salesperson for the last five years. The top-volume salesperson comes tipping into the room gingerly, taking her seat ever so carefully – aware of her freshly painted nails (the reason for her lateness). Mary Lou’s ponytail jiggles in time with the smacking of her very favorite double-double-juicy bubble gum. She clutches the ever-present clipboard, solar calculator, updated sales list, cell phone, and a very, very sharp pencil. Mary Lou narrows her eyes as she listens intently to the deal-of-the-day.

    It’s time to show the guys how to sell ice cubes to Eskimos.  

    The sales meeting ends with a whoop and a holler as each salesman mentally rolls over names of old customers or at least an acquaintance, you know, like the girls down at Burger Heaven or the greeter at Wal-Mart. Not just a suspect, but a real prospect for a real sale.

    While the guys thumb through their old lists of customers and prospects, Mary Lou eyes the front door of the dealership as it glides open. In walks Big Momma with her twin daughters, Glenda Faye and Linda Faye. Momma needs a new ride and the twins are determined to get her a “fair deal.” Nobody is gonna jip their momma.

    Mary Lou begins with a wide grin and gentle handshake. “Hello, my name is Mary Lou Gotcha. How may I help you lovely ladies on this fine morning?”

        The girls and momma look at each other with a relieved smile. What do you know – they have found a nice, sweet, and gentle salesperson. “Yes, ma’am, Ms. Gotcha, Momma, here, needs a new vehicle.”

    “Oh,” Mary Lou again gives a dazzling smile. “I think I have just what you need. Come with me ladies, I have a very special little green SUV on the back lot. I’ve been saving it for sweet and gentle souls just like y’all.”

    Momma and the girls follow Mary Lou to the back lot, just like the Pied Piper.     Clink, clink – there goes another glass-full of ice cubes.

    Anne McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her web site: annemckee.net

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