Real Stories From Life at a Dealership

People are the experience

The Power of Sympathy

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Never underestimate the power of sympathy in the course of a sale.

How is your office decorated? In a sales office on the showroom floor, what would be appropriate? Tom decided to put up a display of license plates. It looked to be about 25 to 30 of them. Many different states and years, so there were different colors and numbering. In a business environment where anything you say or do can be used against you this seemed safe.

  So Tom has a customer in his office. He has already gone through most of the steps to a sale and is on the paperwork phase. He gets to a stopping point and takes his worksheet and related paperwork into the desking manager. Tom always had great report with his customers. So I saw an opening and went in.

 I offered the nice lady a typical friendly greeting, followed by an offer to get her something to drink. She said everything was fine. I noticed that she was looking at the wall of license plates. I offered, “Tom’s a nice guy isn’t he”? “Oh yes” she replied. “I see you noticed all of his License plates”, “quite a collection”. “Did Tom tell you about them” I asked innocently? “Why no” was the answer.


I interjected, “Every family has its Black Sheep. In Tom’s family it’s his Father. Tom’s dad has done more than a little time if you know what I mean. So Tom has collected a license plate from every state where he has been incarcerated.”


Amazed she said, “Wow, that’s quite a few”. Looking for away to go I tossed up, “That’s why selling cars is so important to Tom, because it’s his only connection to his father. Tom takes every sale personal.”  I thanked her for her time and was out of the office before Tom ever knew I was in there. Of course talking to another person’s customer is against the rules.

 When Tom went back into the sales booth the customers tone was different. She explained to Tom that every family had its black sheep. She kept commenting on the license plate collection. She asked Tom about his father having a rough life?  As he completed the sale, she kept trying to comfort Tom. When the transaction was finished, Tom came in and said that it was the weirdest thing, that during the entire close she was interested in was his license plate collection, and for some reason she sure was interested in his Father.

 What started out as a bit of a joke on Tom, turned into a playhouse move on the customer. Never underestimate the power of sympathy in the course of a sale.


May 13, 2009 - Posted by | eric prothro, license plates, sierra motors | , , , ,


  1. Eric, I don’t know whether to laugh or say shame on you!

    Comment by Kevin Von Tungeln | May 13, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Eric,

      How come Tom had somebody elses initials on his shirts? LOL

      Love rick a

      Comment by Rick Abercrombie | May 13, 2009 | Reply

    • Laugh, please laugh

      Comment by ericprothro | May 18, 2009 | Reply

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