THE BACK SEAT OF A CHEVETTE
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THE BACK SEAT OF A CHEVETTE
I looked out my office window at Sierra Motors to spy a tow truck with a Chevy Chevette chained too its back. It seemed to be a rite of passage with all the changes coming to GM in the next couple of months this old dog just couldn’t take it anymore. It was at peace with the fact that all that rattling metal would probably make its way into about five new hybrids saving mankind from global warming. (LOL)
When I started selling cars, in 1983, we had real jewels like the Chevrolet Citation, Celebrity and Chevette. Believe me when I say that GM was already lost in the 1980’s. The best new car models they could produce would be the Lumina, Corsica and Beretta.
The test drive in a Chevette was an experience. You had to be a contortionist because the driver’s seat did not sit square. It wasn’t exactly facing the front. The steering wheel came at you from an angle and it was off center. So much so that your right hand would be about two inches closer to your body than your left. For the driver it all came together with the hump in the floor from the transmission, remember the Chevette was still rear wheel drive. So all of the pedals were offset to the left. So your driving position was crooked, with your upper torso twisted to the right and your legs twisted to the left and your arms at two different lengths, in other words, a chiropractors dream.
I looked out and saw a nice couple looking at one of the last new Chevettes. After a short presentation and very little investigation we went for a test drive. I’m in the back seat, the Chevette routine starts. I place my left foot on a rattle. I place my right hand on a wind noise. Something else is making noise so I put my right foot on it and finally my left hand is keeping the rear window from whistling. All I can think about is how bad this test drive is going.
We pull back into the dealership I start to apologize…but I don’t. I follow my training and in an upbeat tone I ask “well how did you like it?” To my amazement they started saying things like, “nice ride” and “good acceleration” and “nice and quiet”. Standing in disbelief all I could do was ask, “What did you drive here in?”
They pointed to a 1963 VW bug. It was one of the old 32 horsepower, air-cooled engines. It had a rear quarter window missing. They then went on to describe how in there 15 years of marriage, that they had always aspired to get their first new car and this was it. To be able to finally afford a car with a new car warranty (12 months, 12,000 miles back then) was the fulfillment of years of working and saving together.
I realized then and there that my paradigms were of no importance. If I was going to be a success in this business I had better learn from the potential customer early and ‘LISTEN’ to what their values and needs were. To find a customers needs and wants could only be done by taking the time to actually listen to them, before trying to sell anything.
A lesson that I learned in the back seat of a Chevette…. and that’s the only thing you could do in the backseat of a Chevette.