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ARTICLE BY: Maggie Clemens

“I don’t know . . .”

Well, it’s that time again. My lease is coming up on my car and I’m out shopping for a new one.

As most of you know, I spent almost 25 years in car sales. For at least the last 20 years I have leased my vehicles. It used to be so easy. Walk out to the lot, pick the car I wanted and go do the paperwork.

Now that it has been 8 years since I “retired” and started my second career in real estate, I am like any other person walking on a car lot.

Can someone just take me out back and shoot me now?!?

When it was time for my last vehicle, a friend of mine worked at a dealership so I was able to sidestep the usual negotiations on my last lease. Now the number of people I know in the car business has dwindled to about 2 and I’m not sure I want those brands.

The other day, I visited one of the local dealerships and a salesperson came out to greet me. I explained that my lease would up in 3 months and I was just shopping other makes and models. I didn’t tell him I had a lot of experience with cars. I would have if he had asked me anything about what I do. But he didn’t, so I didn’t.

I asked some questions about the car and I knew immediately when he answered that he didn’t know the answer . . . but he answered anyway.

From my time at the dealership I knew sometimes a customer would ask a question that they knew the answer to just to see what the salesperson would say. To see if they would be honest with them. That wasn’t what I was doing, but this salesperson felt he had to come up with an answer anyway. Maybe he thought I would be impressed.

For a short time, I was in management at the dealership and I was responsible for training my team. In my training, I let them know that there is NEVER a reason to lie to a customer. Or to make up an answer. Just tell them “you don’t know, and you will find the answer for them.”

You may think someone will be impressed if they think you “know” what you’re talking about, but the exact opposite is true. They appreciate much more that you are honest with them. They may not know for sure you are making up an answer but intuitively they know something is not right.

As I left that dealership I knew this person was not long for the business. You can only get by on bullshit for so long. It’s sad really, because all he needed to realize is that there is no shame in saying “I don’t know.”


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