123rf 744701 largeA couple of weeks ago while on a phone call with a client I was reminded about an earlier time in my commission sales career while working at a local car dealership. I had been hired without any previous automobile sales experience even though the headline in the ad explicitly stated “Experienced Applicants Only.”

The training I got was intense I think it took 30 minutes – that isn’t a typo – it was all of 30 minutes. I was given a tour of the dealership, introduced to the various department heads, and handed a pad of sales agreements and business cards. [quotes]The cards didn’t even have my name on them but I was promised I would have a set of my own very soon.[/quotes]

In a stroke of luck, I was fortunate to have one of the seasoned vets take me under his wing early on in my time at the dealership. And this is what I want to you talk about here.

I had been on the sales team for a little over three months. It was on a Friday afternoon, it wasn’t a very busy day, and the number of interested buyers was very low. [rquotes]I found myself visiting and hanging out with some of the other salesmen. aka “The Coffee Club.” [/rquotes] At least, that’s what I later learned it was called by my mentor.

The conversation that was going on in that group wasn’t very inspiring or motivating, but hell, I was bored, wasn’t selling much and money was tight…if the truth be known. So I hung out with them and I allowed myself to get drawn in and caught up by the conversation that was going on.

That was until my mentor showed up and sternly grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away. [rquotes]He asked me if I was there to be a professional salesman or a loser. [/rquotes] I affirmed to him and myself that I was there to be the best I could be; I wanted to be a successful and professional salesman.

I was stunned by his reaction but it woke me up to the fact that I was unconsciously allowing myself to get caught up in a cycle of destructive negative thinking. He then said, “STOP hanging around with ‘The Coffee Club,’ they will only deter you from achieving your goals because they are focused on all the negative things. [quotes]They are a bitch and moan club focused on how bad things are and are poisonous to your success.” [/quotes] This is when I learned that The Coffee Club is really the “Ain’t it Awful Club.”

I realized that no matter what you call it: It’s a club that you do not want to have a membership in at any price.

By taking his advice to heart about staying clear of The Coffee Club, my mindset immediately changed and that shift in thinking made all the difference to my success. A little later on that same Friday I saw a customer walking on the lot around the vans. He was dressed in worn threadbare shorts, an old frayed T-shirt and a pair of worn scuffed shoes. [rquotes]He looked like a homeless person, absent only the shopping cart. [/rquotes]

Going through the showroom, I walked right by the Ain’t it Awful Club. They pointed out that the guy wouldn’t buy and even if he wanted to he wouldn’t be able to because “his kind” never get their financing approved.

With their negative insights ringing in my brain but heeding the voice of my mentor sounding in my head, I went out with enthusiasm to greet the man who I later learned was named Jim.

[rquotes]I approached Jim with an open and enthusiastic welcome to our dealership and asked him if it was his first time here. [/rquotes] As we talked I was able to get to know him and we developed a mutual rapport. He was looking at the vans we had available because he wanted to upgrade his current vehicle which was an earlier competitor’s model.

Asking questions, I was able to learn what he was looking for in a new van and why he wanted one and soon we went on a test drive in one of the vans on the lot. I got to know him a little bit better during that drive. He was the plant manager for a gas processing plant nearby, had the afternoon off and was looking for a van to use for family trips as well as for work.

During the conversation, I learned a lot about Jim and continued to build rapport and trust with him by focusing on what he needed and what his concerns were, not about what I had to sell him. He also told me what he felt his current van was worth.

[quotes]When we finished our test drive I asked him if he was ready to go ahead with a decision to get a new van yet.[/quotes] He wasn’t because he wanted to know what his current van would be worth. I offered to have it appraised but he didn’t have it with him. We shook hands after we arranged to get together on Saturday morning to have his van appraised and work out the details.

Why did I go into all the details about my test drive with Jim?

Remember the The Coffee Club - the Ain’t it Awful Club? I had had a couple interactions with them while working with Jim. I had to come into the dealership to get the keys which took me right past them. [rquotes]The Ain’t it Awful Club gave me their informed perspective on how this guy would never get financed because he looked like a yard man. [/rquotes]

Later, when I came back again to replace the keys, they asked what happened and wanted to know why I didn’t have it sold yet. I explained the situation regarding the need to appraise his van before we could complete the transaction and that he would be back Saturday mid-morning. [quotes]They actually laughed at and my naivety and said ‘You’ll never see him again! You wasted your time.’[/quotes]

With my mentor’s voice in my head reminding me to stop hanging out with the The Coffee Club and the Ain’t it Awful Club I just thanked them for their advice.

On Saturday morning I was talking with my mentor about the mid-morning appointment I had, we talked about the steps that I needed to take care of so that the customer had a positive experience during the process of buying our van. We talked with the used car sales manager to get his ideas on the value of the van and I told him that I’d let him know when Jim arrived with his van.

The Ain’t it Awful Club was hard at work trying to make sure I was in a negative frame of mind, but thanks to the advice of my mentor, it didn’t work. Shortly after 10 a.m. Jim rolled in with his van to be appraised.

The used car sales manager took the van for a ride was happy with the shape it was in, so much so it was easy to offer Jim what he had told me he wanted. With that being the case, we were able to arrange a deal that worked out for Jim and I was even able to get Jim an AM/FM cassette radio at our cost because of the structure of the deal.

The next step was even easier than the The Coffee Club and the Ain’t it Awful Club could of imagined. [rquotes]You see. Jim had made arrangements with his own bank and had the funds to purchase the van and the deal was completed almost instantly. [/rquotes]

A couple of nuggets came from this experience for me:


  • Stay away from The Coffee Club and the Ain’t it Awful Club. The people we associate with can have an impact on us, so be careful who you spend your time with.
  • Because I didn’t buy into what the Ain’t it Awful Club was talking about, I was able to earn a very large commission simply by helping out a customer and making sure that he got what he was looking for in a van and trade in.


[quotes]That day just got better and better.[/quotes] I was able to conclude two more sales and enjoy in the bonus of the day because I had sold and delivered three cars that same day.

With the extra cash bonus I treated my wife to a fabulous steak dinner at one of our favorite places.

Make sure that you are associating with like-minded people who give energy and ideas, and stay away from The Coffee Club and the Ain’t it Awful Club.

By Phil Gilkes, FocalPoint Coach