Locating is About Sales

My biggest sales lessons came from three good friends, and mentors, when I started selling cars back in the 90’s. They each had a different style, and all three are very successful. The point I want to get across is that there is no one size fits all when it comes to selling yourself and getting your foot into the door at a new location.

In this post I’m going to break down each of my mentors, give you a glimpse of what I learned and hopefully you will come across some strategies or ideas on how you can become better at “closing the deal” yourself.

“BIG” Joe

“BIG” Joe was as big a success at closing the deal as he was… well…being BIG. Joe weighed in on the upward side of 400lbs., rolled in around 9AM every day in his Ford F250 and left around 4PM. If you know anything about car salesmen, 60+ hours a week is pretty much the norm, working commission it’s a fact you can’t sell if you’re not there.  Joe was just that good!

Joe is what we call a closer, when he came in he settled into his office and never left his chair. He didn’t bother picking up customers; he concentrated on closing down other salesmen’s hard cases and took a 50% cut for it.

From Joe I learned the art of figuring out what barrier(s) a customer has in place, the obstacles you need to overcome, to turn a maybe or a no, into a yes. This is an easy fix, practicing your sales pitch is important but it’s also important for you to role play as a location owner, try and consider every obstacle they would, to your pitch, then start forming good responses and practice them till they roll off your tongue like honey. This way once you’re at the location and they give you an objection you have a quick answer that disarms them.

The second lesson Joe taught me was to look for signs the customer was sold, they were just negotiating for their best terms. This would primarily apply to commission locations. If a location owner has engaged you for more than a few minutes he is interested in what you’re offering. Other small clues which are sure tells of his interest include he asks questions about your operation or he offers details about his own location. Once you know you have him hooked, it becomes easier to shut him down and close him out with a better deal for you. Joe’s favorite saying was don’t be afraid to tell the customer “NO.” I know that sounds counter intuitive but once they are vested and you have their interest they will settle for less rather than lose it all.


Frank was from New Jersey, dressed like a second rate gangster in flashy suits, big watches and expensive leather shoes. With his hair slicked back and oiled up he looked every bit the part of a used car salesman. Everything about the guy made you feel like you were dealing with the sleaziest sales guy on the planet, and you probably were.

Franks saving grace was I have yet to meet a man who knew more jokes, could make someone laugh, was larger than life or had the rare ability to connect with someone in a matter of seconds after meeting them.

Connecting was my lesson learned. Once a person realizes you have something in common with them, a connection, it becomes much harder for them to shut you down and they tend to listen and believe you more. When out locating look for anything that you have in common, look at how they dress, listen to what they say, look for things within the business that you can use to connect with. This is one of the hardest skills for most people to learn and use, but let me give you a couple of examples I have used;

  • One man pulled up and had a “My Son’s a US Marine” bumper sticker on his car, so after introducing myself and shaking his hand I mentioned I saw his bumper sticker and thanked him for his son’s service, I explained how I understood the pride and sacrifice that goes with it, as my cousin was also a marine. Boom, 15 seconds in and I had connected with him on a very personal level.
  • Another time I am locating in a little BBQ place, soon as I walk in I see the wall full of plagues where they have supported a children’s league baseball team. Again I introduce myself and mention I like his wall, then I go on to reminisce about how I used to play in a league just like that and I know how appreciative the kids are of his support, and how great it is he is serving his community that way, and told him how I also try and get involved as often as I can with my own sons teams. Again, 15 seconds in and I have connected with this man.

Second lesson Frank taught me was humor makes anything better. If you can make a man laugh, and make him like you, there isn’t much you can’t talk him into within reason. Always have some good clean jokes to work in when you can and always smile and be energetic. Good attitude and happiness are contagious, you give it to your location owner and he will give you a place to put your machine.


When I first started everyone told me to stay away from Mike, this guy was legend for two things, selling cars and crushing other salesmen. He had been with the dealership for 12 years and was top salesman for 12 years, this guy ran the joint, if he didn’t like a manager, the owner fired the manager. One finance manager cut one of his deals and moved the profit to the backend to pad his own commission, Mike sliced his tires and the top to his convertible, the owner fired the finance manager on the spot and paid for the damages. Mike was untouchable.

I didn’t buy the hype though, I was young and ambitious and I wanted to learn from the best. Turns out Mike was a great guy, he was a straight shooter who didn’t tolerate dishonesty or being taken advantage of, either him directly or one of his customers, ever!

My first lesson was to always take care of your customers, or in our case location owners. Deal fairly with them, always keep your promises, and make sure they know you see them as people, not dollar signs. To drive home the importance of that I will tell you how Mike made close to a quarter million every year selling cars, he had a notebook full of over 12 years’ worth of customers. These people loved Mike, they refused to ever use anyone else and they recommended him to all of their friends. I never once saw Mike pick-up someone off the lot. Most of his business was done over the phone with them and they would come in for 15 minutes to sign paperwork and drive off in their new car. Now imagine if you had an address book full of location owners who thought that highly of you?!?

Second lesson Mike taught me was to be direct, answer questions straight forward, be precise and don’t waste their time or your own. It’s good to build a connection and loyalty through service but always remember your purpose and what you’re there for. The flip side is to be direct in asking for what you want, there is nothing wrong with asking someone for what you need, but don’t waste their time with it, get to the point and be succinct. When you’re direct it gives people less time to lose focus and to come up with excuses to derail your pitch.

Well that about sums up this post, I hope you will find something of use among my experiences with my mentors. I learned some great skills at that dealership, and some really great guys. If you can work on your own sales techniques it will pay-off in your locating with time.


  1. Great post Rick!

  2. Decaturjack says:

    Great info Rick!

  3. Thanks Guys!

  4. Performa Vending says:

    Terrific! Great advice we all can use!

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