Dancing At Dealerships
Dec 06, 2012
Let me preface the following "observations" by noting that I raised livestock for many years, hope to live long enough to enjoy a slower pace during retirement, and find dealing with salesmen both entertaining and exasperating (depending on whether I'm buying or selling):
Farm equipment dealerships are great places to study body language. Walk into any dealership on a winter day and you can follow a dozen different story lines without eavesdropping on a single conversation.
Start with the guy in the multi-stained coveralls and dripping chore boots, sitting on a stool at the parts counter. He’s leaning across the counter, straining to see the computer screen, while the parts man takes shallow breaths and works the keyboard with extended arms. That guy is a livestock farmer who needs parts fast so he can finish his chores.
At the next parts counter computer terminal sits a customer wearing a new seed corn coat over bib overalls. He has his back and elbows propped against the counter, and is happily talking to another customer waiting in line behind him. He’s wearing cream-colored, soft-leather walking shoes. His seed corn cap is at a jaunty angle. He’s a retired farmer picking up parts for the lawn mower he’s been repairing for three weeks. He’s been at the dealership for two hours, drank three cups of coffee and ate five donuts, and still hasn’t told the parts man what he parts he needs.
Over in the sales area, a customer leans against the doorframe of a salesman’s office. He stays in the doorway because he knows once he sits in "the chair," he’s committed to intense negotiations on the tractor he "might" be interested in buying, even though he’s already lined up financing at the local bank.
His salesman sits behind his desk, leaned as far back as his chair will allow, one foot propped on an open desk drawer, idly poking with one finger at keys on his computer keyboard. He’s smiling and nodding and waiting for the perfect, precise moment to toss out a number that will suck the customer into the chair.
Another salesman is slowly sidestepping toward the dealership’s front door, talking animatedly with an equally slow moving customer. An hour ago they were in the salesman’s office trying to find common ground on a machinery trade, but never quite came to terms. If the weather is warm enough and the potential sale is big enough, the salesman will sidestep the customer all the way to his pickup. If necessary, he’ll position his body to keep the customer from closing the truck’s door. Defeat is not an option.
It’s an unending series of dances without music, choreographed each day, all day, at your local farm equipment dealership.