Selling a Vintage Fiat?
When I was a young man in late 1970s, I wanted a convertible. I was also cheap! The first car I bought was a 1972 Triumph Spitfire from a woman I worked with at IBM. It needed a clutch and a throw out bearing.
I had just received my engineering degree from Northwestern University and I wanted to teach myself auto mechanics. The Triumph was a good challenge to fix. I drove it around for six months and then sold it. Now I wanted a bigger challenge.
I bought a wrecked 1972 Fiat 124 Spyder. I was told that Fiat stood for “Fix It Again Tony.” The car had been in a front end collision but was still drivable. I spent the next 18 months replacing fenders, the hood, a bulkhead, pulled the heads and valves, and much more.
The challenge was when I went to sell it.
Rebuilding and Selling Hondas
Around the time, I was working on that Fiat 124 Spyder, I started rebuilding Hondas. I bought several Honda Accords and Civics which I would fix up, drive for a while and then sell at a profit.
This was the mid-1980s when Honda’s were still fairly new on the scene and were in high demand because of the quality and the gas mileage.
When I was ready to sell, I would put an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper for three consecutive weekends. Remember the classified sections where you looked for jobs, garage sales, and other things that people wanted to sell? The key was to be in the Sunday classifieds.
Because of the high demand for Hondas, I would get four or five people come out each weekend and finally I would get a single buyer.
Many would try to negotiate the price and those 3 weekends were pretty busy.
When I went to sell my Fiat is was very different. This was somewhat of a cult car.
I would put an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper for three consecutive weekends. That first weekend I had only 1 person looking at the car. They test drove it and said they would think about it.
The second weekend came and the same thing happened. Only one person came out to look at the car but they did not even want to test drive it.
The third weekend I got several calls but no one came out to look at the car.
The following Monday, I got a call from the original prospect from the first weekend asking if the car was still available. I told him yes, we did some minor negotiating and I offered to throw in an extra 5-speed transmission I had. We had a deal.
Only two people came out to look at the car and only 1 of those test drove the car.
You Only Need One Buyer!
Only one person test drove the car and he bought it. I later rebuilt several more Fiats and I rarely had more than two or three people test drive the cars, but one of them always bought it.
Applying for More Jobs is not Better
Do you apply for many jobs hoping to get an interview?
Or, do you carefully investigate each company by strategically networking to meet the right individuals? When a position becomes available, you find someone internal to the company to submit your resume. You submit your application when the time is right. You end up submitting very few applications.
This is called the Targeted Job Search.
What I learned from selling the Fiat is that it is not how many people who come out to test drive the car. If I prepared the car properly and priced it fairly, the car would sell. I only needed one buyer.
Similarly, when you are managing your career, you want to be selective. Preparation is key. You want to approach a prospective employer when the time is right. You only need to apply and interview with one company to get that next gig.
Long before I started Career Pivot, I started counseling individuals who had been laid off. There is one employer in Austin who is quite large and layoffs people at the drop of a hat. I would ask these individuals what they were looking for and what they commonly say is ” I can do product marketing, product management, project management, sales, program management,…….”. What they were telling me is they were good at such wide range of disciplines that my only assumption was they were not good at any of them.
They were feeding me a line of BS. I would immediately tell them to pick one and only one discipline to target. They would often complain that was too limiting. I would go okay pick two but no more.
Quantity Versus Quality
Just like when I sold that Fiat—it was not quantity but quality. Only people who knew about Fiats and truly admired the Italian engineering would come out to look at the car. (By the way, Fiat was at least 10 years ahead of the rest of the industry with many features like four-wheel disc brakes and dual overhead cam engines.)
You need to determine what to target. Most of us grew up when generalists were king. We live in an age where specialists are king.
What is your specialty? What companies are in need your specialty? Do your homework. Pick the companies that are a good fit for you.
You only need one company to hire you for that next gig! More is not better!
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