Packard worked hard to “see that distributers and dealers of its product received a return on their capital invested in proportion to the risks involved and the effort expended in the securing of Packard business.” So said the company on Oct. 15, 1928, addressing the educational aspects of the business to its dealers and distributers (Packard’s spelling).
Company officials then asked, “To what extent have you profited by this effort? How did your earnings for the last fiscal year compare with the previous…? Is your clientele growing? Is your volume of business ‘healthy’ and in the proper ratio?”
Some points of sale might have fired a retort as the 1929 models were aborning. Was this statement by Packard intended as an insult to them? Far from the truth, and many “Packard men” from coast to coast and in key places around the globe realized it. Most took the words to heart as encouragement, much as a stern parent corrected an errant child for the good of both. Dealers felt privileged as the potential boom year was near its dawn. Income from the pricey Packards promised to bring lucrative results to their company coffers. So listening could help them improve profits.
For 1929, Packard grew more cognizant of needing an offering at the lower end of its high-dollar range without compromising its well-established position in the car business. There would never be a “cheap” Packard, but lesser-priced versions opened the door to ownership for the less endowed. In time and with personal success, those Packard owners could rise to the ranks of high-dollar spenders, thus creating a “feeder group” to succeed wealthy car owners as their ranks diminished due to health or death.
Ten tips were drummed by Packard back then, as if these were the “Ten Commandments” for the company. First: “Increase my knowledge of my product.” Seemed simple enough, so point number two was a logic sequel: “Improve my presentation of this knowledge.” These points would linger without progress had it not been for the third: “Improve my contact with every Packard owner.” Knowing about the 1929 Packard line was good only if it led to flesh-and-blood contacts resulting in cash on a purchase.
How could this be done? Point five made it clear: “Increase my number of demonstrations.” If the motto were to hold true to “Ask the Man Who Owns One,” then it was even better to ask about the benefits while taking a demonstration drive, for actions truly spoke louder than words, and still do. To prepare for this eventuality, the next points hit the matter squarely on the nailhead. “Study my opportunity, myself, and my associates at least 15 minutes every day.” Then followed a study of Packard selling tools, how to secure advice on closing a deal, making a good selection of viable prospects, being warm and inviting when engaging a prospect and being sharp in organizing the plan of action and using self-supervision to sharpen skills.
Imagine being a Packard salesman upon the launch of the 1929 models. When a prospective buyer said, “I know how a Packard car rides and steers,” how would you counter? Here was the suggestion straight from the Packard headquarters in Detroit: Be inquisitive. Say, “But, did you ever experience such a ride as the Sixth Series Packards give you, or did you ever steer a car with such assurance as today’s Packard?”
The company pressed another idea: use the sense of sight to full advantage. “Scientists tell us that 87 percent of all impressions which reach the human brain are received through the eye,” said the head office, not fully crediting its source. This calculated to be “22 times quicker and more efficient in grasping ideas” than merely hearing about a Packard.
The sales force was pressed to consider this example: “Are YOU capable of intelligently buying any piece of machinery worth $1,000, $2,000, or $3,000, as complicated as a cash register, a bookkeeping machine, an electric locomotive or an automobile without a demonstration? Then, why embarrass your prospect by expecting him to be well versed and capable?”
To sharpen selling skills and knowledge of the product, Packard stated it was necessary to “spend one hour of each evening at home planning and outlining my next day’s work.” True homework was needed, with a sincere drive to succeed!
The 1929 Sixth Series range of Packard was an outstanding representation of Packard pride from the Deluxe Eight 645 range (running a 145-in. wheelbase and big 384-cid straight-eight) to the entry-level but still luxurious Standard Eight 626 (126.5-in. wheelbase and 319.2-cid straight-eight). The 626 was a new model for the Sixth Series and turned out to be a great profit maker for the company. The year was to be a banner one for much of the industry, eclipsed later by sales results for the industry’s 1955 run. As for Packard, 1929 was good, but 1937 was the best.
A nice factor inherent in 1929 Packards is the opportunity for the driver to feel as one with the car. Having no synchromesh transmission makes it imperative to feel the shift points before clutching which, in Packard’s case, meant shifting at lower speeds. No power steering, but it honestly was not a necessity with the large wheels of the Sixth Series that, once in motion, steered true and good.
Indeed, if ever a car could sell itself, best bet it was a Packard.
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