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Conversations with Anne Sostman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Sostman.

Anne, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
From customers to co-workers many people that I meet all ask the same question, “how did get in the car business?”. I always chuckle and say, “my dad caught me at a low point”. In all truth, I am not surprised that I ended up in the car business. Growing up my dad and aunt worked in it and as a kid I never got bedtimes stories, I got car stories. My dad and aunt would argue over everything in the business at the dinner table. One of them always had to be right and neither ever conceded. I had a bachelors degree in the business before I ever set foot on the lot for my first day.

This leg up gave me enough confidence to walk into the lions den with a set of balls but at the same time I still needed a true education among the professors. I quickly found out that even though I had previous insight knowledge of this business, I still needed to learn and the only way to do that was to suck it up and do it. The car business isn’t like other businesses. You can go to school to be a lawyer, doctor, technician, architect, etc. and come out with a pretty good understand of what it is you need to do after college. However, with the car business, you can go through all of the training ahead of time but when it comes down to it, you will not figure out how to sell a car by a book, training class, etc. Sure, those things help but you won’t learn what you need to until you go out and do it and likely fail several times. There’s an old adage in this business, “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” So you do the best you can to use your best judgement and if you’re wrong you will quickly be told so and if you’re right you’ll continue on.

It can be challenging working under these conditions because you have old car dogs that don’t care much for green peas (someone completely new to car sales) and they will make up things and steer them in the wrong direction. Many new sales people quit, as they can’t handle the pressure, back stabbing and $hit talking that happens on a constant basis. Now some dealerships are different and they actually try to nurture new sales people but even still, many cannot handle the constant grind that is sales.

But back to the topic at hand, I got into the car business because when I moved back home to Las Vegas from Los Angeles I could not find a job. I was working as a hostess because it was all I could find and I was at least trying to make some money. My job experience at that time was in technology and entertainment. I had worked for a major motion picture studio, a film sales company and an Internet start-up company. So going back to Las Vegas, my experience didn’t really fit in anywhere there. Plus it was in 2010 when the economy was still recovering and jobs were a little light. So one day when I went over to my parents house my dad said to me, “so are you going to be a hostess for the rest of your life?”, to which my response was, “no, but it’s all I can find right now”. That gave him his opening, “well, we need sales people so come sell cars”, and I did!

I never knew it until a few years into the business, but my dad had always wanted me to get into the car business. He knew that I’d do well and could become very successful and he was right. However, after high school my only interest was moving to California and working in the movie/entertainment business. I had always loved movies and television and I wanted to work in that business. So after high school, I left Vegas faster than you could blink and lived the fun life that Southern California had to offer! I have no regrets from my 20s and the time that I spent living in SoCal. I enjoyed every bit of it. Sure, I made a lot of stupid mistakes, and I mean a lot but I had fun. Before I even graduated from Cal State Fullerton, I had already moved to L.A. I was ready to live and be there full time. Prior to moving up there, I had an internship at a major motion picture studio and also took acting classes. I love it all so much and I couldn’t wait to be there. Once I was there I tried to navigate life in the city of angels and I did okay for myself. Not too great but not bad.

Flash forward a few years, and after the Great Recession hit, I was working for an Internet start up company. That was exciting and so great to be apart of until my boss ran the company into the ground and squandered all of the investment capital on his own personal expenses and the company shut its doors. The company did reopen, however I was promised that my salary would remain the same. Of course, a week later my boss calls and says that he needs to lower my salary by ten grand. Looking back I regret leaving and it was the dumbest mistake I have made all because of my young and stupid ego. A year or so later the company was acquired and those that stayed cashed out pretty handsomely. Meanwhile I worked a few odd jobs and then just stopped working all together to learn how to write and was heavily in debt. At that point I knew it was time to move back home and get my life straightened out. So I gave up my absolutely amazing apartment that I had in Downtown L.A., packed up my crap, tucked my tail between my legs and headed back to Las Vegas.

I have now been in the car business for over a decade and I have been able to make a great living for myself. I have done everything in sales from being a sales person to a finance manager, a sales manager, the director of business development, the Internet director and I am now the Sales Director. As the Sales Director I am able to control all of my own deals. It’s been a wild journey to say the least. I have been through many hardships, many achievements and continue to work hard to accomplish everything that I know I am capable of. This is a business that even today does not favor women. I have never been one to let that stand in my way. If someone doesn’t like me or respect what I can do simply because I am a women then that just means that I need to work harder. I need to persevere and let my determination come out ahead. Anytime a road block is thrown in my way I look at it as an opportunity to shine and power through it. It’s easy to cry wolf and play the victim card even when it is blatantly obvious that is what is happening but instead I choose to look at it as a new challenge to make me stronger.

At the end of the day, through the good, the bad and the ugly, I can say that I am glad that my father insisted I become a salesperson. This job has molded me into who I am today. If there is something in this life that is important to you and something that you want, it takes working hard to get it. It takes perseverance. It takes determination and having the mental strength to push through whatever stands in your way. I have always had this mentality within me but after working in this business, I realized that I needed to become stronger in all of those areas and I feel like I finally have. These are truths that are plastered into inspirational quotes, messages and themes we all read. Actually living it and having that fortitude to accomplish the goals you set out to do is a whole other thing. It is an amazing feeling and I look forward to what the future continues to hold.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
My career in the car business has been a windy, rocky, uphill road with some racetrack style roads mixed in. I have faced some of my greatest struggles working in this business. They range from working in the cutthroat industry that is sales, to not getting a fair shake for a number of reasons. Through the years I have learned to be careful of who I can trust and confide in because many people are in this business for themselves. This business is not friendly towards women and some even make their feelings known. There is a lot to learn in this business but not many are willing to coach and teach you along the way. People fear that you will take their job so they will only teach you so much. Even though I had my father to help guide me, everyone else threw me in the deep end and said good luck! These obstacles and challenges are what helped me learn and learn real quick at that. Once you make a mistake, you learn to not do it again and how to do it properly. Through trial and error you find your way.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Currently, I am the Sales Director for Findlay Toyota Prescott. I work directly with guests to help find them the perfect vehicle that fits their needs. I have experience in every aspect of the sales process, so I am able to streamline the process of purchasing a vehicle quicker than other sales people. When guests work with me, I handle the entire process up until they meet with one of our Business Managers. This makes their experience much smoother and more efficient as I do not have to go back and forth with another manager to complete the main part of their purchase. Once the guest(s) selects the right vehicle for them, then I handle their purchase proposal and acquire all of the documentation we need for the Business Manager to handle all of their final purchasing paperwork.

Another area that I specialize in is helping people who may have a few bumps on their credit get into a vehicle. When other dealers tell people that they cannot help get them financed, I have found ways to help people or give them information as to what they need to be able to get into a vehicle. I enjoy being able to help people, who may have gone through a rough patch, be able to get into a vehicle and get them on the right path with their credit.

One of my greatest strengths within this business is my customer service. I treat every guest with the same level of professionalism, respect and my undivided attention to ensure they have a great experience purchasing their new vehicle. Customer service is a dying art and I find that to be very disheartening. Customer service should be at the heart of every business and I lead with that mindset. Purchasing a vehicle can be very stressful and aggravating but it really doesn’t need to be. I know that I did my job when people tell me that this is the best buying experience they have ever had.

What matters most to you?
It is important to me that every guest I work with, not only has a great experience but feels confident in their new vehicle when they drive off of the lot with it. A vehicle is said to be the second largest purchase that most people will make. It is a big deal to most people and it is important that my team and I remember that with each and every guest. It is easy to become numb to the ideal of buying a vehicle because my team and I sell a large amount of vehicles month in and month out. With each guest that we work with, we are present and patient with their buying needs. I never want someone to feel rushed or pushed into a vehicle that they do not want or feel comfortable buying. It is very important to me that they, not only have a great time throughout the sales process, but that they also feel confident with their decision because this vehicle will be in their life for quite some time.

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