Mark Sattler is the kind of sales pro most dealers dream of having on their team. He has spent the past 38 years at the same store, and in all that time, he has only missed two days of work, powering through colds, headaches and laryngitis. With a sense of determination he credits to his father and grandfather, Sattler is proving that hard work and dedication can lead to personal and professional fulfillment.
Sattler’s official title is Internet sales manager at Nielsen Mitsubishi Subaru in Portage, Ind. His automotive industry career began with an 11-year stint as a service tech. During that time, he recalls, customers often asked whom they should go to for their sales needs. After years spent crossing his fingers and praying they would be treated as well as he hoped, he decided to take the plunge into the sales side of the business.
“I’m glad I did it,” he says. “I’m still helping people, but not getting my hands dirty doing it!”
Last year, he was ranked as the No. 26 Subaru salesperson in his region — narrowly missing Top 25 recognition, which he hopes to earn this year — all without administrative aid. He averages around 20 sales per month while representing a brand with such high demand and limited stock that many clients have to wait as long as six to eight weeks to take delivery.
No matter, Sattler says, considering the way today’s car buyers operate. “I’ve dealt with people who take an entire year to do their shopping,” he says. “This is the car they really, really want.”
Sattler works every day, including Sundays, when dealerships are closed statewide. He uses the quiet time to sort through about half his collected email and Web inquiries, easing his Monday-morning workload, which typically includes multiple deliveries. He no longer takes any ups, relying solely on repeat, referral and family business. He and most of his own extended family drives Subarus, something Sattler is very proud of. He relates a tale about a customer who came to him several years ago after calling sales pros at other dealerships and asking, “What do you drive?” Sattler was the only one who said he drove his own brand, and he won her business.
“You’ve got to get excited” about your brand, he says. “Well, you don’t have to, but you should be. I have it in my soul.”
“I’ve probably managed over 2,000 salesmen in my time and I know one when I see one,” says Sattler’s boss, Mike Guistolisi, general manager of operations. “He’s just a professional. Never a beef, never a problem, always here. He’s that guy. You know he’s going to do what he’s going to do. I give him all the latitude he needs, and all he does is work hard.”
Guistolisi joined Nielsen Mitsubishi Subaru three years ago, and even before he arrived, he already knew about Sattler. “His reputation was phenomenal. We have a local paper that does the Salesman of the Corridor, and he’s got plaques all over the wall. … He is the consummate pro. And there’s a whole lot of room for those in this business.”
Sattler does threaten to retire about every six months, Guistolisi notes, but he has yet to follow through. Sattler acknowledges this with his usual good humor.
“All I’m doing is testing Mike’s reactions,” he says with a laugh. “He knows, deep down, I don’t even have that on my mind right now. I have no plans to slow down.”
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