Don’t fear this car dealer
Waukesha salesman wins top spot in country-wide competition

By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff

Sept. 1, 2015

 Tom McClusky with a Jaguar F Type. McClusky recently won the number one spot in a nationwide product knowledge and sales presentation competition for Jaguar dealers.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - Anyone in the market for a car knows the stories about the feared wheeler/ dealer. You tiptoe into a frigid showroom with balloons as a cheesy guy in a polyester suit pounces.

Tom McClusky of Waukesha shatters that mold. McClusky recently won the number one spot in a nationwide product knowledge and sales presentation competition for Jaguar dealers.

He started in the car business in 2001 at a different dealership. Later, he thought he wanted to get out of the business for a while, so he became produce manager at Fresh Market in Waukesha. But eventually he returned to selling cars, and he has been at Fields Auto Group, 1901 E Moreland Blvd., for eight years.  

If McClusky wasn’t a car salesman extraordinaire, he would be a chef since he loves to cook. He enjoys golfing and spending time with his fiancŽe Patty.

When he started at Fields Auto, he met Dan Fields and Fields’ family.  He said, “They allowed us to not be the car salesperson everybody is afraid of.” There is a conversational tone to the sales tactic at Fields Auto. McClusky admires how the car dealership does business and that it is customer-oriented.

His general sales manager, Derek Stackhouse, said McClusky is very organized. He said, “He is super detail-oriented. We work hard here and ratings and reviews are super important to us. That is what our success is built on, which is our customers. “


Getting to number one

In January McClusky was contacted by the factory to tell him based on survey scores, quantity of cars sold and a sales volume group, he fell into the top two percent. He said, “First you have to be master qualified, do schooling and go to launch events. The opportunity gives an invitation to Southern California to compete. 36 of us were in the competition, and eight finalists would get a trip to England.”

The test, as they were told, is “just like going to work.” It involved a five-minute phone call, a 20-minute showroom presentation and an email followup.

The showroom presentation and phone call are with an actor. McClusky’s phone call was with a female high-powered attorney currently driving an Audi midsize sedan and was looking for a bigger vehicle. He told her a Jaguar XJ would be perfect and she should come in and check it out.

The actress came in, fully in character with a sharp suit and behaving stoically. The judges were watching and listening to every word. McClusky also was aware of the time ticking away. Every question the actor tosses out is quite weighted. He said, “The easiest thing is to overthink it, and question what they are looking for. I did what I thought was proper and the right way to handle the situation.”

Partway through, he realized he needed to find the human being inside the “attorney.” “My actual day-to-day is talking with a person who reacts to things I say or do,” he said.  “It is different than this rigid robotic process.”

He eventually got the “attorney” into the vehicle to show her the features.

“We discussed her needs assessment,” he said.  He showed her the button on the dash that controls the heating and air-conditioning seats.

“I said to her, ‘You said you travel with colleagues, don’t you?’ She said she travels all the time with colleagues. I said, ‘Right here is a button for the rear seats. Every now and again, turn on the heated seats to the guy behind you.’ The classics will never grow old. She chuckled and said ‘Now that is funny!’ I felt, I got something.” He then had to craft a follow-up email once she left.

Afterwards, McClusky said, he thought of a million things he could have done differently as he compared notes with the 35 other participants. Although McClusky was pretty hard on himself, another salesman said, “I wouldn’t even buy a car from me based on my presentation!”

But McClusky was one of the eight finalists, and it wasn’t long before they were attending the awards dinner in England. When the president of training for Jaguar Land Rover North America salesmen began reading their names, McClusky just felt grateful to be there. But the best was yet to come. 

The president said the winner had the best delivery and presentation they had ever seen, and McClusky’s name was called.

“I thought I was dreaming, and it was a good time to wake up,” he said.

Back on the job, and loving it

McClusky loves the variety of people who walk through the door. He said, “I get couples where I’m in the back seat of a test drive and they are arguing. They ask for my opinion, I have a strong policy that I won’t take sides until the contract is signed, then one of you is absolutely right.

“We don’t have a stick-shock issue here. Customers know what they are in for when walking into the showroom. They do it big and they do it right.”

He says the company’s training process is a major reason for his success: “They give us the tools we need to succeed. The factory produces beautiful cars that perform better than people realize and people who you work for let you be you.”