Having a Career in Selling Cars

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Each year more than 25 million passenger cars are sold in the United States. Franchised dealers sell more than 15 million new cars, and 10 million used cars are sold by new and used car dealers. To sell all these cars a very large work force of salespeople is needed and will continue to be needed as long as Americans' love affair with the automobile continues. Whether an automobile sales worker sells fancy imports, family vans, or used cars, the average salesperson will sell ten cars each month or more than 100 automobiles each year.

What It's Like To Be a Car Salesperson

You will be very knowledgeable about the cars sold at your workplace. This can mean knowing about cars sold by only one manufacturer, several manufacturers, or used cars. You may work indoors in a showroom or outside on a lot. You will frequently work in the evenings and on weekends because that is when customers will be shopping for cars. And it may even be necessary to work on some holidays. Besides being an expert on cars, you will know how to satisfy customers by finding the cars they want. You will be able to detect if they are looking for performance, appearance, economy, special features, or a combination of factors. And you will be proficient in negotiating a price that will satisfy both your workplace and customers.

Let's Find Out What Happens On the Job

Customers will come to the showroom or lot where you work. You will show them several models that you think will meet their needs, being sure to comment on the specific features that may interest them. You will give some customers a test drive to show them how a particular car performs. If a customer is interested in a car, you will negotiate a price, frequently with the help of an assistant manager. Most customers do not purchase cars on their first visit and will require follow-up work to ensure a sale. Besides follow-up work, you will also spend time each day trying to find new customers.

The Pleasures and Pressures of the Job

Being a car salesperson is a job that presents new challenges every day. You are always trying to discover new ways to sell cars. And you study constantly to learn more about the cars you sell as well as those your competitors sell. This job can be stressful. There is the continual pressure of having to generate sales. Much of your income may depend upon how many cars you sell. Beginning car salespersons may even be graded by management on the number of cars they sell.

The Rewards, the Pay, and the Perks

Successful car salespeople are able to earn excellent wages. How much you make usually depends upon how many cars you sell. An unbelievable number of compensation packages exist, ranging from only commission to only salary to different mixes of salary and commission. At present, there is some movement by dealers toward just paying salary. However, only 10 to 15 percent of all salespeople now receive salaries and no commissions.

Getting Started

You really need to be at least a high school graduate in order to get a job as a car salesperson. Because you will be dealing constantly with customers, good communication skills are an absolute necessity for this job. In addition, you need solid basic math skills to handle the negotiations and finance forms. Coursework in English, mathematics, and communication at a community college or college can be quite helpful.

Both new and used car dealers want to hire workers who have sales experience. Having a job in retail sales, whether you sell shoes, sporting goods, or hardware, gives you some of the experience employers are seeking.

Climbing the Career Ladder

Your first step on the ladder in car sales is as a salesperson. You typically will not receive much formal training but will learn on the job working with an assistant sales manager. The next step is to become an assistant sales manager-a position that will require you to negotiate sales with customers. As you climb on up the ladder and become a sales manager, you will make decisions on sales. At the top of the ladder is the general sales manager, who is responsible for all the employees in the sales department.

Things You Can Do To Get a Head Start

Become knowledgeable about cars. Read automobile magazines to learn about the features and performance of different cars. You will need to be an expert on every feature of a number of cars when you become a car salesperson.

After you have a job, you will want to take part in the National Automobile Dealers Association's training and certification program. Through classes and home study you will learn about ethics, law, professional practices, customer satisfaction, and your state sales laws. After working as a salesperson for 6 months, you can take a test and be certified, showing that you are truly a professional in your job.

Now Decide If Selling Cars Is Right for You

A great way to see how well you like sales is to get a part-time or summer job as a sales clerk in your local mall or some other store. You will quickly discover if you have an aptitude for sales. Besides, you will see if you can easily handle the disappointments that occur in a sales career when you fail to get a sale. Furthermore, you will learn if you truly like convincing people to buy a particular product.

Find Out More

Not every person is suited to be an automobile salesperson. To see if you have the skills and qualities of most good automobile salespeople, check this list:

  1. You are a high school graduate.

  2. You received good grades in math, business, psychology, and speech courses.

  3. You are a skillful driver.

  4. You enjoy learning about and sharing your knowledge of the latest technology and design developments for automobiles.

  5. You like working with people and are a friendly person.

  6. You have nice manners and personal appearance.

  7. You enjoy the challenge of matching a person's desires with the right product.

  8. You are not upset by rejection.

  9. You like to talk with people whom you don't know.

  10. You are a hard-working, self-motivated person.

  11. You have had some experience in selling.

  12. You are a good negotiator and persuader.

Find Out More about Selling New and Used Automobiles

The more of these skills and qualified you possess, the better suited you are to a career in automobile sales.

To learn more about selling cars, you will want to contact these organizations for career information:

  • National Automobile Dealers Association

  • National Independent Automobile Dealers Association

  • National Association of Fleet Resale Dealers

You can become knowledgeable about cars by reading car magazines such as Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Motor Trend.
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