All About Car Salespeople And What They Do

Not All Car Salespeople are Unethical

Car salesman tips, secrets and advice.

A car salesman is someone that may look like your best friend, neighbor, family member, male or female. Whatever reason someone becomes a car salesman, it doesn’t matter; they are there to do a job. I believe car salespeople are the backbone of a car dealership. They are an essential piece of the puzzle regarding buying a car.

They’re also the buffer zone between you and management at the dealership. Having the car salesman on your side will only help you through the buying process. Remember, they’re not in control of the pricing of the vehicle you buy. There is a new or used car sales manager behind the curtain with his magic pencil.

What is a Car Salesperson?

A car salesman is a retail salesperson who sells new or used cars. Unlike traditional retail sales, car sales are sometimes negotiable. Car salespeople work for automobile dealerships specializing in specific brands and models of automobiles.

They are responsible for meeting and greeting customers and showing and selling automobiles to customers that visit the dealership.

Car salespeople are highly trained in the art of sales and will use their persuasive skills to overcome objections to selling cars.

Additional information about car salespeople:

  • Not all car salesmen are unethical. Many out there are honest, hard-working individuals who will provide you with a great car buying experience.
  • Some car dealerships pay their salespeople a draw every month. This could be up to $2000 or more. The salesperson has to make at least that much by the end of the month to break even. Suppose the salesperson does not at least make enough money to pay the dealer back. The dealer will roll over the deficit amount to the next month. If a salesperson consistently cannot at least sell enough to cover the draw. The dealer will most likely let them go.
  • A car salesperson may work 60+ hours per week to make a good living in the retail car business.
  • The car salesman is not in control of the vehicle’s pricing; there is a sales manager to whom they must report.
  • Most car salespeople start out selling new cars. It is typically the more experienced salespeople in the used car sales department.
  • The average car salesman sells 10 to 15 cars a month. The salesman who consistently sells 12 vehicles or less may be considered substandard and maybe let go from the dealership.

Skills Needed to Become a Car Salesperson

A successful car salesperson will need to have a variety of abilities and traits, such as:

  • Communication
  • Professionalism
  • Sales abilities
  • Customer service
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills

Basic Requirements of Becoming a Car Salesperson

Below are the basic requirements for becoming a car salesperson in many dealerships across the country.  The more of these requirements you possess will be an advantage to you as you progress in your career.

  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • High school diploma or an associate’s degree
  • A polished look, amiable demeanor, and upbeat attitude
  • An ability to handle rejection
  • A love for customer service and sales
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication abilities
  • Strong negotiating and customer service abilities
  • The capacity to sustain competition while upholding client interests
  • A successful track record in selling cars would be advantageous

Car Salesman Responsibilities

Selling a car is not a car salesperson’s only responsibility.

There are quite a few other things they do during their day that does and doesn’t affect their pay plan.

Additional car salesman responsibilities include:

  • Converting showroom visitors into buyers by ascertaining their requirements and preferences, then pairing them with the ideal vehicle.
  • Helping car-buyers complete the necessary papers to complete a successful car sale.
  • Learning the traits, capacities, and features of every automobile, as well as giving the prospective buyer complete information and comparing various rival models.
  • Displaying automobile features and taking buyers for test drives.
  • Building rapport and establishing a connection with prospective clients to increase the likelihood that a transaction will be made in the future.
  • Following up and keeping in touch with customers and keeping a customer database.
  • Keeping track of inventory and sales in our CRM system and maintaining reporting structures.
  • Helping to set up exhibits for the showroom and marketing campaigns.
  • Working together with teammates to hit sales goals.

Car Salesman Work Environment

Car salespeople work inside and outside in the elements.  They typically do negotiations and paperwork inside the showroom of a dealership or in an office.  They show, demonstrate, and test-drive vehicles outside.

A typical day for a vehicle salesperson includes:

  • Interacting with customers on the dealership lot and showroom
  • Dealing with extreme heat or cold during different seasons
  • Attending sales meetings, training, etc. inside the dealership
  • Walking or using golf carts to navigate large dealership lots
  • Coping with and handling rejection consistently
  • Sitting at a desk using a computer or doing paperwork with car-buyers
  • Traveling as a passenger while car-buyers test drive vehicles
  • Driving several different types and styles of new and used vehicles
  • Setting up new displays and rearranging cars on the lot

How Does a Car Salesman Get Paid?

Have you ever noticed when you drive onto a dealership’s lot how the car salespeople close in on you from all sides?

One of the reasons this happens is because of how car salespeople are paid for their services, and in traditional dealerships, most are paid commission only.

The dealer knows paying salespeople only commission keeps them hungry and ensures they will either produce sales or not make any money.

The secret formula to becoming a successful car salesman is simple:

“Sell a car = GET PAID!”

A car salesman’s pay plan can be very complicated and may take some time to get used to if you’ve been on a salary or used to being paid by the hour.

Several different factors come into play with how car salespeople get paid. They can make money on each unit, how many cars they sell, how fast they sell cars, and several different bonuses and spiffs set forth by management.

Read more about how car salespeople get paid to learn about the different opportunities they have to make money in a car dealership.

A Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesperson

Choosing to sell cars for a career can be an enriching experience, but it’s not for everyone. You must be able to talk to people, work long hours, and handle rejection day in and day out. If you’re able to do these things, you will be able to help people purchase one of the most expensive items they will buy in their lifetime, a new or used car.

Most car salespeople get paid on a commission basis, which means they’re not making any money if they are not selling a car. Car sales associates must do many day-to-day tasks that have nothing to do with selling cars. These tasks may include helping service customers, moving and arranging cars, helping previous customers, and more.

Although these individuals have chosen car sales as their career, when visiting a car dealership, there is no reason for you to be mean or rude to the salesman that approaches you. If they do not greet you as soon as you arrive at the dealer’s property, their sales manager will scold them.

I break down a typical day in the life of a car salesman so you can take a look at what car salespeople go through during a day working at a car dealership.

What is the Life Cycle of a Car Salesman?

Professional retail car sales can be a fun and rewarding career choice.

If you’ve decided to be a professional car salesperson, the next step is to recognize the “career killers” and “pitfalls” that lie ahead.

10% Skill 90% Attitude

Professional car sales, like most careers, consist of plenty of mental and physical stress. As with any profession, you should study and learn as much as possible to make yourself knowledgeable about your choice. You can have all the skills in the world, but if you don’t have the attitude, you will fail.

The first year is significant when deciding to make car sales a career. I’ve broken down the first year for you, so you can be aware of some of the mental meltdowns that may destroy a gratifying career.

Suppose you’re considering becoming a car salesperson. You will want to read more detail about the stages in a car salesman’s career that everyone will experience when deciding to become a car salesman. Knowing these stages and how they can affect you will significantly increase your chances of becoming a professional car salesman.

The Secret Language of a Car Salesman

There is a unique language in car dealerships across the country. My list is easily the most extensive compiled list of car salesman slang, lingo, sayings, and terms on the internet.

Car salespeople are the ones who invented this secret coded language over the decades so they can speak freely in front of unsuspecting customers.

There are terms used to describe each other, the car-buying process, and certain day-to-day activities. You’re almost guaranteed to hear at least one of the following terms while visiting a car dealership. Be careful; they may be talking about you.

Please familiarize yourself with the car salesman’s secret dealership language.

About the author
Carlton Wolf is the author and founder of Auto Cheat Sheet.My name is Carlton Wolf, and I’ve been in the car business since 1994, both retail and wholesale. I created the Auto Cheat Sheet to better educate buyers about the deceptive sales practices used by many dealerships throughout the country. Please understand that not all car dealers are dishonest. However, you never know who you’ll be dealing with, though. I’m willing to share my knowledge and experience with anyone who listens. Keep in mind that I’m a car guy, not a writer.