A Typical Daly in the Life of a Car Salesman

A typical day in the life of a car salesman is not easy.

I want to take a moment and give you an idea of what a car salesman goes through during a typical day at a car dealership. Remember when you show up to look at cars five minutes before the dealership is about to close.

Even though I take a humorous approach to how a typical day plays out for a salesperson in a dealership. I’ve had several hundred car salesmen email me from car dealerships all over the country confirming the truths within my article, “Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman.”

I’ve decided to leave out a few things to protect the innocent. Take a car for a brief errand off-site, napping in a minivan on the lot, or even drive to your girlfriend’s place for a couple of hours. (Don’t laugh, you know who you are.)

Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman

The following timeline is a fairly detailed list of what an average car salesperson may go through in a typical day working at a car dealership.

7:00 am

  • Get up early and check the weather; it’s going to be a hot one, 102 degrees and muggy. State the “Car Salesman’s Mantra,” better get to the car dealership by 7:45 am.
  • Check social media sites to grab something to eat on the way to the dealership.
  • Arrive at the dealership, open up cars, move cars to display areas, blow up, and display balloons or banners.

8:15 am

  • Go to the morning meeting for the “pump up speech” by managers (or yelled at for the poor performance from the day before, you never know).
  • Beat a couple of levels on Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, or whatever game you happen to be dominating.
  • Work the phones, text messages, and email. Follow up with your previous customers or cold call a few new ones.
  • Complete thank you cards and write follow-up letters to previous customers you’ve worked with. (Don’t forget to ask, “Who do they know needing a new car?”)
  • Get yelled at by the manager for sitting at your desk and not being outside on the point (front of the store waiting for drive-in traffic).
  • Go outside and get on point to wait for ups (customers) to stumble onto the lot.

10:00 am

  • Politely greet an up (customer) and get yelled at by the customer because they don’t want any help.
  • Have to keep trying to assist the customer, so you don’t get yelled at by a Manager for not taking control of the customer.
  • The customer leaves the dealership, and you don’t get their name, phone, or address for the “up-log.”
  • Get yelled at by the manager for letting the customer walk and be told you can leave if you walk another one.
  • Management has a lot party. Salespeople must rearrange all the cars and trucks on the lot to give it a fresh look.

12:00 pm

  • Go to lunch (make it quick you’re paid by commission) can’t make money if you’re eating lunch.
  • Slam down your lunch, return to the dealership and get back on point.
  • Get yelled at by the sales manager for standing around and not being on the phones prospecting.
  • Get on the phone and get yelled at by another manager for being at your desk and not out on the point.
  • Get another customer, present, and test drive six different cars in 100* weather.
  • Spend 5 hours with the customer, and the deal falls through because of financing (totally out of the salesman’s control).

5:00 pm

  • Go out back and throw rocks at the dumpster to clear your head about the last car sale you just lost to financing.
  • Go back to the front of the dealership and get back on point.
  • Management decides to get prepared for a Red Tag Sale for the upcoming weekend.
  • You get in and out of hot cars with your fellow salesman to hang red tags from the rearview mirrors of every vehicle on the lot.
  • You spend another hour and a half standing out on the point, greeting other salespeople’s appointments as they show up on the lot (at least you finally beat that level on Candy Crush).

8:30 pm

  • You finally get an up (customer) right before closing time. You meet, greet, sheet, and qualify. You’re ready to go home but have a good feeling about this one.
  • You do a couple of presentations, and test drive a couple of cars. You finally get them landed on a vehicle.
  • You write up the deal and present the numbers to the customer. Being unrealistic, the customer grinds the heck out of you for the best deal possible.
  • After several trips back and forth to the desk, the customer starts to get cold feet and begins making excuses that they’re hungry and it’s getting late (time for a Turn-Over).
  • The sales manager calls you weak because you can’t close your customer and embarrasses you in front of your peers.
  • The manager catches your customer on the way out the door, says the same thing you did, and now magically agrees to buy the car (which happens all the time).

10:30 pm

  • You turn the customer over to the finance manager as you get their new car ready for delivery (too bad detail has already left for the evening, better roll up your sleeves).
  • You now have the car detailed, fueled, and ready for delivery and are waiting for the customer to get out of the finance office. (what is taking so long?).
  • 3+ hours from greeting your customer, you deliver their new car to them.
  • You end up making a $100 mini commission because of some finance issue causing the profit on the deal to get cut (entirely out of the salesman’s control, they either cut the deal or lose it all).
  • You find out the customer has previously talked with another salesman, and now you must split your commission in half (you just went from a $100 mini to a $50 split deal).
  • You help lock up the cars on the lot (pull handles).
  • Help the managers lock up the dealership for the night.

11:45 pm

  • It’s been a long day, and it’s time to go home. At least you sold a car, beat a couple of levels on your game, and made $50 today. Go wind down and get some sleep.
  • Rinse and repeat, and do it again the next day at 7:45 am (Don’t be late).

In Conclusion

In my “Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman” scenario, the car salesman sold a car right at the last minute … this does not happen often.

Most of the time, a car salesperson will have to work hours past closing time to have the car deal fall through at the very last minute due to credit issues or something out of the salesman’s control.

(In 2022 the average car salesman sold 10 to 15 cars a month)

Be Polite and Courteous to Your Car Salesperson

I’m not suggesting you feel sorry for car salespeople; they choose to sell cars for a living. I wanted to show you how their day plays typically out. I left quite a bit out of the above list, i.e., helping parts and service customers, assisting customers whose salesperson is out for the day, jump-starting cars, and putting on people’s license plates —all while being paid commission only.

My point is that you want to be nice to the salesman that approaches you. You’ll be able to get further with a salesperson with a bit of sugar and less salt. When I sold cars, I always went the extra mile for the customer, which showed me a little respect.

When I assisted someone who was polite and had done their homework, I did my very best to complete the car buying process for them promptly and professionally. Knowing that most people hate the car buying process, I tried to make it the most enjoyable experience I could do for them.

When working with an educated customer, I knew I would most likely get a “mini” (minimum commission) for a quick, easy deal. So again, I wanted to get them through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible. These mini-deals didn’t make massive commissions, but they added to a salesperson’s “unit bonus.” (A bonus for salespeople when they sell a certain number of cars).

I’ve met many fascinating people in my car sales career, and I still keep in touch with some of my long-time repeat customers.

Considering a Career in Car Sales?

Suppose you’re reading this because you’re considering making retail car sales a career path. I would say, “Go for it!” You can make a good living selling cars.

The rewards of selling cars can be great, but it’s not as easy as it looks and can be very tough the first few months if you’re not prepared and don’t know what to look out for.

Visit my other article, Life Cycle of a Car Salesman, to better understand some of the physical and mental obstacles you may encounter on your journey to becoming a professional car salesman.

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.