Consider a Rewarding Career Selling Cars

Car salesman shaking hands with woman and son
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A career in auto sales can be a rewarding and profitable. Not only can sales professionals earn an impressive income, but the sales skills learned can be priceless.

Car Dealerships

Unless you have the financial resources to start your own car business, you will be working for an established car dealership. In this position, you will report to the dealership each working day, meet with your sales manager, prepare for the day, and spend time with your co-workers. Like any other job, if the dealership and workers are difficult, you will be challenged to enjoy your position in auto sales. For unlike outside sales positions, you will be spending long hours at the dealership.

Choosing to work for a dealership that is well respected and that fosters an encouraging and supportive environment is crucial to your long-term success and happiness. While those who have been out of work for any length of time may suggest that choosing where you work is often not an option, most dealerships experience high turn-over rates, creating many opportunities for those interested in auto sales. As with any job, researching local dealerships will likely reveal the ones with a healthy work environment.

Selling New, Used, or Both

Most dealerships carry both new and used automobiles. In general, more money is earned when selling used cars as opposed to new cars. When shopping for a new car, customers come prepared with information such as competitive quotes found on the internet.

Dealers that only sell used cars usually have fewer sales representatives, fewer cars on their lots, and a reputation of being "used car salesmen." While there are used car sales professionals who embody this negative reputation, the tag is largely unwarranted and should not dissuade you from pursuing a possibly lucrative and rewarding sales career.

Compensation Program

Most auto sales professionals will have a compensation program that includes both a base salary and a commission program. While this blended compensation plan is common, most dealerships have their own variation of this plan. Some may only offer commissions on used car sales and give placement fees for sales of new cars. Others may not provide a salary or may offer a "draw" against commissions.

The compensation model your dealership offers needs to be fully understood before you start selling any vehicles. As with any compensation plan, there will be ways to maximize your earnings by focusing on certain areas. Only with a full understanding of your compensation plan can you determine what sales skills to develop the most to be successful.

Note that the dealership with have their preferred areas on which they want their sales representatives to focus. Fortunately, most established dealerships have intelligently designed their compensation plans to motivate their representatives to sell the vehicles that make the most profit.

Pros and Cons

Beyond a lucrative compensation plan, a successful auto sales representative often enjoys demo cars, manufacturer bonus plans, discounts on vehicles, service, and auto parts.

The main downside to auto sales is the long hours that most representatives are expected to work. It is not uncommon for an auto salesperson to work 12- to 14- hour days, many of which are spent waiting for customer visits. While this downtime can be used to talk with other sales representatives, the most successful people use their downtime to follow up on prospects, call customers to make sure all is going well with their new vehicle, or spend time improving their sales skills.

A Success Story

Auto sales legend Joe Girard, who is widely accepted as the greatest car salesperson in the world, focused on maintaining relationships with past customers. Joe sent birthday cards, holiday greetings, and car anniversary notes to all of his customers. The message he wrote in most of these notes was simply, "I like you!" By cultivating and tending to a personal relationship with each of his customers, Joe let them know that he values them as well as their business. As a result, his loyal customers were more likely to revisit the dealership and spread the word about Joe to other prospects.