A car salesman sells new and/or used cars at a dealership. The role mainly involves speaking to customers about their vehicle needs, showing them cars that match those needs, organising test drives, and ultimately selling a car to them. Car sales jobs are often commission based.
Invariably, sales executives will work for a dealership that represents one or more major manufacturer. These dealerships may sell new cars or motorbikes, commercial vehicles, or used vehicles. The work is largely showroom based. While not a traditional 9 to 5 job, car sales executives will still work between 37 and 40 hours per week, often on a shift rota, including weekends and bank holidays. In this role, the norm is to earn a basic salary with the potential to earn commission for each sale.
Car sales executives will usually work as part of a team under the guidance of a sales manager. You will be expected to effectively manage existing customers and spend time building new sales leads. If you have good communication, networking, and IT skills, in addition to good mechanical knowledge, this could be a good career path for you. Read on to find out more.
What does a car salesperson do?
Day-to-day responsibilities might include:
- Communicating with customers via email, telephone, and in person.
- Suggesting suitable vehicles based on customer needs.
- Arranging test-drives and accompanying customers on these tests.
- Negotiating the final price for the sale.
- Selling accessories or other services once a vehicle has been chosen.
- Completing the paperwork for each sale.
- Helping to increase the customer database and prospecting potential sales.
- Liaising with the service team to ensure sold cars are prepped to a high standard and are ready for delivery within the agreed timescale.
What education does a car salesman need?
It’s not necessary for a car salesman to have a university degree, or college A-levels. GCSE’s are usually required – more specifically A* – C in English, Maths and Science.
What qualifications do you need to become a car salesperson?
Irrespective of whether you come from a motor industry background or not, most dealerships will provide in-house training when you start your career followed by ongoing development and support programmes.
Previous experience is not always essential for these roles. More important is a drive to succeed, a genuine interest in the automotive industry, an outgoing personality, and a commitment to working hard to achieve targets. Employers tend to look for excellent organisational skills, the ability to communicate articulately and be well presented. A full UK driving license is essential.
Even though it isn’t compulsory, if you are committed to a career in the motor industry you may want to join a professional association. These are valuable for networking and for getting the latest insights in your profession. There may also be advice on how to develop your career in terms of further training and qualifications. The bodies representing the sales industry are the Association of Professional Sales, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and the Institute of Sales Management.
How much does a car salesperson earn?
Most dealerships pay a base salary of minimum wage. Commission will also be available on top of your base salary, the amount of which will vary, depending on how many cars you sell.
Starting salary: £12,000 – £15,000
Experienced: £15,000 – £25,000
Senior: £20,000 – £50,000
Overall average salary: £40,322.79*
*InAutomotive data 2019
Commission will increase these figures, so actual take-home pay could be significantly higher.
Take a look at the map below to find out what the average car sales salary is in your region.
What skills do you need to become a car salesperson?
Communication skills: The ability to speak with customers in a professional, yet friendly manner is essential. This is a career path that suits outgoing personalities.
Negotiation skills: This is important in deciding the final price of the sale. You will sometimes have to take the trade-in value of the customer’s old car into consideration.
Problem solving skills: The ability to find solutions for your customer.
Mathematical ability: Number skills will help with negotiating the best financial deals.
IT skills: Many of your duties, such as keeping up to date with stock levels and searching for other vehicles for your customers, will require using computerised databases.
Technical knowledge: You will need to have some mechanical understanding and to be able to explain this in everyday language.
Knowledge of the product: It’s beneficial to have an understanding of the brand you could be selling to give customers an insight as to what they are paying for.
Will this job fit my personality?
Working in car sales is competitive but exciting, particularly if you’re new to the profession. Those who thrive in this type of job may have the following qualities:
As a car salesperson, you will report to a dealership that will sell specific brands or types of cars, like new or used. you will typically report in to the sales manager, and spend time with co-workers, but mostly customers searching for a car.
What are your career prospects as a car salesperson?
Once you feel you have proven your ability as a sales executive, you may start to consider what your next career move might be. You could become a team manager, or look after credit finance products and wider areas of the business as a business manager. You could even look into setting up your own dealership with the experience you have gained.
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