Vehicle sales executives will spend their time working with individual customers to understand their needs, help them view and test drive the most appropriate vehicle, and agree the sale. Car sales jobs are often commission based, so it is vital that those entering the profession are hungry to build their client base and hit sales targets.

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, vehicle 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 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.

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.

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, 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.

How much does a car salesperson earn?

Starting salary: £12,000 – £15,000

Experienced: £15,000 – £17,000

Senior: £17,000 – £40,000

Commission will increase these figures, so actual take-home pay could be significantly higher.

These figures are intended as a guide and come from the National Careers Service.

Take a look at the map below to find out what the average panel beater salary is in your area. The figures come from 2017 InAutomotive data.

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.

Browse our sales vacancies today.

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