Career Development

How to Become a Car Salesman

February 22, 2021

Car sales representatives are an important component of the automotive industry and can help individuals make an ideal decision when choosing what type of vehicle to invest in. They also play an imperative role in the overall profitability of a car dealership. While this career requires a number of qualifications and takes tremendous dedication, it can be a fulfilling job for many.

In this article, we will explore what a car salesperson does, the average salary of car sales representatives and the steps you can take to pursue this career path.

What does a car salesperson do?

A car salesperson's primary job is to assist potential customers in selecting a new vehicle for purchase or lease. Car sales representatives may help customers evaluate potential automobiles by explaining various aspects of a car, such as its make, model, mileage rates and features. They may also accompany clients during a test drive in which the customer can drive the car to get a feel for how it runs.

To be an effective car salesperson, you must know all the details of the cars you will be showing to customers. This means that car salespeople often spend a large portion of time studying the ins and outs of vehicles and becoming familiar with the various aspects of how particular cars work. Automotive salespeople also complete all paperwork associated with the purchase or lease of a vehicle and must be knowledgeable of various policies and procedures related to this process. This includes understanding the financial aspects of buying or leasing a car as well as how various loan institutions work and what type of offers they provide to potential customers.

The following are various duties that a car sales representative may perform while on the job:

  • Study the characteristics, features and capabilities of the cars available
  • Stay up-to-date on the competitive models of vehicles offered at the car salesperson's dealership
  • Educate customers on various car details
  • Match customers with vehicles that most meet their criteria for a desired vehicle
  • Stay in contact with potential customers via phone or email
  • Respond to vehicle inquiries made by potential customers
  • Negotiate price and car features to help solidify a deal
  • Complete reports to provide information on sales to management
  • Participate in sales training offered by the dealership
  • Create and process all paperwork associated with a car sale or lease

Related: Top Questions to Expect During a Sales Interview

Average salary of a car salesperson

The average salary of a car salesperson is $62,642 a year. However, this number can vary significantly depending on a number of factors. Many car salespeople are given a base salary, which is a set income that they will receive no matter what.

What determines a car salesperson's overall income is the commission they make from selling or leasing vehicles. Each dealership varies, but the average commission for these professionals is 20 to 25% of the dealership's earnings. So, if a car is sold for $30,000 and the dealership makes $20,000 from this sale, the car salesperson would be given $4,000 to $5,000 in commission. Working at high-end dealerships and having a high rate of sales can increase a car salesperson's salary significantly.

Related: 15 Sales Jobs That Pay Well

How to become a car salesperson

The following are the steps you can take to pursue a career as a car sales representative:

  1. Complete the required minimum education
  2. Gain work experience
  3. Get licensed
  4. Complete training

1. Complete the required minimum education

Most car salespeople are required to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Having this will typically allow you to apply for most car salesperson positions. However, if your ultimate goal is to eventually become a sales manager or a related position, you should consider pursuing further education, such as a bachelor's degree in business or finance.

2. Gain work experience

Many car dealerships require potential employees to have some form of experience in a sales position. Being able to demonstrate your ability to effectively communicate and exhibit a high level of customer service will set you apart from other candidates. You can gain sales experience in any job that involves customer service and face-to-face interaction with clients, such as a retail position.

3. Get licensed

While not all states require car salespeople to be licensed, some do. Each state will vary in its requirements for automotive salespeople. For example, California requires people in this career field to submit an application and pay a fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles to be eligible to sell cars in the state. Some states may require individuals to take an exam.

4. Complete training

Once you have successfully been hired as a car salesperson, you will likely need to complete a training course before becoming eligible to sell cars on your own. These training programs typically teach individuals how the dealership works as well as provide education on the specific type of cars the dealership offers.

Frequently asked questions about a career as a car salesperson

The following are the most commonly asked questions related to pursuing and obtaining a career as an automotive salesperson:

What is the work environment like for a car salesperson?

A car sales representative will typically spend time both outdoors and indoors. Many dealerships display their cars outside of the dealership, meaning that a car salesperson will need to be outside when showing customers cars. When inside, a car salesperson will typically work in an office environment and may have their own office. A car salesperson may spend a large part of their workday standing.

What skills does a car sales representative need?

One of the most important skills needed to be a car salesperson is the ability to be persuasive and effectively communicate with customers. Car salespeople spend much of their time educating customers on certain vehicles as well as helping them make the right decision as to which car will best suit the customers' needs. They may also need to persuade hesitant customers to buy a car and may also have to work with challenging clients. Knowing how to efficiently communicate can increase a car salesperson's success.

Additional skills that car salespeople should have include:

  • Customer service skills
  • Technical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Listening skills
  • Organization skills
  • Adaptability
  • Financial skills

Related: Learn About Being a Sales Associate

What is the work schedule like for a car salesperson?

Most car sales representatives work full time, or an average of 40 hours a week. A car salesperson's schedule may not be set, however. For example, a car salesperson may work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday one week and then work from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday the next week. Many car dealerships are open nights and weekends, so car salespeople may be required during these times as well.

Related

View More 

How To Read a P&L Report in 7 Steps (And Why It's Important)

Learn how to analyze a P&L statement, what a P&L statement includes, why it's important and how to understand it as a measure of a company's success.

How To Calculate and Improve Your Video Completion Rate

Learn about video completion rate, how to calculate it, the importance of measuring it and learn seven tips for increasing the completion rate on your videos.