The main duty of automobile salespeople is to help customers find a vehicle
that matches both their needs and their finances. Automobile salespeople can
sell used or new vehicles -- or both.
Salespeople work inside, in the showroom, and outside, on the car lot.
They do a lot of talking on the job. They get to know customers in order to
find out what their lives are like so they can pair them with the car most
suited for them. They set up test drives and answer questions from potential
Automobile salespeople need to know cars. You need to be able to answer
lots of questions from customers about a car's specs (slang for "specifications").
Salespeople also need to deal with a lot of paperwork. They talk to customers
about warranties, credit terms, trade-in allowances and other financial aspects
of a sale. Some basic computer skills are required.
People skills are very important for an automobile salesperson. Because
an average day of work could mean talking to dozens of people and attempting
to get them to buy a car, they need to be outgoing and friendly, but they
also need to know when to back away and give the customers some space.
Blair Qualey is the president and CEO of a car dealers' association. He
says being a "people person" is an important trait for an automobile salesperson.
"I'm sure there are some who are not big people persons, but I'm not sure
how successful they'd be. The people who are successful are very organized,
they're gregarious, they're friendly, they know their material, they spend
a lot of time nurturing and developing contacts."
And the old days of the auto salesperson having a reputation as being too
pushy are coming to an end. You'll still find the occasional salesperson out
there who goes for the hard-sell approach, but more and more, dealerships
are realizing that method turns people away.
"There are always going to be people out there who use some of the old
tricks," says Qualey. "But the industry is a lot more sophisticated in terms
of sales than it was before."
The Internet is changing the industry a lot. Some sales are done entirely
online. But even online sales are often still done through an auto salesperson.
And people usually still want to see a car in person before they make the
"Yes, the Internet is becoming the new way of buying a car," says Sherry
Linton. Linton is a product specialist selling automobiles. "There is lots
you can do over the Internet with pictures, info, etc. I sold two trucks today
over the Internet. One customer was about three hours away and the other was
four hours away."
It's important to have a lot of stamina as an auto salesperson. Even if
it's a slow day on the lot, there is always behind-the-scenes work to do.
There is paperwork to be done and customers to call and check up on. And there
are always new products to read about.
It's often a 40-hour work week, but some salespeople work up to 60 hours
a week during busy times. The long hours and extended periods of time either
standing or sitting can be tiring for some people.
Depending on the dealership, auto salespeople make a base salary and commission
for each vehicle they sell.
This can be a very competitive industry, with auto salespeople competing
with their co-workers for sales.