What Does It Take To Be A Car Salesman?

To car buyers and consumer advocates, car salesmen are often seen as the enemy; the 800-pound gorilla they’ll have to wrestle to buy a car. Well, the BuyingAdvice team would like to show you the other side of the glass. What does it take to be a car salesman? Read on to find out.

Who Becomes A Car Salesman?
There’s no general profile of a car salesman. All kinds of people go into sales, from all backgrounds, for various reasons. There’s no required education level required for car sales, but dealerships do look for certain traits in their sales force: Aggressiveness, gregariousness, and self-confidence. It’s not unheard of for dealerships to give prospective salesmen personality tests before they’re hired.

Occupational Hazards
Car sales is a notoriously high turnover profession. When you find out the downsides of the job, you’ll understand why.

  • Commission
    Most dealerships do not provide a set wage. If the salesman sells nothing, then he makes nothing. Considering the scenario, is it any wonder some salesmen will go to any length to get a new car off the lot?

  • Being The Enemy
    When Chandler Phillips, a veteran investigative reporter, worked a brief stint as a car salesman, he was taken aback by how customers would respond to him. Some would look at him as if he were some sort of monster. Others screamed for him to go away when he greeted them.

    Car salesmen are considered the enemy, and they’re often treated like it. Salesmen are used to rude, lying customers. This of course, develops into something of a feedback loop. The customer expects dishonesty, so he lies to the salesman. The salesman grows to expect dishonesty, so he lies to the next customer. The best course of action? Be honest and upfront with the salesman, and educate yourself so you won’t be fooled easily.

  • Aggressive Management
    Perhaps one car salesman and blogger, who goes by “Bemused,” put it best when he asked, “How many times a day do you get called ‘weak’… by your boss?” If a salesman is putting pressure on you, then you can bet that he’s getting it from above.

    Bemused then goes on to explain why he’s retiring from car sales. He says that at one time, he was one of the most popular salesmen at his dealership, due to his laid back sales style. But new management was insisting that the sales team employ high pressure tactics, such as endlessly calling potential customers.

Which brings up another point about sales managers. They can make or break the deal at any point. For instance, let’s say you’re a salesman. You’ve worked out a deal with an individual interested in buying a Ford Focus, but then your manager steps in and raises the price. The customer walks away angry, you’ve just lost a big chunk of your pay, and there was absolutely nothing you could have done about it.

The Reason For High Pressure Sales
If people are so scared of pressure cooker tactics, then why do dealerships insist on selling cars this way? The most likely reason is tradition. Pushy sales tactics might not make a lot of sense in the 21st century, but they were a necessity after World War II. Men were coming back from the front lines, money in hand, and they were ready to buy cars. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough vehicles to go around, so salesmen had to figure out who the serious buyers were. Those determined to buy a car would look past the salesman’s demeanor, and the rest would walk home.


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