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Tips on How to Be a Successful Car Salesman

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So you want a job selling cars but you are not sure if you have what it takes. Depending on your circumstances, selling cars can be very rewarding or it could turn into one of your life's biggest nightmares.

I will try to make it easy for you by providing some tips from my sixteen years of experience.

The biggest thing to remember is selling cars is not about you. It is about your customer. If you keep in mind what your customer wants and needs and do your best to satisfy them, you will do fine.

Step 1: Meet and Greet

The first thing you will need to do is to meet a customer on the lot. Try and be there when they pull in as this will keep your competitor salespeople off your op (short for opportunity).

Let them get out of the car by acknowledging the customer with a hello. When they have all exited the vehicle, use a nice greeting such as "Good Afternoon! Welcome to Shady Motors my name is Tom and you are?"

Let everyone introduce themselves and shake their hand, thanking them for coming into your store.

The Meet and Greet might sound simple enough, but it is much more complex than you would believe. Within the first thirty seconds of meeting you, your customer will form an opinion of you in their minds.

Everything counts from your smile to your clothes. Everything about you will be scrutinized. If the customer forms an unfavorable opinion of you immediately, all is not lost but you will have to work harder to close a deal.

Step 2: Qualifying

Once everyone has been welcomed to the dealership, it is time to find out what your customer requires to purchase a car.

When you ask a question be prepared to keep quiet and listen to the answer. Many new salespeople think that they have to keep talking to entertain the customer. This is not true. The customer would much rather talk about themselves for the most part rather than listen to you.

Questions to get them talking:

  • "What brought you into our store today?"
  • "Which vehicle did you come to look at?"
  • "Did you see our advertisement?" Finding out if it was an ad that brought them in is very important. The amount of money a dealership spends on advertising is astronomical. Knowing which ads are working is imperative to a dealership so they can focus on advertising that works.

It is also important to know what your dealers ads are, which vehicles are in the ads, as well as the price in the ads. You will need to know how the ad is structured as well, is there cash down or a trade reflected in a price or payment?

This conversation should not last very long but will give you a few minutes to feel your customer out. If there is more than one, try and figure out which one will be the mouthpiece (the one who will most likely answer your questions), but never ignore anyone in the group as you never know what kind of influence each person has over the buyer.

It is also during this conversation that you should try and find out which part of the group is actually looking to buy a vehicle.

If there is only a single person, try and get to know as much as you can about them. Get them talking for once on a roll, a customer will lay out everything for you that you need to close a deal with them.

Step 3: Choosing a Vehicle

The choice of which vehicle to buy is of course the whole point of the customer coming to your dealership.

If the customer is financing and wants to be at two hundred dollars a month, putting them in a thirty thousand dollar car will be a mistake. It will be easy to get a customer to fall in love with a high priced car but when you get inside, you will be disappointed.

If you have your customers drive a car they cannot afford, it will be much harder to get them to like a cheaper car as much as a high-end car.

If the customer does not know what they want to spend or they will not tell you, start showing them the cheapest cars you have until you find something they like.

If they pick out the vehicle, they cannot blame you for the payment being higher then they wanted to pay.

Step 4: Negotiations

You will probably be using the four square system to negotiate the vehicle's price and payment. The four square is a pretty standard system which psychologically makes it easier to make a profit.

Remember, the salesman's job is not to sell cars, it is to make a profit on the cars sold. The four squares are:

  1. Price: This is the last thing you want to discuss as any movement in the price means less profit for your store.
  2. Payment: This is your main negotiating tool. The higher the payment, the more profit margin you can hold.
  3. Trade: This can be a manipulative tool as any lowering of price will automatically raise the value of the trade without actually giving the customer more for their vehicle.
  4. Cash Down: Another manipulative tool as more cash down will naturally lower the payment.

Your best two tools in the four square system is the cash down and the payment. Both of these boxes can be recalculated without lowering price at all.

As a salesman, your job is to get a commitment from the customer at any price. Your need to get the customer to take mental ownership by telling you,"If the price is right I will buy the car today."

Once you receive a commitment, either you or a manager will come in and close the deal. When you first start out, a manager called a T.O. will come in. His job is to bump the customer. The bump is getting more money from the customer.

Additional Tips

  • Try to ask questions which elicit a positive response. Some examples: Do you like the car? Could you see yourself driving this car? Would you buy the car today? Nod your head yes as you ask these questions.
  • Make eye contact when talking to your customer. Do not stare but make sure that eye contact is made.
  • Mirror your customers actions. If they cross their arms you cross your arms. If they rub their chin you rub your chin. This will get you psychologically closer to your customer.
  • When you are at the desk, do not discuss any numbers if the customer is sitting there with their arms crossed. This is a defensive posture and is not conducive to closing deals.
  • Talk about anything other then the car until the arms become natural. Then go in for the close.

Questions for Me?

If I can answer any questions about selling or buying used cars or trucks feel free to send me a message.

I would be happy to help with any aspect of car sales. Good luck and good selling!

More by this Author


Comments 46 comments

dlw12@yahoo.com 2 weeks ago

I work as BDC and a delivery specialist. My BDC is not well put together so it is very hard for me to even GET people in.. I've been thinking about working in Sales for awhile now.. I am 20, I am a female and I really want to take the next step as working in sales but very indecisive because I don't know if it will work out for me. I love people, I love talking to people and I do love selling but I feel like when it comes to cars I'm not so sure if ill do good. SO basically my negotiations skills is not good whatsoever. Any tips? dlw12@yahoo.com

My email for a response!


Peruzzi 3 weeks ago

I'm very interested what u said but I have a question, Also in the luxury and sports cars like Maserati Ferrari Bentley Bugatti can i use the same steps? thank u


Theze nutz 4 weeks ago

DAMMMMMMNNN DANIEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Brian 8 weeks ago

Good day. Im new in car sales and am working tirelessly trying to drum up ops. How do I break the cycle of the house mouse getting all the ops? She has no special talent or skill set, just giving all the ops, 3-4 to 1. Not a complainer, but getting old watching this. I get there an hour before anyone, only one to walk the lot every morning, only one doing online training daily, one of the few using dirty 30 sheets, but yet getting only a handful of ops in first 2 weeks. Should I confront management or continue the way I am to show my work ethic? Thanks


Liz Beetge 8 weeks ago

Hi there,

Ive red yiur article above and found it really interesting.I went for an interview and was told

Id be a good vehicle car saleslady.Having steered away from sales ive now found myself back in sales.But on a product ive never sold before.Cars and vehicles.

My question to you: How to convince the interviewer I am going to be good at what I do.I am really keen to try as the remuneration package is good and I know ill get total job satisfaction .I also want to be the best at what I do.

Lots of advice please. To cottonfieldsjhb@gmail.com.

Regards

Liz Beetge


mac 2 months ago

I just started at a Honda dealership that is kinda slower then the other dealerships in town. How can I get my name out quickly and advertise better? macgarhart@yahoo.com


Michael 2 months ago

Just started at a local Toyota dealership (I'll be one week in on Thursday). What can I do to start building a client base and get my name out there besides Facebook. Seeing that I just started my business cards will not be in for a few weeks. Besides writing my name and cell phone number on the back of my sales managers cards and using Facebook, could you please help advise me with additional ways to build a client base?

Thank you for your help

My Personal email is michaelscott.toyota@gmail.com


George holloway 2 months ago

Hi there,

I am a 19 years of age and have been offered a trial shift in a car dealership, I have been in sales for the last year and a half within telecommunications, selling phones. The obvious outlier is the fact that selling cars is completely different. I'd like to think I have a good sales technique and a natural thirst for it, however when it comes to car sales I'm a little jubious as I feel my young age might reflect in a different manner? To elaborate I mean simply that the older generation may feel they wouldn't want to buy a car off me because I'm young. Anything you could suggest or advise me? However I am a strong believer in if you can sell in the correct way with formality and confidence, age should not be a factor. Please let me know what you think, email is as follows:

georgehmodel@gmail.com

Kind regards,

George


Daniel 2 months ago

I just started selling cars retail, prior to that I sold cars wholesale. What can I do to start building a client base and get my name out there besides Facebook. Seeing that I just started my business cards will not be in for a few weeks. Besides writing my name and cell phone number on the back of my sales managers cards and using Facebook, could you please help advise me with additional ways to build a client base?

Thank you for your help

My Personal email is drbelmonte1004@gmail.com


Robert 3 months ago

Hello, I've been doing sales for about 2.5 months. I transitioned from the Internet Sales (BDC). The biggest thing I have issues with are objections from the customer. We utilize the closer system. Once I get a commitment I'm good. But those couple of times I encounter a tough customer who have objection after objection, I have difficulty. Any tips? Robert.westerman@yahoo.com


Eddie 3 months ago

Hello , I started for a dealership about a month ago . I believe I will succeed at this and become good at it . One problem is I'm having is some of the customers I can't get in the building ? As its a requirement here. If I feel they will walk I'm to get a manager . By the time I get a manager an go through the hassle of them if they come out the customer may have left or has little interest at this point. At that point I'm being reminded I will be fired f customers walk off the lot without talking to a manager ? Suggestions ?


Charles 3 months ago

Hello, love the advice and everything but I work at a dealership where we have very little walk ins. I have a small list of contacts and they were all called. What can I do to get some footsteps through the door or have customers come in and see me?


Ivan 4 months ago

What can I do when there's little to no walk ins. I'm new to the business and I have few contacts and called all that I can call


Devin Bowman 6 months ago

Hi i just started a job at a car dealership. I've got no experience whatsoever and i really need this job. kindly email me tips on how to understand cars better and how to negotiate salary with my boss. PLS HELP!!

Bowman37@uga.edu


Margret Kalekye 6 months ago

Hi i just started a job at a car dealership. I've got no experience whatsoever and i really need this job.kindly email me tips on how to understand cars better and how to negotiate salary with my boss kalekye7713@gmail.com


Sarah 6 months ago

I just started three days ago and I am not too sure about any vehicles whatsoever. In order to work in the sales business you have to know your product. Is there any easy way you could explain to me about learning about vehicles?


Sue 7 months ago

Hi, my name is Sue & I'm thinking about transition into car sales. I've been selling vacation ownership sales for 3 years and it's getting a bit much for me and want a fresh start at doing something else. I enjoy sales and the flexibility that comes with it. So I was thinking why not car sales? I am a woman & I have heard some unsettling stories so I was wondering what kind of advice you could offer up? I don't really know what I'll be getting myself into. If you could please email me suhtetnadi@gmail.com


LB 8 months ago

I'm new to car sales i was just hired at a BMW dealership and I'm diving in. I want to be the best salesmen i could possibly be, but this is my first time in car sales, and I'm a bit worried that I'm too honest.


taylor bradshaw 10 months ago

I just became employed as a car sales lady for AutoNation. I have no experience selling cars; therefor, I do not have a name for myself in the business. I am in the process of having my own business cards made. I also posts things on social media to let my friends know I am there for them and I make sure to inform anyone I meet. I would love to make personal business calls but not sure which random people to call. I am trying to think of other creative ways to bring in my own personal prospects. if you have any helpful advice at all I would appreciate it very much.

thank you


Leonard 11 months ago

So ive been considering becoming a car salesman and i dont know exactly what im getting myself in to. If you could email me, i have a few questions lmorrison446@yahoo.com thank you


Marcos 12 months ago

What is the defiance between a Bespoke and Entune? And what do they have in common?

I'm a new car salesman, and the people I work with can not answer some of the questions I have, I'm hoping you can, Thank you!


Jay 14 months ago

I'm new I car sales and my dealership has a great program for Internet leads. Could you provide information on how to get these prospects out from hiding behind their computer to calling me or setting appointment to come to the lot?

Thank you


Rob 14 months ago

I'm finishing my 2nd week at my 1st job on a car lot right now. I've learned that you can't be someone that gets discouraged easily, people will lie and they don't really like you. Other salespeople especially as a "Green" Don't like you. This is a job you have to be motivated and driven to succeed in. I welcome the challenge.


Nathan 18 months ago

When you apply at a dealership,do they provide the training for the job?

My email is nathaneidenschink@gmail.com


Sam 24 months ago

Hi my name is Sam my ? Is what's the hardest thing about car sales I'm not talking about customer service please e-mail me husseycheaib@hotmail.com


Derek 2 years ago

hi,i have zero kowledge on cars,Can i sell them and how?thanks derekdeva@yahoo.com


jimmyp 2 years ago

I have had a career in the golf industry for over 30 years (i'm 60 yrs old) but feel the need for a career change. I have been offered a sales job with a large local and well respected dealership. I'm fascinated about car sales and the lucrative potential. I have researched and read almost everything. Any tips/suggestions for my newest journey?...Thanks

jprusia@yahoo.com


dave 2 years ago

I'm new to the sales business. I don't have a problem talking to people, but don't know how to get my name out there or marketing myself and my dealership. I moved closer to Phoenix, AZ and work for Chrysler Jeep. I've made flyers and posted them on vehicles and only got one call. What can I do to start gaining a client base and get my name and dealership out to draw more business? Any catchy emails or ways for a flyer would be greatly appreciated.

crazyiron53@hotmail.com

Thank you.


Skarlet profile image

Skarlet 2 years ago from California

Great article. I am reading that the hours are long but I thought that many car sales people were part time. Is this not true?


Adam 2 years ago

Hi I have never sold cars before and got a job at a car dealership selling used cars. They taught me a lot but I don't know anything about cars and trucks. How do I lean more about them and what is in our inventory


Jasmine 2 years ago

@alpha girl and Susan I have been in the industry for about a year now and I know from my experience that dealerships are kind to women and actually look forward to hiring women.

I was on this site and read previous posts on National Auto Academy I took the course with National Auto Academy in NY with a trainer Chi Li and but since was working in OH I had to make the choice of moving to OH. I like the academy because they helped me find a job once I moved and it helps being part of the alumni services. Now, I would suggest this if you are trying to get into the industry but if you are still questioning the industry know that the hours are long but the earning potential is great ie the more cars you sell the more money you make. you write your own paycheck. I love the industry because I was in jobs where my effort put in did not result in a bigger paycheck... Good Luck with your decision


MISekabooks profile image

MISekabooks 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

It's rather simple....you just need to have a professional attitude, enthusiasm, and good product knowledge. In my book "Becoming an Automotive Sales Professional" I try to teach this with all it's nuances of working in the career of a professional sales advisor.


Susan 2 years ago

Hi I recently dropped off a resume at a Toyota dealership, for a position of sales Associate, do you think they would consider hiring a women?


Arthur Fontes profile image

Arthur Fontes 3 years ago from Fall River,MA Author

LeeAnn, if the store uses the four square system.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-sales/How-To-Use-The-F...

Learn it well, if you can build a rapport with customers, with the system you will be fine.


LeeAnn 3 years ago

Hi, I was just offered a job at a dealership and I start in a few days. I am so nervous and have no clue what I am doing. I have almost 10 years in customer service but as for sales I do not have any experience. I believe the main reason I got the job is because of my personality and the fact that I can start a conversation with anyone. Is there anything you would suggest to me being new to this? can you email me some information? leeann_abshire@yahoo.com


Arthur Fontes profile image

Arthur Fontes 3 years ago from Fall River,MA Author

Tim, great comment. you are 100% correct. If you concentrate on what the customer really needs in a vehicle, and you supply them with a lot of the things they want, but do not necessarily need, they will perceive value and will follow through with a purchase.


Tim 3 years ago

well im 23 and have been selling cars for the past 3 years and proud to say ive been very successful making over a 100k each year. I love this business and still learn something new every day. Just thought id share a tip or two for anyone just starting out. The key to my success is pretty simple 1. Be aggressive take every up possible your income reflects it. 2. Never stop learning no matter how good you think you are or how well your doing theres always room for improvement. 3. Most importantly selling a car requires a couple critical steps most importantly BE YOURSELF, SELL YOURSELF, MAKE A FRIEND,DO A GREAT WALK AROUND and remember they buy the car because they feel you did a good job demonstrating the features and benefits of the car and BECAUSE THEY LIKE,TRUST,AND RESPECT YOU!!!!! plain and simple if they like you and the car they will pay more than they were planning on and closing them on payments become a lot easier. don't forget about your first day remind yourself of it everyday remember how nervous you were going for your interview well that's how the customer feels coming into a dealership and being swooped on as if they are prey, your job is to try to break through that guard and make them feel comfortable with you. and although you may have sold 300 cars this year don't forget its a big deal to them whether its a 1999 honda civic or 2013 KIA optima(and yes i work for KIA lol) don't treat it as just another sale, sell it as if you were going to look at your dream car and you'll be very successful.


alphagirl profile image

alphagirl 4 years ago from USA

Your tips are very helpful. What would you suggest to a woman applying who wants to tell cars?


Kristin 4 years ago

Fantastic. Thanks for the info!


steve827 4 years ago

I've been selling cars now for a little over three years. I honestly believe I owe it all to National Auto Academy. I took a class with them when I first started and it is still helping me to this day. Unfortunately most managers don't have much time to teach you, so I see most of the new guys just being thrown on the floor with barely any training. A bunch of us went through the academy and we're still making money years later. Just a thought, but you might want to look them up and take a class. This is a tough business to learn on your own.


Kristin 4 years ago

I am about to start training for car sales. I am currently their internet sales assistant and feel I'm ready to take the plunge. I'll be on the floor rather than in internet so one of my big concerns is creating a client base. I dont want to be one of the guys that stares out the window waiting for an up. What are some ways to be pro-active about networking and finding leads without stepping on the internet dept's toes? Also it may be helpful to know that my brand (subaru) is somewhat of a targeted market...at least here in the Southeast US. kristinhuston@ymail.com


Britt 4 years ago

Hi my name is britt I start my new job tomorrow on a car lot and I am very nerves.... Should I be? It's my first time ever..... Can you help me out.. You can email me at bandjbatchelor23@gmail.com


Arthur Fontes profile image

Arthur Fontes 5 years ago from Fall River,MA Author

I raised three children through selling cars. I truly enjoy the used car business. I currently manage two stores. It is an exciting and rewarding career for those that take it serious.


jencooper profile image

jencooper 5 years ago

You have a lot of good content in this hub, very informative. I am wondering if you like selling cars? Have you had a lot of success? Is it worth the hours? Can you support a family with this job?


Jake 5 years ago

I'm in the car selling business and just trying to know the features and how to do a walk around.....having trouble in general


Vincent Huiskamp 6 years ago

Hi i am very happy to read what you have to say about car salesmen i just had my first day at a car lot (KIA)

i am from the netherlands and live in america for 2 years now and don't know very many people i don't know how to

get my name out there and make potential prospects i feel scared that i won't make it what can i do i did my best and learned almost the whole inventory on the lot and it's highlights can you please send me more info becausse i feel uncomfortable not knowing that much no experience thank you very much my personal email is

vincenthuis@hotmail.com

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