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Retail & Sales careers

Sales: Cars, Vans & Other Automobiles

Why a career in automobile sales?

If you took Swiss Toni’s word for it, you might think that “selling a car is a like making love to a beautiful woman.” Admittedly, this perspective stretches the truth a little bit. However, the bequiffed car salesman from The Fast Show makes a valid point: people who sell cars are passionate about cars, and it’s the same case for people who sell motorbikes, vans and other automobiles too. If you’re fanatical about automobiles, then why not get into automobile sales?

Stereotypically, automobile salesmen are thought of as deceitful men with sinister facial hair, bad suits and jewellery that looks like it’s been stolen from Mr T’s trinket box. If you’ve read Roald Dahl’s book, Matilda, you may think that car salesmen are aggressive, dishonest and spend their time winding back mileage clocks.

Wait though! This grotesque stereotype is far from the truth. Automobile sales professionals are professional, ambitious and dynamic individuals.

Without these guys, nobody would be able to do any of these things:

  • Trade their old banger in for a younger model
  • Buy their child a car and wrap an outrageously large bow around it for their birthday
  • Take their new little roadster (i.e. midlife crisis) out for a spin.

Where do automobile salespeople work?

Automobile salespeople can sell all kinds of road vehicles, from motorbikes and Mercedes, to vans and Vespas. They tend to work for dealerships that either sell used or new automobiles. The showroom and the forecourt is their stomping ground and selling is what they do.

If you get involved with these careers, you might work for a dealership that is affiliated with one car brand, or you might work for one of the new kinds of independent megastores that sell a massive range of different models, and are changing the face of the industry (e.g. Car Giant).

What are the day-to-day tasks of an automobile salesperson?

An automobile salesperson’s job is varied, fast-paced and highly competitive. These guys spend a large part of their day meeting and greeting potential customers, understanding what they want from a new vehicle, and then demonstrating the special features and capabilities of certain models which match their customers’ requirements.

The automobile sales professional’s primary objective is encouraging and persuading their customers to buy one of their vehicles. Often, these guys will take customers on test drives and then negotiate prices with them once they have expressed a keen interest in purchasing the specific automobile.

However, their job is not only about closing deals and getting paperwork signed. After all, they can’t sell vehicles if there are no customers on the forecourt. These guys have to generate interest in the business and take appropriate marketing measures to attract the public. They can’t just rely on putting up a bit of bunting here and there. They might have to do some cold calling or distribute fliers and other advertising materials to get the punters flying into the showroom.

How do I get into automobile sales?

As in every other sales position, people who pursue careers in automobile sales need to be friendly, polite, confident, and have excellent communication skills. Additionally, these people need to know their way around cars, motorbikes or vans. After all, you wouldn’t want to buy a new car off somebody who doesn’t know the difference between automatic and manual transmission, or thinks that the exhaust pipe is called the ‘smoky tube’!

No specific academic qualifications are required for this particular branch of sales. However, an apprenticeship in ‘Vehicle Sales’ might be a great way to turn the key in the ignition and get your career motoring.

If vehicle sales are done right, then employees can make a handsome wage through lucrative commission structures. However, be aware that some careers in automobile sales might only pay on a commission basis (i.e. with no basic salary). This can be particularly risky, especially for people coming in at entry level.

One thing to remember is that many employers are unlikely to employ salespeople until they are 21, as insurance companies do not insure people under that age to do test drives. Consequently, it might be a good idea to get some work experience in a different area of sales first, and then move into automobile sales when you are old enough. Keep on rollin’.