It’s no secret that the future of car selling is shifting gears. Today’s car shopper is spending more time researching everything from inventory, to prices, to True Market Value online. According to COX Automotive car buyers spend an average of 14 hours online before actually making a purchase.
This access to information, coupled with the negative perceptions people have of car salesmen, means that today’s car salesperson must do more than just sell cars, they must be able to sell themselves and change the image of the car salesperson into something positive for the customer.
In this article, we discuss the following topics meant to help those looking to become a good car salesperson and managers looking to train good car salespeople.
How much do car salespeople make?
According to Car Sales Professional, a good car salesman or saleswoman can make anywhere from $90K to $250K a year. However, how much a good car salesperson makes depends on several factors, including the dealership’s compensation or commission structure and the salesperson’s ability to make a positive impression on the customer.
How to be a good car salesperson: Tips to try
Below are 11 tips on how to be a good car salesperson that will get you to that coveted six-figure earning potential:
- Learn your customers’ names and remember them
- Know what your customer wants and show them
- Show customers you know more than Google
- Treat every customer equally
- Don’t disparage other dealerships
- Mention price last
- Use your downtime wisely
- Be patient
- Keep an eye out for tire kickers
- Follow up with customers after the sale
- Drive online marketing initiatives
1. Learn your customers’ names and remember them
In the business of selling cars, a name means a lot (and we’re not just talking about car brand names here). If you want to be a good car salesperson it’s important that you start learning the names of future and current customers and remember them.
In this day and age, communication with a personal touch has dwindled. Emails, text messages and other marketing have lost their authenticity. In fact, according to Segment, 71% of customers feel frustrated when their shopping experience isn’t personalized. By using a customer’s name in communications, and tailoring content that pertains to their interests, you can make yourself stand out as a good car salesperson and establish trust by making customers feel like they’re not just another email address or phone number.
A good car salesperson will learn a customer’s name as soon as they get an online lead, send them an introductory video email and use the customer’s name in the message—much like they would if they were talking casually to one of their friends. The mission here is to make the customer feel like they matter, establish trust, get them to come into the dealership and, ultimately, buy a car.
2. Know what your customer wants and show them
One of the keys to be a good car salesperson means figuring out what your customers want and delivering on their expectations. This requires that you ask the right questions and listen twice as much as you talk.
As mentioned earlier, most customers spend an average of 13-15 hours researching online, so it’s safe to say that most of them already have a specific car in mind by the time they come to a dealership or online car salesperson. However, if you ask them the right questions like, “What sort of features or feelings do you want from your automobile?” you can pitch them similar options and open up a wider selection of cars to choose from that they probably haven’t even considered.
A good car salesperson can show the customer their dream car and other similar options before they even step foot in the dealership by sending them walk-around videos. The idea of this video is to get them into the dealership with an open mind and driving off the lot with a new car.
Combine this knowledge with their name, so if they don’t buy from you the first time they come to the dealership when they come the second time you can start the conversation off where you left it.
3. Show customers you know more than Google
Once you’ve introduced yourself to a potential customer over email or shared your email with them in a face-to-face meeting, you could well receive a flood of questions into your inbox. As mentioned before, because customers have access to the same information you do on the internet and have also probably engaged in a few conversations with other dealerships or car salesmen, it will be up to you to give them something Google cannot: a full picture of the car buying process.
By using sales and marketing technology, like automotive videos in your emails, you’ll stand out from the competition by giving potential customers the full picture and provide answers to their questions on a personal level.
Avoid contradicting your customers. Instead, navigate them toward the truth through empathetic communication that can only be conveyed in person or through video, not texts or email. Remember, you are here to give them the personal touch that Google and the internet can’t.
4. Treat every customer equally (but keep an eye out for tire kickers)
A rule of thumb for any good car salesperson is to never judge a book by its cover. This may seem insignificant, but it can mean the difference between success and failure.
When potential clients come to the dealership with their partner, never assume that one makes more money and will, therefore, be investing more than the other or one has more clout in the decision-making process. When conversing with them, it’s important to make sure you’re making them both feel like a valued part of the purchasing process by making eye contact, asking them the same questions, and showing the same amount of attention.
In addition, don’t assume that someone who comes into the dealership wearing a suit will be willing to invest more than someone who comes in wearing a pair of cut-off jeans. You may discover, the customer with the cut-offs is willing to invest more in their ride than their wardrobe.
5. Don’t disparage other dealers
When a potential customer comes into the dealership and tells you about “Competitor X,” resist the urge to trash-talk your competition. Instead, focus on what makes your dealership different.
For instance, if a potential customer comes in and says, “Dealership X has terrible customer service,” instead of agreeing, you could say, “I’m sorry you’ve had that experience, you’ll be glad to hear that our dealership has been ranked the top dealership in town for over a decade and has a 5-star rating by the BBB.”
6. Mention Price Last
A good car salesperson knows when to ask for the sale and start discussing price.
When you know the buyer is in love with a car and ready to buy, that’s the time a good car salesperson asks, “Are you ready to buy this car today?” and if the reply is “Yes” then you can start discussing cash down, payment, trade-in values, and more.
At this point, it’s a good idea to get your sales manager in on the conversation to help negotiate price, maximize the dollars for you and the dealership, and to give your buyer a deal they feel is fair.
7. Use your downtime wisely
There’s no question that there will be slow days or weeks at your dealership. Instead of sitting around twiddling your thumbs, a good salesperson knows it’s important to use your downtime wisely to become better at selling.
For instance, on slow days, you could read up on new car models, follow up with your prospects, or read blog articles (like this one and more that you’ll find on the Pipedrive website) that fine-tune your selling skills.
8. Be Patient
You’ve probably heard that patience is a virtue. This holds particularly true in the art of being a good car salesperson. Although people want to buy, they don’t want to be sold to, so it’s important that you don’t come off as desperate or pushy.
As you give them time to think and decide, you can send them a video thanking them for touring your dealership and how much you’ve enjoyed working with them.
Keep cultivating relationships, be patient, and you’ll see the efforts of being a good car salesperson begin to pay off.
9. Keep an eye out for tire kickers
Every salesperson encounters tire kickers, but it’s the ones car salespeople have to deal with that give this particular brand of customer their name.
Although you need to be patient with all your customers, especially those who don’t like making financial decisions, you should keep an eye out for any that are potentially taking you away from deals that are more likely to close.
Here are some characteristics common to tire kickers:
- They don’t fit your ideal customer profile
- They’ve done no research into the sales solution they need
- They can’t afford what you’re selling
It’s important not to make snap judgments and to treat all customers equally, but if someone comes into the dealership every day for a week and test drives half the saloon cars on your lot without making a decision, try to find a way to spend less time with them and more with other, more decisive customers.
10. Follow up with customers after the sale
When your customer drives off the lot with their new car, that shouldn’t be the end of your relationship with them. Any good car salesperson will tell you that the key to being successful is keeping that customer for a lifetime either by getting them to come back or garnering referrals.
After the sale, it’s important to check in and see how they’re liking their new car, encourage them to leave a review or send referrals and thank them for their business. Again, this is best done through personalized communication, like a video, where you can show sincerity. Small gestures, like these, leave a lasting impression and will keep you at the top of their minds when referring others or when they decide to buy another car in the future.
11. Drive online marketing initiatives
To be a good car salesperson today, online marketing is essential. Online marketing requires clear, consistent messaging to get people into the door and the best way to do this is through video across your online marketing platforms. Things you can highlight in your video include:
- Your team and culture
- Walkarounds of new cars on the lot
- Giveaways and service center specials
- Vehicle maintenance tips
In short, be an automotive expert that your existing and future customers can trust.
Here’s an example of a car walk around video created by a dealership:
How to be a good used car salesperson
In the minds of many consumers, the only thing worse than a car salesperson is a used car salesperson. They are stereotypically known for being sellers who are more concerned with pressuring you into buying a car than finding out your needs or wants.
In addition to the tips provided above, the following are tips on how to be a good used car salesperson that customers will appreciate:
- Avoid the hard sell
- Don’t talk about payment until you’ve talked about price
- Avoid answering questions with misleading information
- Be upfront about fees
1. Avoid the hard sell
Typically, the hard sell starts with the used car salesperson asking a question like, “What do I have to do to get you into that car today?” and ends with a defensive answer “I’m just looking,” from the customer.
The reality is the customer is probably interested in buying. They just don’t want the used car salesperson to know for fear of having to deal with the hard sell.
One way to avoid this tension and eventual haggling is to be upfront with the price. This way, the potential buyer knows the price of the car right off the bat and they can simply choose to buy the car for that price or walk away.
The price many car salespeople have stuck to the front of the windshield is a ballpark figure, or possibly the highest price they could expect. Make it clear that the buyer has wiggle room to haggle so they feel like they’re walking away with a good deal.
Be more honest about how low you’re willing to go instead of posting a price that’s the highest possible.
2. Don’t talk about payment until you’ve talked about price
The biggest mistake a used car salesperson can make is to ask what kind of payment a customer is looking for before even discussing price.
A good used car salesman should never begin talking about payment. They should, however, be considerate in addressing the customer’s budget and financing concerns.
3. Avoid answering questions with misleading information
Another way to be a good used car salesperson is to avoid answering questions with misleading information.
For instance, say that a customer notices that a door on a car is a little off-center and has some chipped paint. They ask the used car salesperson about it and his/her response is it’s “no big deal” and it can easily be “touched up.” In actuality, the car was in an accident and the used car salesperson doesn’t look further into it and doesn’t apologize for not mentioning it in the first place.
This is a prime example of how a used car salesperson could betray trust by giving the customer the wrong answer and perpetuate the negative stereotype commonly held by customers.
4. Be upfront about fees
It’s no secret that there are fees associated with purchasing a car. There’s the processing fee, the tax and registration fee, the licensing fee, and so on and so forth. However, the dealership isn’t going to advertise all the extra costs. This is where a good used car salesperson steps in and lets their client know about fees before they sit down and get ready to pay for the car.
The fees aren’t the problem—every service has a price—the problem is keeping it under wraps until the very end and blind-siding the customer.
Car salesperson training tips for managers and business owners
When hiring a car salesperson it’s important to keep in mind that their function in your company is very similar to what many organizations call a “Customer Success Manager (CSM)”. Like a CSM, one of the main jobs of a car salesperson is to mentor and foster long-term relationships with clients. Therefore, it’s important that their training provides them with the ability to successfully achieve this.
Here are some car salesperson training tips for managers and business owners:
- Provide them with the necessary product knowledge
- Have them learn how your dealership operates
- Familiarize them with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- Evaluate the “I’ll be back”
1. Provide them with necessary product knowledge
The number one training tip for anyone hiring new car salespeople is to make sure you’re providing them with the necessary product knowledge and sales collateral. This could be in the form of pamphlets, brochures, videos, podcasts, websites and presentations.
It’s important to make sure your new car salesperson knows everything they need to know to be an expert on your products. Thanks to the Internet, your potential customer is very knowledgeable, and your salespeople need to establish themselves as experts and receive rapport with customers by proving they know everything they do and more.
2. Teach them how your dealership operates
When training a new car salesperson, it’s important to familiarize them with how your dealership operates. They can learn a lot by just observing the day-to-day operations at your dealership.
Have them watch and listen to what’s going on around them throughout the day. Make sure they pay special attention to your top salespeople and how they operate, watching the body language between salespeople and customers to learn how to replicate it and be a successful car salesperson.
3. Familiarize them with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
When it comes to training a new car salesperson, training them on your CRM or Customer Relationship Management software is a must. This invaluable tool helps them schedule appointments, communicate with potential buyers and maintain relationships with existing customers.
If your CRM program has an app, you should have new hires load the app to their cell phones so they can stay in touch when they’re not in the office. They can also use the app to learn and keep track of inventory.
When a car salesperson is properly trained on your CRM software, they reduce clerical work and can focus on leads and selling.
4. Evaluate the “I’ll be back”
When training a new car salesperson, it’s important to have them learn from their experiences.
One of the experiences they will most likely have, just starting out, is when customers tell them they will “be back.” Although some do come back, most of the time won’t be back and are just saying that so they can leave without buying.
It’s important that you use this experience as a training tool for your new car salesperson. Have them recall the time they spent with the customer and what they said or did that made them leave before they sold them a car. Then ask them what they could have done differently and offer some feedback of your own.
Now that you have all the tips and techniques you need to become a good car salesperson, it’s time to freshen up that resume and cover letter and get out there! If you’re needing help with creating a resume and cover letter that will get your foot in the door, we recommend the following Pipedrive articles:
- Sales Skills Resumes: A Guide for Jobseekers and Sales Hiring Managers with Examples
- Sales Cover Letter Writing Templates & Tips to Help You Stand Out from the Crowd.
One final important tip that every rookie car salesperson should note is to not give up too soon. We recommend giving it a minimum of 90 days before you decide if selling cars for a living is for you. Like every new job, it takes time to learn and adjust so give it some time. However, if you decide to hang in there and commit to being a successful car salesperson, the financial rewards will be well worth it.