Selling cars is not perceived as the most desirable job today’s youth can think of and probably for good reason. Selling cars is associated with low income, cheap suits, rejection, long hours, and nagging customers. Now this may all be true, but here’s the good news – lots of money can be made by selling cars. Yes, lots of money.
Decades ago, similar to other sales jobs, selling cars was a prestigious job that demanded salesmen to know about cars, about their customers, and about their competition. Although this is still true today, the difference is that the prestige is gone – as it is with most sales jobs. It’s unfortunate, because selling cars can be a very exciting job for those just entering the job market. And with moderate success, a newbie can earn a good pay, learn about sales, and develop key selling skills they can apply in the future.
Now if a newbie had some basic selling skills and a willingness to sell, then they can earn more than a living. With some basic skills and willingness to apply proven sales methods, car sales people move cars off the lot. If that’s not believable, maybe this will help shed some light – Detroit native Joe Girard made a name for himself selling cars in the 60s.
As a kid, he sold subscriptions to the Detroit Free Press door-to-door. Joe quickly learned it was a numbers game, so he spent little time fooling around and more time running from door-to-door ringing as many bells he could. After graduation, he applied the same strategy when selling cars. In 15 years, Joe sold more than 13,000 Chevrolets at a local dealership. That’s approximately 800 cars a year, about 2-3 cars a day. His record days had him selling about 18 cars in a single day.
Today, each sold car pays about $500-$1000 depending on the price, model, dealership, and incentive or bonus plan. Whatever the plan, dealerships make it worth it to sell, and in all cases they reward the best sales person. So how does someone become the best car sales person? It’s not easy, it really isn’t. But here are five ways to get started.
5 #5: Evaluate Your Selling Skills
Being honest about your own skills is important. A sales person might not have the “sales shtick” but that’s OK. First they need to be honest, then they need to work hard. It might take a little while to get their shtick, but just remember that salesy talk is not even half the battle. Having the gift of the gab only gets someone so far. There are many other dimensions to sales that talking can’t support such as sales planning, prospecting, following up, gaining commitment, closing, and servicing customers.
Having the gift of persuasion is helpful, but it’s still newbie material. It’s not helpful to be a good talker when no one is walking through the front door. That’s why sales organizations have such high turnover – the gift of the gab only gets sales people so far before they realize their pipelines are dry and they actually have to work to win new business. Eventually, these sales people with their poor work ethic move onto other companies hoping their gab can help them win some business.
4 #4: Pick Up The Phone
Have you ever walked into a dealership to find only one sales person? Likely not. The reason is that when sales people are hired, they are hired with the intention of bringing customers in, not just serving the walk-ins. So when a new prospect walks through the door, about a dozen sales people get off their seat to greet them.
Rather than wait for the walk-in, pick up the phone and make 100 calls a day. If it doesn’t sound reasonable, then this job is not for you. Call, track, and measure is about the best advice any sales person can get. To do this relentlessly is a critical success factor for sales people. The best sales people do this so well and for so long that their network of prospects is large enough and deep enough to carry them for quite some time.
3 #3: Repeat What Works
Anytime someone experience success, even the slightest bit of success, they need to repeat the process. The key to building sales success is practicing and repeating what works. If it doesn’t work, then fair enough, they should give up on it. But if it works, then they need to write it down.
In fact, the best car sales people write everything down cause it’s the only way they will know whether or not what they’re doing actually works. And when it does work, they don’t let up on it. When they arrive at the office, they stick with their routine no matter what it is. They take out their planner, practice their pitch, and pick up the phone. Repetition and practice are fundamental to success.
2 #2: Offer The Best Service (Or Leave)
No one can test drive, negotiate, get their credit approved, finalize the deal, and drive away in the same day. It rarely happens. There’s a process to follow, and car sales people are renowned for disappearing after the initial visit and the first sign of the customer’s’ commitment.
Here’s where it often goes wrong. Car sales people make the sale, then fall off the face of the earth. The problem is that the actual sale of a car is a far longer process than what the car sales person participates in. A car sales person only participates in about 40% of the sale process, and that’s problematic for the customer. The customer agreed to buy the car based on a conversation with a sales person. So when it goes south at the credit application or car delivery, then the customer is left alone, no one’s there to be accountable for any customer misfortunes.
This long process makes buying cars difficult and annoying for customers. Effective car salespeople recognize this. Ineffective car sales people are completely oblivious to this. Call it lack of experience or just a bad habit, the key to being the best in sales is to finish the sale through and through, and that includes from the first day the customer signs to about 4-5 days after the customer drives away with the car. Offering the best service is part of sales, and the best car sales people see their sales through and through.
1 #1: Never Take A Day Off
Slacking off even one day is just poison in car sales. Every day that a car sales person takes a day off, they lose sales opportunities. The number one vice of sales people is the overwhelming need to take a day off after a good week. This thinking is what leads to trouble. Confidence and momentum are built on successes, even micro successes.
So when success is interrupted by distraction, then momentum suffers, and momentum is too critical in selling cars. In a five day work week, car sales people should expect to sell a car every day. They don’t need to be Joe Girard (Joe sold an average of 2-3 cars a day), but they need to believe that there’s no such thing as a good week, there’s just a week, and every week should be there best.