How to start a career in car sales

There are many different varieties of car salesman training being taught today. Some are better than others and some are practically nonexistent. I will try to explain the different types of auto sales disciplines that are needed to become a successful car salesman or saleswoman along with the groundwork that anyone can pursue to have a prosperous automobile sales career.

Basic Car Sales Training

How to start a career in car salesIn some dealerships the car salesman education required to start selling cars is not much more than an orientation or indoctrination of the auto sales training steps or the steps to the sale. Many times this is done by a sales manager and it is often seriously lacking when it comes to building the solid foundation required to become a successful salesperson. The turnover of the sales staff at these dealers is usually high and the success rate along with the profitability of these types of dealers is at best dismal. The pay plan for sales people is often poor and it does little or nothing to motivate the staff. This type of place is not where you want to start your car sales career if you can help it unless you don’t care about succeeding.

However in most new car dealerships today car sales training is taken more seriously. They may have a member of the sales management team do the training, but it consists of two or more full days and it includes word-tracks, scripts, drills and it provides a true car salesman sales education. It usually includes a printed or copied car sales manual or handbook and the basic skills required to get started. Then the Green Pea is let loose on the lot to start selling cars in order for them to get a taste of the territory that is the business of selling cars for a living. They will be monitored and coached by a sales manager or a senior member of the staff until they learn the basics and from there they are usually on their own other than some occasional advice, guidance or a car salesman tip.

Some of the larger and more successful dealers and dealer groups have a car sales training manager on staff and some actually use an outside firm that comes in and trains their Newbies. Both scenarios are usually very good at readying any new additions to their sales staff and often supply and ongoing education to sales staff. This is a good place to begin your car sales profession along with the description on the one above.

Product Knowledge and Automotive Sales Training

Most of the auto makers’ offer some sort of training to a dealership’s sales team, but it usually involves product knowledge. This type of training is valuable and important because product knowledge can make the difference between making and losing a sale. Knowing the benefits of your product over your competitor is priceless when it comes to closing a deal. This type of education is great, but these manufacturer hosted events are usually only done when a new model or restyle is launched. Some dealerships will regularly train and host product knowledge classes in house because they understand that knowledgeable sales people will make more deals. To sell more cars and further your earning ability you would be wise to take the initiative and educate yourself on the product your represent. This website is loaded with free auto sales training articles and posts that you can use to further your training.

Advanced Car Sales Training

Few dealers offer anything more than the type of car salesman training that I have described above. With any profession ongoing education is always an asset and the same goes for selling cars. Even the seasoned veteran can benefit from more and regular training. There are many areas of the car sales profession that you will learn over time such as prospecting, referrals, follow up, using the telephone and closing the sales, but are you willing to wait to learn how to make more commissions and sell more cars? If not then you usually have take it upon yourself to further your auto sales training. You can check out our car salesman training manual on the right for more information.

Optimum Car Salesman Training for Selling Cars

In the car business auto sales training is like pay plans because every dealer handles this responsibility differently. Whatever the type of sales foundation or indoctrination you have received is better than nothing although there are plenty of sales people that have started in this business with relatively no seasoning other than being told to go out on the lot and get a customer. In order to cultivate a true car sales professional the schooling should be ongoing and never stop.

How to start a career in car salesThe constant seasoning that comes with experience and formal sales training provided by automobile manufacturers and professional trainers is ideal. I was fortunate enough to sit in on Ford salesman training, Honda, Toyota, Chrysler and GM. These classes often consisted of car salesman training videos and Power Point slides and focused on the product more than the process. In addition to these methods the salesman or saleswoman should also supplement the training they receive on their own by role playing, reading, studying the competition and observing. The time, energy or monies spent on additional training is merely an investment that pays for itself many times over throughout the course of a car sales career. There is big money to be made in the business of car sales and those that are prepared will reap the rewards that the industry has to offer.

One of the reasons for this car sales website is to help the many thousands of sales people out there that are looking to improve their sales skills. The automobile sales training manuals and books offered below are designed to help the ambitious person that doesn’t want to sit still and wait to get more experience and earn more money. I put this collection together based on the questions and request by the many readers that regularly visit this site. Take a look and decide if you want to further your car salesman training and the ability to earn a larger car salesman salary selling cars or wait until it happens on its own.

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How to start a career in car sales


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Car sales consultants work for dealerships and use their skills of persuasion to sell new or used cars. The job is a good fit for open, personable people who have a gift for building rapport with customers – you must be able to make customers feel comfortable about making one of the biggest purchases of their lives. Most car sales consultants earn a modest base salary, plus a generous commission. So the more cars you sell, the more money you make.

Job Description

The main job of a car sales consultant is showing cars to customers who visit the dealership and negotiating the sale. You’ll need a good understanding of the various car models, as well as options for financing and warranties. You’ll also need persuasive selling skills and a head for negotiating car prices and trade-ins with customers. Once a car is sold, you’ll walk the customer through the paperwork and coordinate repairs and servicing through other departments in the dealership. You’re the face of the company, and your success depends on your ability to educate a customer about the options available and make her feel at ease.

Education Requirements

You’ll need a high school diploma or minimum GED for this position. Some employers prefer candidates with an associate’s degree in business or credentials in automobile repair. The best qualification is a willingness to work hard and learn, however, since most of the training happens on the job. As a new trainee, you can expect to pair up with an experienced salesperson for a few weeks or months until you have learned the trade.

Salary Information

What can you expect in return? The median car dealership salary is $39,903 annually in 2018 on a pay scale that ranges from $23,574 to $95,627. Median means that half of automotive sales consultants earned more than this amount and half earned less. This salary is significantly higher than the median for all retail positions, which was $22,900 per year in 2016.


Car sales consultants are attached to car dealerships, and their primary duty is to make money for their employer. They spend most of their time showing cars to customers on the car lot, in the office finalizing the paperwork or out on test drives. The working hours are fairly regular, although you generally will be expected to work weekends and holidays since these are among the dealership’s busiest times. Expect to be on your feet for long hours and constantly on the move.

Years of Experience

The amount of money a car sales consultant makes does not go up with time and experience, at least not directly. That’s because consultants are paid mostly by commission, which represents around two-thirds of their take home pay. So, the more cars a consultant sells for his dealership, the more money he will make. The amount of commission varies by dealership but the traditional structure is 20 to 25 percent of the profit amount. For example, if a car sells for $25,000, and the dealership makes $1,000 profit, the sales consultant will make $250 based on a 25 percent commission rate.

Job Growth Trend

Jobs for all retail sales workers, including car sales consultants, is expected to grow by 2 percent by 2026. This represents the addition of 92,400 new jobs. This figure is significantly lower than the average growth rate for all occupations. The outlook may be better for car sales consultants than for general retail staff, however, because car sales are not affected by the boom in online sales that is causing other retail sectors to shrink. People still buy cars face-to-face, and this is not expected to change any time soon.

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

How to start a career in car sales

After creating her fashion jewelry line KiraKira in 2006, Suzanne Somersall Allis knew her year of design school and dual degree in English and art history hadn’t prepared her to run her own business. What she needed was real-world sales experience. So Allis created her own sales apprenticeship, juggling three part-time retail jobs for a year.

“Working at the stores helped me understand how much money people were willing to spend,” says Allis, 28. “I started to learn the psychology of people who buy my product.”

Today, KiraKira is sold in 15 stores around the country, and last month, Allis opened her first storefront at the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, N.Y. With the recent addition of a luxury line called Suz Somersall, her sales rose to $400,000 this year from $150,000 in 2010.

For entrepreneurs like Allis, learning the ins and outs of selling is a major, but manageable, challenge. To start boosting your sales skills, consider these 10 tips:

Find your comfort level. Getting comfortable with selling is a key first step for any entrepreneur, says Matthew Schwartz, author of Fundamentals of Sales Management for the Newly Appointed Sales Manager (AMACOM, 2006). To gain the inside knowledge and confidence you need, you could work temporarily for a similar business as Allis did, seek guidance from a mentor or coach, or enroll in a sales class.

Define your target audience. Identifying a specific customer target will help you refine your selling strategy and be more efficient. Let’s say your company sells photocopying machines. Is your target audience small retailers? Corporate offices? Schools? “People fail often times because they try to be all things to all people,” Schwartz says. “You have to segment your selling efforts.”

Study customer buying habits. Once you’ve identified your audience, pay close attention to customer behavior. For example, if you’re selling a high-priced item, you’ll observe that customers often take longer to make a decision. That means you should plan to spend more time closing the deal. When Allis sold jewelry similar to her own at the boutiques where she worked, she soon noticed that her prices were too low. “I initially charged a lot less and realized that customers were starting to question the quality of the product,” she says.

Fawn over your first customers. When you start out, Schwartz says, you should do everything possible to please your first customers, even if it means not making as much money from sales as you’d like. Those first customers will help create your company’s reputation. “You are going to need testimonials,” Schwartz says. “It means so much to have those references early on.”

Take time to build relationships. One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is failing to build relationships with customers, says Rick Segel, author of Retail Business Kit for Dummies (Wiley, 2001). “The first thing you are selling is yourself. If they don’t like you, the sale is not going to happen.” Allis makes a point of sending personalized emails to buyers rather than a standardized message. She also devotes plenty of face time to customers by hosting trunk shows and working the counter at her Brooklyn storefront.

Stay on the radar. Once you’ve established rapport with customers, find ways to stay top-of-mind with them, such as through regular newsletters about your business. When Allis is running a sale or hosting events, she updates her blog, her website’s events page and her company’s Facebook page. “Facebook drives so much traffic to my site,” she says.

Don’t make assumptions. Too often, small-business owners sabotage their sales by assuming they know what customers need or are willing to pay, says Keith Rosen, author of Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions (Wiley, 2008). Instead, try to ask customers as many questions as possible to learn what’s driving their purchase and what criteria they’re using to make their decision.

Establish a daily ritual. It’s easy to neglect sales prospecting when you’re wearing all the hats in your company. To avoid that pitfall, create a sales routine. That might mean reserving an hour each day for prospecting calls or setting a weekly goal of meeting at least 10 potential clients. “A defined daily routine is non-negotiable,” says Rosen.

Showcase your success. Your website is often the first and only contact people will have with your company. Not only should it be clean and professional looking, but it also should help build credibility. Schwartz recommends including testimonials, along with case studies of clients you’ve worked with. “People love case studies,” he says. “They’re not buying talk, they are buying [your] actions.”

Become an industry expert. Establishing yourself as a leader in your field will strengthen your sales pitch and attract new customers, Rosen says. You can write articles, start a blog or seek media exposure, all of which can build credibility and trust. Earlier this month, for example, Allis talked about jewelry trends on Martha Stewart Living Radio. “People want to see you as someone who understands the industry,” Schwartz says.

How to start a career in car sales

Many sellers think that the best way to cultivate a prospect or sales lead is to start a sales pitch. Sales pitches consist of two parts:

  1. A description of your offering and its benefits.
  2. An attempt to get the customer to either buy immediately or agree to an appointment. (The close)

However, sales pitches almost always fail because they flood the prospect with information and then demand a commitment. It’s too much, too soon.

Rather than pitching, your goal at the beginning of the relationship should be to start a conversation. For example, suppose you’re making cold calls. There are two ways to do this:

1. A sales pitch:

  • You: I’m John Doe calling from Acme, a leading provider of cloud-based services that increase productivity and save money in the following ways. yada, yada, yada. Our product has these unique features. yada, yada, yada. If I could show you how to save 100%, would you be willing to meet with me for an hour for a free estimate at no obligation?
  • Prospect: [hangs up]

2. A conversation starter:

  • You: This is John Doe from Acme. Is this a good time to talk?
  • Prospect: Yes [or No]
  • You: Okay, I’ll be brief. I’m calling because retail firms hire us to increase walk-in customers with curbside advertising. How are you currently enticing customers into your store?

With the sales pitch, you’re lucky if you get to the end of the pitch before the prospect hangs up. More importantly, you have no idea whether what you said (your pitch) made any sense to the prospect. A prospect who really DOES need your offering may hang up, or say “not interested” simply because they didn’t “get” what you were talking about.

By contrast, the conversation starter simply states in brief how you help your customers (from customer’s viewpoint) and then invites a dialog. Because you’re not overflowing the prospect with information, you can now discover the prospect’s needs and whether your offering is a good match.

The same thing is true with sales emails. There are two ways to write them:

1. A Sales Pitch:

Dear Mr. John Doe

I hope you are well.

I represent Acme, a leading provider of cloud-based services that increase productivity and save money in the following ways. [yada, yada, yada. ].

Our product has the following unique features. [yada, yada, yada]

If you call me at 800-555-1212, I can give you a quote. For more information, click on our website
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call me at 800-555-1212.

Jane Smith

2. A Conversation Starter:

I’m writing because retail firms hire us to increase walk-in customers with curbside advertising. If you’re interested in how this works, I can send you a short summary.

The sales pitch will almost always result in the prospect deleting the email.

By contrast, the conversation starter is more likely to get a response because it places almost no burden on the prospect.

So, let’s say the prospect responds to your conversation starter. You now provide a little more information, and continue the conversation, using email as the vehicle:

John, thanks for responding. Our customers hire us to paint their automobiles so that they’re mobile billboards. When parked outside a store, they can increase foot traffic as much as 50%. How are you currently enticing customers into your store?

You may end up trading emails several times as the conversation proceeds. Because you’ve engaged the prospect in a conversation, you can now assess needs and craft a meaningful solution.

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How to start a career in car sales

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Turn your car into cash with minimum hassle by pricing it strategically, advertising it on the right site, and sorting the serious buyers from the tire kickers.

Here’s how to remove the stress and maximize the cash when you sell your car privately, rather than trading it in to a dealer.

1. Collect your paperwork

Locate the following items and complete these tasks before you list your car for sale:

Your car’s title. This is also called the pink slip; it gives you the legal right to sell your used car. But don’t sign it yet.

Check with your lender. If you still owe money on your vehicle’s loan, call the lender to learn how to arrange the sale.

Visit the DMV online. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to see what paperwork is required to transfer ownership. Many forms, such as a bill of sale, can be downloaded and printed out. Also, find out if the license plates go with the car after it’s sold.

Order a vehicle history report . Be proactive and order a Carfax or AutoCheck report to show to prospective buyers. This provides answers to many potential questions, such as the number of owners and accidents.

2. Set an asking price

You want your car to stand out from all the other used cars for sale by owner near you. So you first need to estimate the value of your car so you can set an attractive “asking price” for your used car. Look up your car’s value on Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book and check the price of similar cars in local ads. Set your price slightly above the current market value but still in the ballpark of a good deal. So, if the pricing guide says your car is worth $4,200, you might set the price at $4,750. This leaves you some negotiating room.

For cars priced under about $10,000, be careful not to go above the nearest $1,000. So, for a car worth $4,200, it would be a mistake to list it at $5,100. Many people will set search engine limits at, say, $5,000, so they’ll never see your ad. Furthermore, there’s a psychological difference between $4,900 and $5,100 that might put off some buyers.

3. Give your car curb appeal

The best way to sell your car is to give it curb appeal. When a buyer shows up to see your car, you want them to take one look and say, “It looks great!”

You don’t have to fix every little dent and scratch, but wash and vacuum the car and remove all the junk that’s accumulated over the years. Giving it a professional detail is good for newer, more expensive used cars. But the higher the price, the longer it will take to sell the car, and the gleam of the detailing will wear off after a few weeks.

Pay particular attention to all the details a prospective buyer will see as he or she approaches the car, opens the door and slides into the driver’s seat. You want that positive impact to continue as she sits in the car and, hopefully, picture it as her very own.

How to start a career in car sales

4. Create ads that sell

Good photos — and lots of ’em — will build confidence in the buyer’s mind and make your car stand out from other used cars for sale by owner.

Photograph your car parked in a nice location just after sunset for the best lighting. Move around the car, shooting pictures of it from various angles. Inside, take a picture of the driver’s seat, the back seat and the trunk. Experienced sellers also include shots of the odometer (to show the current mileage), the tires (to show tread depth) and the engine.

There are many places to post an ad for used cars for sale by owner and each serves a slightly different audience:

Craigslist : It’s free and it’s everywhere. But watch out for scammers.

Autotrader : Rates start at $25 for a basic ad, but the website can be searched from anywhere in the country and tends to pull in serious buyers.

EBay Motors : You can auction off your car or buy an inexpensive ad.

Speciality sites: If you are selling a rare car, look for collector or club websites.

Most ads prompt you to add the basic information about your used car such as year, make, model, mileage and price. So in the body of the ad, don’t repeat those details. Instead, provide additional information such as options, add-ons and any special details about the car that aren’t obvious, such as “clean title” or “just passed smog.” Avoid canned phrases such as “AC blows cold!” or “highway miles only!”

5. Screen callers carefully

When selling your used car, whether it’s on Craigslist or AutoTrader, you can save time and headaches by screening callers before you begin interacting with them. Consider creating a separate email account and getting a free Google Voice phone number just to use for selling a car privately.

If you’ve listed a low price for a popular car, you can expect lots of phone calls. But let the calls go to voicemail and review them before you decide which caller to contact. Be alert for buyers who sound like they’re calling multiple listings. They’re probably trying to “flip” used cars — buying them cheap and then reselling them at a profit. Often, they throw out a lowball price or try to get you to negotiate before they even see the car.

When you get a buyer who sounds legit, call them back and be ready to review the basics about the car: year, make, model, mileage and condition. While talking with them, you usually can get a sense of whether they are serious about buying your car.

6. Set up a test drive

Arrange a safe place to meet and show them your used car. This can be at a mall or a local coffee shop. If possible, take a friend with you. Some cities are setting up safe locations for buyers and sellers to meet.

Let them test drive the car — but go along with them since they will probably be unfamiliar with the area and need directions. On the test drive, avoid the impulse to “sell” them your used car — instead, simply respond to any of their questions.

If the buyer wants to have a mechanic inspect the car, they should pay for the inspection. If they return with a long list of problems, you might have to lower your price. But only address problems requiring immediate attention, not to every last thing on the list.

7. Close the deal

After the test drive, the prospective buyer will, hopefully, begin negotiating to buy your used car. Let the buyer make the opening offer. For example, if he asks, “What’s your best price?” you can answer, “Well, I think my asking price is fair. But you can make me an offer.”

Negotiate slowly and repeat the numbers to make sure there’s no misunderstanding. Before you agree to a deal, make sure the buyer is prepared to pay either in cash or with a cashier’s check. If you still owe money on the loan, you might need to close the deal at your bank.

In most cases, you’ll sign and date the title and give the buyer a bill of sale . In many states, you will also be required to file a “release of liability” form to prove you no longer own the car.

Once you’ve completed these steps, the only thing left is to cancel your auto insurance policy — and perhaps start shopping for a new car .

About the author: Philip Reed is an automotive expert who writes a syndicated column for NerdWallet that has been carried by USA Today, Yahoo Finance and others. He is the author of 10 books. Read more

How to start a career in car sales


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At 35, you may be going through what some refer to as a “midlife crisis,” or you may just be bored with the career track you have taken. Some “thirty-somethings” may be sidetracked by an economic slowdown and find themselves out of work. But, never fear, it is not too late to change careers. At only 35-years-old, there is lots of light left at the end of the career tunnel.

One of the Upsides of 35

Starting a new career at this midlife stage may offer even more opportunities than you had when you were younger. Look for new challenges or parlay your talents into fields related to your current career. The possibilities are plentiful for 35-year-olds. You only have to decide what you will be happy doing for your next chapter, then follow your passions.

Mental Health

Mental health is an industry that values experience and maturity. With many years of life experience, you can offer guidance and wisdom to those who need it. If you do not already have a degree in psychology or counseling, you may consider investing the time and resources needed to get a degree or two including a master’s degree. Because mental health is a field you can work in until well past the traditional retirement age, the investment is a good one.

There are dozens of jobs in the mental health field that are ideal for a new career at 35. Here are just a few:

  • Therapist. As a therapist, you can work in private practice, in a group practice with other practitioners or at a treatment center. You can choose to work with a group of people, such as adolescents or people struggling with addiction. You can specialize in a therapy such as art therapy, yoga therapy or music therapy.
  • School counselor. School counselors or guidance counselors help students while they are in school. These counselors offer help with day-to-day struggles, personal issues and career counseling. If you choose such a rewarding career, you have the chance to make a dramatic difference in the life of a child.
  • Life coach. Put your life experience to use as a life coach. You can help people achieve their life goals and realize their potential.

A Career in the Business Sector

If you are business-oriented, there is no shortage of jobs in the business sector. Business continues to grow at a healthy pace so a career in business leads to long-term job stability. There are many opportunities available in business for a new career at 35. Here a just a few:

  • Business operations management. All businesses need someone to manage their departments and help guide strategy. As a business operations manager, you help with hiring, budget, contracts and general business operations. If you have a background in business, this is a natural transition because your years of experience will be highly valued.
  • Fundraising. Fundraising is a great new career at 35 if you are good at reaching out to people, building community and writing letters asking for support. Nonprofits, educational organizations and health and research institutions always need help and support when trying to raise funds for their causes.
  • Financial analyst. If numbers are your thing, consider becoming a financial analyst. You can be at the forefront of economic trends and help people manage their investments. Financial analysts often work in insurance and financial services industries.

Be a Recruiter

If you have worked in an industry long enough, you may be able to transition into recruiting for that industry. Recruiters help track down and hire talent in an industry niche. Recruiters can work in almost any field: legal, creative, management and education. To be a successful recruiter, you will need a few important skills. Those include communication, the ability to sell, a good attitude and a friendly demeanor. If you are starting this new career at 35, it is easiest to start in an industry in which you have experience.

Beauty and Wellness

Desk jobs are not for everyone. That may be one of the reasons you are changing your career at 35. The beauty and wellness industry offers many opportunities. You can transition your years of working out or training for marathons into a new career at 35. Or you can apply all that experience you have doing your daughter’s hair or giving your spouse massages. You will need a certification for many of these, but you will have a lot of flexibility on when and where you work.

  • Personal trainer. Help others achieve their fitness goals by becoming a personal trainer. You can work with them one-on-one or in groups. Your office can be a gym, a park or even the beach.
  • Massage therapist. Everyone loves a good massage. You can apply your relaxation skills at a spa or salon or do in-home therapy.
  • Esthetician. Estheticians do waxing, facials and other skin-care treatments.
  • Hairstylist. Everyone needs their hair done at some time or another. Specialize in cuts or colors and let your creativity flow.

Hands-On Jobs

A new career at 35 means the chance to turn your hobbies into your profession. If you are skilled at carpentry, painting, car mechanics or general repair work, branch out and start your own business. You can start with referrals and reach out to your community through neighbors or social media. You may be able to build enough business to start your own company.

Health Care

Jobs in the healthcare field are always in supply. There are a variety of fields to choose from depending on your interests. You can be a dental assistant, patent care technician, medical insurance biller, patient advocate or a nurse.

Whatever new career you choose at 35, make sure you select one that you will be happy doing for the next 35 years. Or, until you decide to change careers again.

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Can you make as much money as an executive at Louis Vuitton as you would in the same position at say JP Morgan? Is knowledge of fashion and trends important if you want to be the head of Richemont, owner of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels among many other prestige brands? What should one study in college to prepare for a career as a big boss at Bulgari or Hermes?

Kate Benson, founding managing director of Martens & Heads, has made a career of placing top people in some of the finest luxury brands in the world. This year alone, she has placed key appointments to brands like Baccarat, De Beers, Versace, Etro and Fendi to name a few. Here, she gives us her insights on how we can penetrate the gilded world of luxury brands.

Is a career in the luxury industry lucrative as compared to a career in finance? How so?

A career in the luxury industry can be extremely lucrative. However this is also relative to the worth of the industry that you’re working in. The fashion industry is known as a billion dollar industry whereas, there is clearly more invested in the finance realm. That isn’t to say that someone who has a VP title in fashion can’t earn as much as a VP-level executive in finance. Fiscal worth is relative to your company and the role you play in it.

How does one get into the luxury industry? When should you start preparing for it?

The earlier the better but I wouldn’t say this is new news. Any industry that you work in, it’s always admirable to work your way from the bottom up. Of course, it’s also possible to put a spin on whatever position you currently hold. Marketing, sales and branding can be the same for many industries. Everyone is trying to market a product, sell it to a consumer and further strengthen their brand. The luxury industry will require a different spin than say one in finance – but it’s not impossible to break into the luxury sector, having never had experience in it before.

What should you study in college? Are there degrees that would transition easily into the luxury industry over others?

It truly depends on what you’re interested in doing within the luxury realm. You may want to be a fashion editor, in which case studying English would be a beneficial path. Fashion merchandising, design, illustration, product development, or textiles are very popular degrees to study in fashion. Well-known fashion schools include: FIT, Parson’s, The New School, Rhode Island School of Design and Central Saint Martins, to name a few. If you’re unsure of your path, studying marketing, sales or business would be advantageous in the luxury industry, and would even allow for an easy transition into a different career, if you choose to do so in the future.

What skill sets and qualifications do luxury conglomerates look for when they are searching for top people? Is knowledge of fashion, style and trends necessary?

Absolutely. Having knowledge or a vested interest in the industry that you’re pursuing is always important for both you and the organization. You are only truly successful in something, if it’s your passion. We tell our candidates all the time to do as much research as possible, and to go in armed with a deep knowledge and understanding of trends, forecasting etc. However while having an inherent knowledge about the field may be important, having business acumen and know-how are equally so.

What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in the industry?

The same as I would say for any other field. Network, take informational interviews and do your homework. Go to as many stores as possible, see what is working, what is not, what is selling and what is not. Talk to the people in the stores and get their take, which quite often is different from a HQ perspective.

What has been the biggest coup of your career?

Truly the biggest coup of my career was having the good fortune of working for a wonderful brand like Yves Saint Laurent when it was owned by Mr. Saint Laurent and his partner. I would have never had the appreciation for the luxury business and brand if it had not been for that experience.

Which luxury brands are the best to work offer? Which offer the best compensation and employee benefits?

I am not going to name names, as I would of course recommend my clients. However it depends what you want. Working for a US-based luxury brand is completely different than working in an affiliate office. The right answer is to have experienced both – an environment where you have complete responsibility for brand, image and the business as well as experience where you have to apply those concepts to your home market.

What has been the oddest request you’ve ever had from a luxury company? What about from a job candidate?

I once had a client who wanted me to fly to Dubai so I could sit in on a one-hour interview with him. And recently a candidate asked if my client could meet him in his apartment because he was worried about confidentiality.

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How to start a career in car sales

Ever wonder why you’re attacked by a swarm of car salesmen when you drive onto a dealer’s lot? Some of it has to do with how a car salesman is paid and how their pay plans work.

When car salesmen work on a commission only pay plan, the hard and fast rule is – if you don’t sell, you don’t get paid. Only the most dedicated and strong survive and the weak eventually fall to the side.

Table of Contents

  • Most common car salesman pay plans
  • Fixed or set-salary
  • Commission only pay plan
  • What is a draw or draw check?
  • What is a sales guarantee pay plan?
  • How much money does a car salesman make?
  • How a car salesman’s pay plan work
  • How to figure a car salesman’s commission
  • Additional bonuses and cash spiffs

Car Salesman Tips

  • Typical day in the life of a car salesman
  • The life cycle of a professional car salesman
  • Car salesman slang, lingo and terms
  • Car dealership advertising explained
  • All car salesman tips and advice

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Common types of car salesman pay plans

There are two major pay plans in the retail car sales world, commission only and fixed/set salary. The professional car salesman on a commission only pay plan would not have it any other way. They understand depending on how hard and smart they work towards selling cars is a direct reflection on how much commission they will earn.

When a salesman is on a commission only pay plan their check can fluctuate week by week or month by month depending on several factors, including the salesperson’s attitude, weather, economy, time of year, marketing by the dealership, and other factors. If they’re on a fixed salary they will be paid the same amount no matter what the sales conditions are.

By not having a fixed salary your income limit is endless. The decision is yours to make; do you want a chance to make 6 figures a year or do you want to have a steady stream of income at around $30,000 a year? I know the choice I made.

You Make the Choice

Car salesman pay plans are set by the dealership. They can vary by dealer group or individual dealership. Always read and understand your pay plan before agreeing by the terms and conditions set forth.

Many times a dealer will tie in certain aspects to a car salesman’s pay plan such as customer satisfaction scores, online reviews etc. What this means is good scores and reviews net you a little bonus while bad scores may hit your pay in a negative way.

I’m sure the laws vary state-by-state if it’s legal to tie certain goals to a car salesman’s pay plan. However, you have control, if you’re not happy with the commission structure or how it works. Don’t sit around and gripe about it. Go find a dealership that offers more opportunity for your talent.

How to start a career in car sales

Fixed or set salary car sales pay plan

This type of pay plan pays you an hourly wage or a certain fixed amount a month. The good thing about this type of pay plan is you have security knowing you’re going to receive a certain amount of money every paycheck.

The bad thing about this pay structure is if you’re really good at selling cars you’re not going to make any more money than what you’ve agreed to. To make matters worse. If you decide to sit back, collect a paycheck, and not produce any car sales. Management will not want to keep paying you and may even begin treating you poorly in an attempt to run you off.

How to start a career in car sales

Commission only car salesman pay plan

Most traditional car dealerships pay their salespeople on a “commission only” pay plan. This means if they do not sell a car, they do not get paid. For some “green peas” (new to car sales), there can be several days between selling a car and getting paid.

Commission only pay plans are also one of the major factors to such high turnover rates associated with the retail car sales industry. There is no limit to what a car salesman can make on this kind of pay plan. The more experienced and talented the salesperson is, the more money they can make.

I know several car salesmen that make well over $100,000 a year on these kinds of pay plans. These salesmen have turned down Management positions several times because they are comfortable where they’re at, and they know their skill in sales is providing them well financially.

A commission only pay plan may also fill the car dealer’s floor with “sharks,” these kind of salespeople will stick you in the back every chance they get. If you’re timid, don’t apply yourself, and don’t have any natural sales skills or work habits. You’ll be lucky to make enough money to survive very long with this type of pay plan.

If a car salesman does not sell enough cars in a month on a commission only sales plan to meet the states guidelines on minimum wage. The dealer will give the salesperson a “draw” against their commission. This option will not last very long either, commonly just a few months. The dealer is looking for producers that make them money, not cost them money.

What is a car sales draw or draw check?

A draw check is normally minimum wage at a 40-hour workweek no matter how long or hard a salesman worked for the week. To entice a car salesman to apply with a dealership they may up the draw to $2,000 or more.

Previous sales commission a car salesman earns from the month before are normally paid around the 15th of the month. The total commission, bonuses and spiff money is calculated and then the draw amount is deducted from that amount. Taxes and any deductions are then deducted from the balance.

If a car salesman earns a total of $2,800 for the month and the draw was $1,500. The salesman’s “settle up” commission check, before taxes, would be $1,300.

If the car salesman earns under the draw amount in total commissions, they will not receive a commission check. This will put a car salesman “in the hole” or “in the bucket” with the dealership.

Let’s say the salesman only made $1,200 in total sales and commission; he would start the next sales month in the hole with a $300 draw on the books. This salesman will have to make a minimum of $1,800 before making a commission check and getting out of the hole.

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