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Is automotive sales right for you? Your guide to starting a career as a car salesperson

Preparing yourself for a successful onboarding experience is a great way to get a good start in the profession

52% of American employees are considering making a career change this year, with 44% already planning to make the switch. For those who enjoy customer interaction on a daily basis and who are passionate about the automotive industry, looking into becoming a car salesperson can be a great career choice, especially if your goal is to one day hold a management position. From the overview of the job itself to what you should expect during the hiring and onboarding process, here’s what you should know before applying.

Understanding the duties involved

When looking into starting a career as a car salesperson, understanding exactly what one does in this position is vital in knowing what you may be getting yourself into before going through the application process. That said, selling vehicles is just a small part of the role, with Indeed defining a car salesperson’s primary job “is to assist potential customers in selecting a new vehicle for purchase or lease, it’s also noted that a car salesperson’s duties typically involve a wide variety of tasks. For instance, you’ll need to study up on the features and capabilities of the cars available in order to properly educate potential customers, communicate with potential customers, create and process all of the paperwork associated with a sale or lease, and match customers with a vehicle that best suits their needs and preferences — to name just a few.

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What to expect

In regards to salary expectations, Indeed notes that while the average salary for the position is typically $70,315 a year, this can vary as the overall income typically depends on the commission made from selling/leasing vehicles. However, in terms of expectations aside from salary, knowing what lies ahead in terms of requirements will ensure you’re well-prepared beforehand. Because the minimum education requirement to become a car salesperson is a high school diploma or GED according to Indeed.com, those who are entering the field for the first time may not have any prior experience in such a job (though prior experience can be a plus). 

Once hired, preparing yourself for a successful onboarding experience is a great way to get a good start in the profession, and will aid in setting a foundation for a successful introduction to such a career. With elements of a good onboarding experience including access to an employee resource site, personalized training (a factor that can help those who happen to have prior sales experience), a new hire training plan, and the prioritization of making social connections. In terms of what to expect regarding a typical workday, it’s important to keep in mind that while there are plenty of skills and knowledge to acquire in such a position, a car salesperson can encounter long days and even boredom during a slow workday, according to an article by The Balance Careers. The article further goes on to note that those who do well in automotive sales typically have the opportunity to advance into sales management, though the potential to be recruited to other dealerships is another possibility that a skilled salesperson may encounter.

What’s needed to excel 

For those looking into beginning their journey as a car salesperson, knowing the strengths required to be successful is essential in determining whether or not the career will be a good fit for you. Auto Cheat Sheet emphasizes the importance of attitude in the  career, noting “you can have all the skills in the world, but if your attitude is terrible, you won’t sell anything to anybody,” further going on to note that while several factors will determine your future in the role, “the one that can take you out the quickest is your attitude.” With that in mind, understanding that the role of a car salesperson is very customer-oriented is essential, highlighting how this position may not be suitable for someone who is more introverted or who would rather have a desk job. To gain a feel for whether or not you will enjoy the job, gaining experience through any sales role can be a great first step, and will look great on a resume when applying to dealerships for a sales position.

For those seeking a career change to automotive sales, understanding what’s involved with such a position can be an integral part in determining whether or not the role is best for you. From the social climate involved to salary expectations and the attitude needed to excel, applying for the role of a car salesperson can lead to a fulfilling career for many.


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