CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a car salesman.
Is becoming a car salesman right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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While some dealerships will hire applicants with no experience, most seek candidates with at least some sales background. It is therefore wise to start preparing in high school. Take courses in economics and business foundations to develop a basic understanding of finance. Get a part-time job that involves customer sales and/or service to hone communication skills and get comfortable with meeting new people in a professional environment.
Sales Experience & Training
If you are unable to secure a car sales position immediately following high school, gain further experience in any kind of retail sales. Dealers want salespeople who are effective communicators and have a talent for customer service; so, any face-to-face customer interaction is considered a plus.
While gaining practical experience, consider taking a few classes in sales, marketing, psychology, finance, and public speaking.
Some aspiring car salesmen take courses administered by the National Auto Academy and the Automotive Training Academy.
Get Hired by a Car Dealership
Regardless of whether or not a newly hired salesperson has prior sales experience, most dealerships require that new employees complete a training program. Coursework normally covers the dealership’s business culture, general operating procedures and systems, customer sales and service techniques, negotiation strategies, and car model features.
Once hired and trained, new recruits will for a time work very closely with a seasoned salesperson to learn the details and nuances of the job.
Many dealerships also sponsor customized staff training and workshops through professional organizations, such as those listed in the ‘Sales Experience & Training’ step. Some dealerships accept applications for formal apprenticeship programs which they may periodically run.
Obtain a License (where required)
Some states require that automobile salesmen obtain a license. In California, for example, individuals wishing to work in the field must pay a fee and submit an application to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In Colorado, applicants must pass an exam, remit a bond, complete an application, and pay a fee.
The National Automobile Association (NADA) sponsors various types of training. NADA’s Academy offers six different programs for careers with a dealership. Among these are Operations, Department Management, Fleet Sales, and Consumer Sales.
The NADA General Dealership Management Academy prepares professionals for general management roles and includes classes in financial analysis and decision making. NADA’s Special Ops program provides in-depth specialized training for sales, service, and parts managers.
Consider Post-secondary Education
Following a few years of experience, car salesmen may have the opportunity to advance to a senior role.
While some dealerships may promote experienced salesmen to management positions or management trainee positions, it is not uncommon for sales managers to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in marketing or business administration. These programs include courses in economics, statistics, and advertising.