How to Be a Good Car Salesperson (And How to Be Great)

By Canada Drives Newsroom | Dealer Services

What’s the first picture that pops into your head when you think of a car salesperson? For many car shoppers, the image they expect to greet them at the door is someone with slicked-back hair, a plaid jacket with elbow patches, a gold chain, and shiny shoes straight from the eighties. But even if that’s the attire you choose, it doesn’t define who you are as a salesperson.

Rather, it’s how you do business. While it seems overly simplistic, learning how to become a good car salesman or saleswoman is almost completely about doing the little stuff well.

Characteristics of a good salesperson

If anyone tells you that selling cars is easy, they’re either a born natural or they’re lying. It takes perseverance, dedication, and a host of learned traits to develop into a productive automotive superstar. 

1. Stay positive 

Whether you haven’t had your tie cut yet or you’re thirty years deep into a sales career, positivity and enthusiasm are fundamental for sales. A positive demeanour is more than putting on a smile and holding your head high. It’s an attitude that you put on every morning and wear throughout the day. Learn to modify your speech to use positive language so that it will not only guide customers to make a positive decision, but it will keep negative thoughts at bay. Co-workers and customers alike will notice the difference. 

2. Learn the product inside out

Today’s car buyers are extremely well-read. Before they visit the dealership, they’ve invested more than 13 hours into researching their vehicle options. Learning how to be a good salesperson requires that you know your product better than the customer

Since the general model knowledge is online, find two or three little-known or unique features for each model and store them in your memory bank. And when you pull them out in a vehicle walkaround or demo, use an anecdote to relate the feature and benefit to the customer. 

3. Connect with the customer

When a shopper is looking to make the second-largest purchase in their life, there’s an expectation for the salesperson to engage them beyond niceties. That starts with listening closely and asking questions to draw out more detail about their needs. Find common interests. Ask leading and open-ended questions to get beyond yes-and-no answers.

Connecting with the shopper also involves the right body language. Hold your head high, make eye contact, and have a relaxed smile. Either sit casually or lean forward. Crossed arms and leaning back are both signs of being ‘closed’. 

4. Follow the process

There’s leeway for personalizing the sales process, but skipping steps is NOT a trait of a successful salesperson. Sales managers implement a tried-and-true method from the initial greeting and needs assessment to demo drive and close, not to mention the delivery. While skipping steps might still work from time to time, it’s the beginning of bad habits. Build good habits around the sales process and you’ll find success.

5. Set goals

It may be your first month on the showroom floor or you’re a seasoned sales veteran. Setting clear expectations and goals for yourself will help you discover your potential in sales. Be realistic and optimistic by setting a goal that should be attainable according to the market, time of year, and your level of experience. 

How to become a great car salesperson

Nearly two in three salespeople will leave a dealership every year. It’s a tough career, even when you can make over $100,000 in your first year if you’re good at what you do. However, how much a good car saleswoman or salesman makes pales in comparison to the earnings a great salesperson can achieve. 

Realizing how to become the best car salesperson in your store doesn’t happen overnight; it takes years. However, a few things will help you achieve that goal sooner.

1. Develop relationships

You aren’t making a sale. You’re starting a relationship. A key part in how to be a better salesman is recognizing that the product is important, but the relationship doesn’t end when they drive off the lot. Throughout the sales process and beyond, keep building that foundation to win your customer’s loyalty and advocacy. 

It’s also a good idea to be a habitual networker. We don’t just mean with other salespeople, but with potential partners or collaborators that can help you get to the next level. 

2. Invest in training

Everyone wants to be the Top Dog in the dealership – the one driving the nicest demo, the salesperson who gets the owner’s sports tickets, and the name everyone is asking for when they walk through the door. Setting yourself on the path to the auto sales Hall of Fame doesn’t happen on its own, and experience alone probably won’t get you there. You’ll need to make an investment of time and money to take your sales career to the next level. 

Sales training truly is an invaluable resource. Find your way to industry conferences like ARC and complete courses from industry experts like Joe Verde. The goal is to discover how to hear the question behind the question, learn how to overcome objections, and to network with some of the most successful salespeople that the industry has to offer. It’s much less about passing grades and more about applying real-world selling skills.

3. Read, read, read

Most salespeople, when they have downtime, can be found chatting by the front door, talking to the receptionist, or refilling their coffee mug in the customer lounge. Everyone deserves a moment to relax, but the best car salesman will be flipping pages instead. There are so many amazing books on developing sales skills, thought leadership, and leader training. The more you read, the more you learn. 

A few titles to add to your shelf would be:

4. Think outside the box

On your journey to discovering how to become great, you should be looking for opportunities everywhere. Mine leads in the service department during maintenance visits. Try new sales techniques like off-site test drives. Explore the potential of new markets.

For example, you could be the solution for credit-challenged car shoppers. And that’s where Canada Drives can help. We match qualified subprime car buyers with local dealerships in every town and city across the nation. 

As Canada’s premier lead generation company, Canada Drives can help your dealership attract more high-intent buyers. Then, all you have to do is close the sale.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you and your dealership get to next level!

Smart. Affordable. Reliable.

Start getting quality customers you can count on with Canada Drives today.

Join Dealer Network

Thanks for Subscribing to Our Newsletter!

Please check the box below and click the "Yes! Add Me to the List" button to confirm your consent to receive electronic messages (to your email addresses and mobile phone numbers) from Canada Drives regarding Canada Drives' products, services and related offerings (including Free Credit Building Tips, Exclusive Promotions and Newsletter).

You may withdrawal your consent at any time by using an unsubscribe mechanism in an electronic message sent by Canada Drives or by sending a withdrawal request to [email protected].

This request for consent is made by Canada Drives, Suite 600, Two Bentall Centre, 555 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V7X 1M8, Canada. [email protected] Please click here to view Canada Drives' privacy policy.