Auto Sales

Auto Sales

The Auto Sales professional

Working as a “Car Salesman” might have a bit of stigma attached to it, but there is one thing that is not in doubt and that is the ability for the good salesperson to make a boatload of money in both salary and commission.

We’ve included the book in it’s entirety below, but you can also buy it if you’d like it in an ebook format for your kindle or other device via the link below.

Auto Sales Book CoverThe $60K Jobs – Auto Sales book now available in Kindle format for a cost of $3.99


Some very useful links:

  • www.kbb.com – the Kelly Blue Book site.
  • www.edmunds.com – great research as well as advice site.
  • FTC site – the “Facts for Consumers” that every Auto Sales expert should know.
  • www.autowarranties.com – you may or may not offer warranties, but it will serve you well to understand them.
  • www.carbuyingtips.com – Not a bad idea to understand the process from a buyer’s point of view.

$60K Jobs: The Auto Sales Professional

With no college degree or experience, increase your income to $5K per month after 90 days in Auto Sales

Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1 – What is $60K Jobs?

Chapter 2 – Why Auto Sales

Chapter 3 – At the Dealership

Chapter 4 – What you should be doing

Chapter 5 – The Process

Chapter 6 – Getting Hired

Chapter 7 – Your personal 90 day schedule


Preface

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
–George Bernard Shaw

As with our previous books, and as explained on our website (www.60KJobs.com) this book is not targeted for the person who only wants to work the normal 40 hour work week, or even “only” 5 days a week.  The target of this book, and the others, is a person who is willing and able to put in a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of reading and a lot of effort.  The target is a person who understands that it pays more to work on yourself than on your job – improve yourself and your job will also improve, as will your salary.  If this is done, then the salary will follow.  If a portion of this is not done, then the salary may still follow, but not to the extent that it would if a full effort was made.  In the end, as always, it’s entirely up to you as to how much effort you put into this.

To arrive at the content of this book, several Auto Sales professionals were interviewed and the job itself underwent some pretty extensive analysis.  We interviewed a cross section of experienced as well as new Auto Sales professionals to ensure we got a well-rounded approach at the needs for this job as well as the best approach to take to ensure you get the best position possible.

We will also stress the importance building your own brand via Social Networking.  By bringing together efforts that include Twitter, Blogging, Facebook and LinkedIn, you can create an amazing business presence and brand.  Once you have a brand and a following,  you can effectively take your following with you to your next job, thereby instantly increasing your value (as well as your commission).

…and remember, this is not about “Get Rich Quick”, it’s more along the lines of “Live Comfy Soon”.  Nothing in this book will make you a millionaire over night, but it can place you in the vicinity of a respectable salary in a new career after a couple of months.

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Chapter 1 – What is $60K Jobs exactly?

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they never quit.
– Conrad Hilton-

For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough.
-Zig Ziglar-

What is $60K Jobs?  Good question.  It’s  new employment philosophy that is based on the idea that there are a number of jobs available at any given time that do not require college degrees or previous experience that an ambitious, driven, hard working person can undertake and within 90 days get to the point where they are on track to make $60K per year.

What does $60K per year look like?

Breaking it down on a monthly weekly, daily or hourly basis:

  • $5,000 per month
  • $1,250 per week
  • $250 per day (5 day work week)
  • $208 per day (6 day work week
  • $31.25 per hour (5 days per week, 8 hours per day)
  • $26.00 per hour (6 days per week, 8 hours per day)

As you can see from the table, if you are able to work 6 days per week, 10 hours per day, you’ll have to make $20.00 per hour to clear $60K per year.  This is very, very attainable in many jobs.  The key is the desire to work that many days and that many hours per day over a period time to make that kind of money.  We understand that sometimes you won’t be able to – often your employer won’t schedule the hours for you to do this, there are too  many other employees to divide the hours among, you are considered “too junior” to be given these hours, etc, etc.  These are all valid reasons that may cause problems for you to get these kinds of hours – since we know about them ahead of time we should be able to prepare for them when the arise.

In Auto Sales, breaking down a salary “by hour” isn’t really realistic as that’s not truly your goal.  You would never say “I’m going to the lot and I’m going to make $30.00 per hour today.  Instead, your goal is set based on the number of vehicles you sell, or…possibly even more appropriately…the number of prospects you talk to.  After you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll have some actual numbers to go by, but for the purpose of this book – and to keep the numbers easy to work with – we’ll assume you make a sale for every 10 prospects you talk to.  So, here’s the overall process you must become familiar with:

  • Make contacts (on and off the lot, in person or via Social Media)
  • Generate leads from contacts.  The contacts can be leads, or they can refer you to other leads
  • Contact the leads to set up appointments
  • Convert the appointment into a sale
  • Collect additional leads from the sale
  • Repeat

Based on the above process, lets look at how this breaks down with regards to you earning $5K per month.  We’ll use the figure of $750 as the average commission per sale for you.

$5,000 divided by $750 = 6.6, so we’ll say you need to close 7 deals per month to clear $5,000.  If your average commission per deal is $500, then you would have to close 10 deals per month.  By the same token, if your average sale is $250, you’ll need to close 20 deals per month.  We’ll work with the $750 number.

As stated earlier, you are making a sale for every 10 prospects you talk to, so to close 7 deals, you’ll need to talk to 70 people.  It is very important to note that Auto Sales differ from other sales in one specific concept – that is the concept of how many times do you have to talk to the customer before they buy.  In “normal” sales, the sales process involves several discussions.  In Auto Sales, you typically have them on the lot once. If they leave, statistically they won’t buy from you so you have to make your first contact very compelling.  If they do end up leaving, there are steps that must be taken to get them to return – these steps are covered later in this book.

If you’re working 5 days per week and you talk to 5 people every day, then you’ll need to work 14 days to talk to 70 people and sell 7 vehicles.

There are several variables you can directly influence.  You can increase the number of leads you talk to, you can improve your selling skills so you close a higher number of deals, you can improve your selling and negotiation skills so you average a higher commission per sale. The table below shows several permutations of the different values you have control over and how they affect your goals.

As stated earlier, you may or may not know your averages.  If you’ve been doing sales you might have an idea, but if you’re brand new to it you won’t.  Over time you will gain an appreciation for the simplicity of how to set your sales goals once you figure out your averages.

Increasing your sales – as stated earlier, there are a couple of areas you have direct influence over that you can improve to increase your quota attainment.

Increase the number of leads you talk to.  If you are starting out, this may be difficult as you don’t want to come across as the pushy salesman.  But if you do it right, you can greatly increase your exposure and therefore your lead list.  First, carry business cards with you at all times and use them in an innocuous way to let people know what you do and that you are always looking for referrals – and stress than any referral will be treated with the utmost respect and be given the best deal possible. Also, you should strongly consider getting involved in social media to increase your contact list – facebook, twitter, blogs and others are discussed in great detail later in this book.  Get very comfy with the idea that these are tools you should…I would even border on saying “must”…use in today’s climate to remain competitive.

Improve your selling skills to close a higher percentage of deals.  If you currently close 1 out of 10, you should be able to improve that number by taking some basic sales courses and reading some books (some great ones are recommended later).  Learn closing techniques, learn how to recognize when your prospect is giving you a signal they are ready to close, learn proper “meet and greet” concepts, learn to instill trust, etc, etc.  Every item you improve on will incrementally improve your close ratio.  Improving your close ratio dramatically increases your revenue.

Improve selling and negotiation skills to gain a higher sales price and therefore a higher commission on the deals you close.  Do not even think about being dishonest here – rather think in terms of how best to serve your customer.  If safety is a primary feature – maybe your customer is a new mother – then you want to be sure her vehicle has the latest and most highly rated safety features.  If speed is the primary consideration for your customer, don’t be shy about showing the newest 460HP V8 on the lot.  The ethical and moral challenge comes into play when you know you can sell that new mother with twins the 460HP V8 and increase your commission, instead of the safer vehicle. This is where it is critical you do the “right thing” and sell the correct vehicle.  This raises your own self-esteem, your reputation and the reputation of the dealership…and it keeps mom and the twins safe.  This is a win/win/win deal you should always strive for.

Not a “Get Rich Quick” scheme

I can’t make you a millionaire-only you can do that.  If you look in all of the wrong places, like I have done, you’ll find no shortage of people that claim they’ll help you become a millionaire.  That’s not what our web site or our books are about.  As mentioned previously, we think a $60K salary is a very realistic target and we will show you how to get there.  From there to your first million you will need a new plan. That being said, there’s no reason what you pick up from this book should stop you from making more than $60K per year – we just think $60K is a great and realistic starting point.

The key here is your income-stream.  This can be a weekly paycheck, tips from your bartending job, rent checks from the house you own, investment dividends, alimony, or anything else that is bringing money into your household.  Better yet, a combination of several of the above listed items!  This is what will make you comfortable in life-knowing that your income is more than your expenses.  That’s a worthy goal for anybody to achieve and its common sense.  But, as you may have heard, common sense is not so common.  It’s surprising how many families live paycheck to paycheck, trying to figure out how long they can go without paying the electric bill before they come home to a dark house.  When they finally get enough to pay that bill, it’s so far behind it takes an entire paycheck, and then other bills fall behind.  It’s a vicious cycle that will eventually drive a family into bankruptcy, and worse.  Again….been there, done that!

The single key that will get any family around this is to make more money than they spend.  Most books you read tell you to tighten up the belt, scrimp and save, recycle, don’t eat out, get one more year out of that 1972 Datsun pickup, and eat Top Ramen for dinner at least three times a week.  That’s no way for anybody to live, especially not somebody who has the ambition to be successful-somebody like you.  I know you have this ambition or you wouldn’t be reading this book.

Having more money coming in than going out is the key.  It’s very easy to understand, undeniably true, and so very elusive to 95% of the people of the world.  I would like to show you how to increase your income stream.  I’ll let you worry about what’s for dinner-that’s a decision for you and your spouse-but the end result will be that you won’t be eating Top Ramen (unless you want to-and who wouldn’t??).  The only income-stream this book spends any time on is the income you will derive from your job.  Investments, rental property or whatever is up to you to research further.  They are great ideas, and I would encourage you to look into them after you get to a position where you are comfortable and not eating Top Ramen six nights a week!

Depending on where you end up working, you may have access to a number of “Wealth Building” tools – you need to be sure you understand them and take advantage of them.  While small time dealerships are nice to work in, working for larger chains such as vendor dealerships usually offer some of the following:

Corporate benefits add up (stock options, 401k, etc)

After getting out of the Marine Corps, I had no understanding of stock options and 401(k) retirement accounts.  These two items, however, are what can and will make me wealthy-you too if you take the time to understand them.  Let me explain both of these plans in plain English so you can understand the revenue generating potential:

Employee Stock Purchase Plan:

This is based on a six-month purchase cycle, whereas I contribute a fixed amount from every paycheck (currently 5%).  This amount is used to buy corporate stock at the end of the six-month cycle.  The price of this stock purchase is arrived at by subtracting 15% from either the period start date, or stop date price, whichever is lowest.  So if the stock price on the day the buying period started was $37.50 and $8.37 on the last day, my stock price would be $8.37 minus 15%, or $7.11.  I’ve made at least 15% right off the bat.  The key here is to determine which way the stock price is going.  If, in the above example, the price went from $37.50 to $8.37, then this might not be a great idea because after your purchase at $7.11, the price might continue to fall.  However, if the price started at $8.37, and increased over the six months to $37.50, then purchasing at $7.11 is a great idea.  If your purchase was for 200 shares, you made $6,078 dollars immediately!  The catch here is that you don’t know which way the stock price will be going during the six months, and once you’ve started contributing, you’re pretty much stuck.  You can pull out, but it’s not the “right” thing to do-and doing so will affect your ability to participate during the next 6 month cycle.  I’ve become a firm believer in the stock market, and I believe in the long-term holding strategy.  When I buy the stock, I don’t watch the daily, or even the weekly prices.  I’m in it for the long haul, and I believe that the economy will turn around, and I will profit.

401(k) Retirement Plan:

This plan is based on a given percentage I contribute monthly (currently 5%).  This amount is given prior to taxes being assessed against my salary, so this reduces my overall taxable income-that’s a great benefit!  Additionally, the money I contribute accrues interest untaxed until I withdraw it.  Ideally, I won’t withdraw the money until I’m retired, at which time my salary will be considerably lower than it is now, so I’ll be taxed that much less.  The net effect is that the un-taxed contributions accumulate interest year by year.  Each year, more interest is added, and that interest collects interest.  After a period of time, this amount will far exceed the amount I actually contributed.  Additionally, most companies will “match” your contributions, up to a certain amount.  So if you contribute $2,000 annually, your company may also contribute an additional $2,000 for you!  That’s even better!!  My current company doesn’t match my contributions; they instead do a year-end dump.  At the end of the year, they’ll add a lump sum to my 401(k) based on several factors.  This lump-sum is usually more than 100% of what I’ve contributed.  This isn’t a bad way to go either!

Between the Stock Purchase Plan, and the 401(k), my net worth is increasing dramatically as time goes on.  The contributions for both plans will increase as my salary increases because the contributions are based on a percentage of my salary-not a fixed amount.  So as time goes by, my contributions increase, and I don’t have to do anything to make that happen!

My point in discussing the above Wealth-building plans is to impart to you the importance of choosing an employer that offers these kinds of benefits.  Usually, the larger the company you’re working for, the better the benefits.  A key point here is that the military offers neither of these two options and most military people go through their military lives never being able to take advantage of them.

This entire approach sounds greedy, and I’m not a greedy person.

Greedy?  No, I don’t agree.  I think it’s every person’s responsibility to make as much income as they are able to make in a legal and ethical manner.

Yes, I said “responsibility”.

I’ve never bought into the notion of people who prefer poverty because of religious or moral reasons – in fact, I believe we’re put on this Earth to make the best life for ourselves and our loved ones that we are capable of – doing less is, I believe, the immoral and unethical thing to do.  You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to provide the best life possible.  To me, that means the most choices.  Choices equal opportunities – opportunities for growth, opportunities for education, opportunities for experience.  Without choices, a person’s life is degraded to whatever circumstance provides for.  With choices, a person’s life and life experiences can be elevated to truly lofty levels.  The key, as mentioned above, is choices.  How do we earn the right to make choices?  By having the means to fund them.  Most choices aren’t free and the “”better” choice is often the more expensive one.   Here’s a few to ponder

I know the public schools where I live are not very good so I’d like to send my daughter to a private school.  Public school is free; the Private school I have chosen will cost me $800 per month.

  • Choice 1 – public school, degraded education, degraded social experience
  • Choice 2 – Private school, improved education, elevated social experience.

My car is on its last leg – time to shop for a new one

  • Choice 1 – you cannot afford the safest or most reliable vehicle, so you purchase one from a used car lot and pay a very high interest rate
  • Choice 2 –  you have the money to afford a safe, reliable car and are able to purchase at a lower interest rate

At the end of the month, you have no money left over

  • Choice 1 – so you never get a chance to invest any money
  • Choice 2 – you are able to invest in real estate or the stock market, thereby increasing your net worth and putting your money to work for you.

…you get the idea?   Money equals choices – plain and simple.  No money, no choices.  No choices, you take what life gives you instead of getting from life that which you truly want.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Zig Ziglar…and if you haven’t you should read some of his works and listen to some of his speeches.  He’s an incredible speaker – I remember one time hearing him talk about the above subject.  When he was confronted by a person telling him that they had no need of wealth and did not care to pursue it, Zig’s response was something along the lines of: “I believe somebody that would say something like that would lie about other things too”.

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Chapter 2 – Why Auto Sales?

Money is not the root of all evil, lack of money is.

–George Bernard Shaw-

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect

-W. Clement Stone-

How does Money and Freedom sound?  Any kind of sales position that is commission based is a great way to truly control your own income.  In the corporate world, we work for a given salary – often a high salary but there is absolutely nothing we can do on a day to day basis to alter what we make.  In sales, you alter what you make by stepping up your game and working harder or smarter on a daily basis and you see the fruits of that labor immediately.  There is no better feeling in the world than being truly self-sufficient, relying on your own skills to generate your income, and knowing you can pick up and move anywhere in the world and rely on those same skills.

The Auto Sales profession is abundant with great and poor salesman.  Depending on who you talk to, you’ll hear that Auto Sales is terrible during bad economic times…yet there are those that are doing better in today’s tough times than ever before.  You’ll hear that Auto Sales is a rough and tumble, thankless, embarrassing profession yet you’ll also hear from the good ones that there’s nothing they would rather be doing and are proud of the income they make and the service they provide.  As in any other profession, what you hear from those involved in the profession is highly subjective and a definite look at the “big picture” is needed.  It is what you make of it, plain and simple. Go into with your head held high, a goal to help your customers get the right vehicle at a good deal, and your rewards will follow.

Lastly, college degrees and even prior experience is not usually required to start off in Auto Sales – and most dealerships will even provide the training you need.  How can that be a bad deal?

Salary

How much do Auto Salesmen make?  As much as they want!

How are they paid?

Usually no salary except as a “starter” during the first 90 days (usually $2,000-$2500 per month for the first 90 days but can be as low as $1200 per month for 30 days)

Usually average 25% of front end gross profit

Dealer buys vehicle for $9,500 and puts $500 into getting it ready to sell, it will be sold with a $10,000 base cost – anything past that will be considered the front end profit.  So if the salesman can sell it for $13,500 then the profit will be $3,500.  Subtracted from this Front Line Profit is an amount that will differ between different car dealerships.  This amount is called “The Pack”” and accounts for things such as cleaning the vehicle, lot maintenance, paperwork, etc.  It can range from $200 per sale to as high as $1500 on high end car lots.  For the sake of our example, we’ll say the pack is $500 – this amount would be subtracted from the Front Line profit of $3,500, leaving us with $3,000.  25% of that is $750.00 – that would be the commission for the salesman.

There are some dealerships that offer a sliding scale of percentage based on the total profit of the sale – the higher the profit, the higher your percentage.  For example, if the profit is $0-$750, your commission would be 20%, if the profit is $750-$1500, your commission will be 25%.  If the profit is higher than $1500 then your commission will be 30%.  The brackets and percentages will change – this is just an example. The purpose behind this is to incent the sales force to make as much profit per sale as possible.  Bear in mind, profit is more than just the selling price of the car itself…it also extends to the sales of add-ons, extras, service warranties, etc.

The dreaded “Mini”

There is also the concept of a “Mini”, which is the result of a vehicle being sold and after the Pack is subtracted you are left with a negative Front End Profit.  In these cases, the sales person will get a standard amount – usually $100 or $200 dollars.

Bonuses

Many dealerships will offer increased percentage when a certain number of vehicles have been sold.   So for a salesman that is making 25%, that might rise to 30% after 10 cars are sold, and maybe 35% for 11-15 cars.  In some cases –most cases actually, this increased percentage will retro-act back to the first sale of the month – this can be a huge amount of money.

It is also not uncommon for dealerships to pay a straight out bones for the tops salesman of the month, or to any salesman that sells more than 15 vehicles, etc.  This is usually an extra $250-$500. There are also sometimes incentives for the sale of hard to move vehicles.

There you have it – that’s the gist of how Auto Salesmen get paid.  Sometimes there’s a base salary, but not usually.  Most of the time it’s 100% commission.  There are “Mini’s” to deal with and there are additional bonuses to shoot for.  After a period of time you will probably be able to average out how you’re getting paid across these three methods.  You may find you are making about 1/3 from commission, 1/3 from Minis and 1/3 from bonuses.  You can then alter your focus as possible to tips the scales in favor of where you can make the most money.

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Chapter 3 – At the Dealership

Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.
-Japanese proverb-

Get out there – you got the prospects coming in. You think they came in to get out of the rain? A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money. Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?  Blake – Glengarry Glen Ross

Auto Sales is a whole new world unless you’ve done it before. From terminology you’ll hear and use to the different roles of the people at the dealership, a good understanding is critical to your success.

Auto Sales Lingo

Socrates said, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms”…meaning that unless we agree on the terminology we use when we speak to each other, we cannot actually understand what we are talking about.  So…never one to argue with Socrates…I’d like to provide the below definitions.

  • Up: Someone who walks on the car lot.  Every customer that comes through the door is an up.  This is based on the salesman perspective of “who’s up next”, meaning the order in which customers are taken by the sale staff.  As you would expect…”up” is very serious business.
  • Beback: A customer who leaves without buying, and comes back at a later date.
  • Laydown:  A customer who buys at whatever price the salesperson quotes.
  • Roach:  How car salespeople refer to people with bad credit!
  • Get-Me-Done: Somebody who has borderline credit at best, and will take almost any vehicle at any terms just to get financed.
  • Bump: Where the Sales Manager sends the salesperson back out to get a higher price, or to “Bump” the customer for more money!
  • Upside Down:  When a person owes more money on their trade-in then the vehicle is worth.
  • Negative Equity: Related to Upside Down above.  It is the amount that you still owe on your car loan after subtracting how much you are actually getting for your vehicle.
  • Positive Equity:  This is when your trade-in is actually worth more than the amount you owe on it.  Needless to say, this doesn’t happen very often!
  • Brick or Spot Deliver: Car salespeople are so worried that you’ll change your mind once you buy a vehicle, that they want you to take it NOW!  Very often, the dealer will have the customer sign bank papers before the loan is officially approved, just to get the customer down the road.
  • Buyers are Liars:  Every car salesperson is instilled with this belief!
  • The T.O:  If one salesperson can’t close you he or she will T.O. you or turn you over to a Manager or a Closer, who in turn might T.O. you to someone else, and someone else again until you buy.
  • A Packed or Loaded Payment:  Packing or loading payments is a slang term used to describe a practice used by the auto industry to get customers to agree to purchase additional products, such as credit insurance, service contracts, chemical protectants, and security devices, without revealing their true impact on their monthly payments. Packing is played out when a customer finances their vehicle through the dealer.  A customer agrees to a purchase the car at a monthly payment that is much higher than what is needed to cover the price of the vehicle.  That creates a “pack” or room in the payment to add in the optional products….of course without the customer knowing he’s actually paying more for the extra stuff!
  • Buyer’s Remorse:  This is when a car buyer starts having second thoughts about the car purchase.  Once the euphoria of getting a new or different vehicle wears off, a person begins wondering if they got ripped-off, did they do the right thing, can they really afford the payments and on and on it goes.  There are countless reasons a person second-guesses themselves. Car sales people call this “Buyers Remorse” or “Coming Out of the Ether”  This is the sales person’s worst nightmare, because this is when the buyer starts looking for ways to back out of the car deal.
  • A Today Buyer:  This is a customer who is prepared to purchase a vehicle the same day they enter the dealership.  The large majority of buyers are not in this category.  Most people want to think it over and look around before making a decision. However, it is the car sales person’s job to turn you into a “Today Buyer!”  They are trained in techniques that do just that.  They have a Selling System in place that is designed to take control of you, culminating in you taking delivery of your new or used vehicle before you leave the dealership.  They will go to great lengths to put you in that vehicle “today” including doing a Spot Delivery!
  • ACV:  This stands for Actual Cash Value.  This is what dealers use when referring to the amount of money they are actually putting in a trade. They have to differentiate this number from what they tell the customer. Very often the customer is led to believe that he is getting more for his trade than what the ACV is!
  • Quarterback:  Car salespeople hate it when you bring someone with you to the car dealership to help you negotiate a deal.  For example a young woman may bring her father to help her.  Or she may bring another relative or even worse…a boyfriend.  They call these people “quarterbacks!”
  • Clicks: The amount of miles with each mile representing one click of the odometer.
  • Stiff: Someone who has a credit rating that would make it impossible for the person to finance a car.
  • Flipped: When the balance on your trade exceeds the actual value of the vehicle.
  • Broom: When a salesman lets a customer leave without checking with management and failing to gather information. Name Phone # etc…
  • Skating: When another salesman cuts in front of you to get the customer first.
  • Tire Kicker: Someone who comes into a store to browse with no desire to purchase a vehicle.
  • Rat:  A car that is of substandard quality and not a good purchase for anyone.
  • Green Pea: Someone who is new at selling cars.
  • Choke and Croak: The disability and life insurance policies sold in the finance office.
  • Bunny: A customer who does not negotiate very well and is taken in for huge profits.
  • A Nickel: Is the equivalent of $500
  • A Dime: Is the equivalent of $1,000
  • Quarter: Is the equivalent of $2500
  • Two Pounder, Three Pounder etc: Two thousand dollar profit Three thousand dollar profit etc.
  • Tire Kicker: Someone who comes into a store to browse with no desire to purchase a vehicle.
  • Blower: Someone who comes into a store claiming they are going to buy a vehicle but never actually buys anything.
  • Stroker: Similar to a blower someone who comes into the store trying to buy a car wasting the salesman’s time by never actually committing to a purchase.
  • Back End: The amount of profit made in the finance office by selling warranties and insurance and all other kinds of extras.
  • Front End: The amount of profit made on the vehicle itself.
  • Spot: When the dealer gets you to take the car home the same day you look at it.
  • Upsell: Anything sold to the customer that does not already come with the vehicle Alarms scotch guard etc.
  • Juice: The amount of interest that a loan is calculated at.
  • Gold Balls: Someone who has an incredible credit rating.
  • Grinder: A person who likes to negotiate and works hard to get a lower price.
  • Twisted: A vehicle that has been in a rough accident
  • Tricked Out:  A car with after-market parts.
  • T.O: A second face that comes in during negotiations a Turn Over manager who usually will play hard ball as compared to the salesperson.
  • Whopper With Cheese: A deal that has an exorbitant profit.
  • Ham Sandwich: A deal with a moderate Profit
  • Mini: The smallest commission a salesman can get meaning very little profit on the deal.
  • Cancer: If the vehicle has any rot on it this would be considered a cancer.
  • Hit Everything but the Lottery: A vehicle with a high level of body damage.
  • A Diamond: A vehicle that is incredibly nice inside and out and runs great.
  • Bus Driver; Someone either a fellow employee or a customer that goes to one’s superiors in order to inform on someone.
  • A lawyer: Someone who tags along with a buyer in order to negotiate for the other person.
  • F & I Manager: The person in the dealership that has you sign the contracts and tries to up-sell you with warranties and Insurance.
  • Upside Down: Having the value of the car being less than the amount of money owed on the car.
  • Back Door the Trade: When you do not present your trade in to the dealer until you have already negotiated a lower price on the car you are purchasing.
  • Home Run: Any deal with a large profit.
  • Low Ball: When a salesman gives an unrealistic price to a customer as they are leaving “Would you buy this car today if I saved you another $2,000?” They cannot do the price and neither can any other dealer the customer goes too. Leading the customer back to the “low ball” dealer at least one more time.
  • Weak: A salesman who has a tough time closing deals could be called a “weak salesman”
  • Pack:  The dealership will allocate a certain amount of the profit to itself before determining the commission.  Lets say you make a $2000.00 profit on the car, after a $500.00 pack you will be paid on $1500.00.

Four Square worksheet

This is a tool that you will get some pretty detailed training on – most (but not all) dealerships use this in some fashion.  I’ll give you a primer here.  A 4-square is a piece of paper divided into….you guessed it…four squares.  A virgin 4-square looks like the below picture.  Notice the four primary areas are for the customer”s trade in value, the price of the vehicle they want to buy, the down payment they are prepared to make and the monthly payments to which they are prepared to commit.

Typically, the customer is asked for the down payment amount and the monthly payment amounts.  There is a trick here…when the customer says, for example, that they expected to pay $300 per month, the salesman will often add “up to?” and the customer will typically bump up their amount by an additional $50.00 without a seconds hesitation.  This $50.00 is huge – amounting to thousands over a 6 year financed deal and should not be taken lightly.  As a Sales Professional though, it is your job to gain the most profit from your sales but you should also do so without taking advantage of the customer.    The picture below shows a 4-square worksheet with the first set of numbers (called the “First Pencil”), then followed by a 4-square with updated payment amounts that have been authorized by the Sales Manager because the customer complained that the down payment and the monthly payment were both more than expected.

Who does what?

General Manager: This is the top dog on the car lot. Sometimes the owner, but often also an employee of the dealership itself.  The GM sets all policy and ensures they are enforced.  This is also a position of great visibility and responsibility.  When the dealership does well, so does the GM.  If the dealership suffers, the GM does as well.  In instances when dishonest or unethical practices are investigated, the GM is the primary focus.

Sales Manager: Depending on the size of the dealership, the Sales Manager will either be in charge of several Assistant Sales Managers, or he will have Sales Associates reporting directly to him.  It is the Sales Manager’s job to plan, organize and implement the activities of the Sales Associates he is responsible for.

Assistant Sales Manager (ASM): As above, depending on the size of the dealership, the Sales Associates may be broken into teams, each managed by an ASM.  The ASM reports directly to the Sales Manager and is responsible for the activities of the Sales Associates on his team.  In a Dealership with multiple teams, there is often a good bit of competition between the ASMs.

Finance and Insurance (F&I), usually simply called “the finance manager“:  There is one position at every dealership that is the crux of truly turning a profit from nothing, and that is the F&I man (or woman).  It is this person’s job to dig deep into the details of any person’s credit history, personal history, and whatever other information is available and to ensure the deal officially closes and that the customer purchases things like warranties, undercoating, paint protection, etc.  It’s important to note that until the F&I guy has completed the official work, nothing is done – everything up that that point is just talk.  The Finance Manager is also the one that can usually completely take advantage of the customers if the pressure is high and the ethics are low.  They are the ones who can manage and manipulate the numbers on the contract for either good or evil.  An F&I person who truly has the best interest of the customer at heart ensures a good deal is reached and generates good-will and return business.  An F&I person who is ethically challenged and only cares about squeezing every ounce of money from the customer for his own commission and dealership profit will do just that, to the detriment of his reputation and the reputation of the dealership.  The single overriding mindset that the F&I person has to work with is the simple fact that they are working with customers that are already saying “yes”, and in sales that is half the battle.  Since they are already saying “yes”, it’s far easier to get them to also agree on a lot of the extras they really don’t need or even want.

Sales Associates:  These are the “on the floor” sales people – the grunts.

Different types of car dealerships

There are some notoriously high volume, high pressure dealerships.  At these places, most of the sales staff use pressure to speed up a deal, get a customer to accept higher payments or to buy a car they really don’t want.  By the same token, even at these fast paced, high pressure dealerships, there are also some salespeople that are relaxed, friendly, and very focused on the long term satisfaction of the customer as well as the long term reputation of the dealership itself.  The mindset of the high pressure dealership or high pressure salesperson is that their selling process is not targeted for educated people who think for themselves, do their own research and make informed decisions.  Their process is more along the lines of catching people off guard, scoring a quick sale and exploiting people who are weak or uninformed.  You MUST understand that there are all types of dealerships and salespeople and you have to make up your mind what kind of place you want to work and what kind of salesperson do you intend to become.

Internet Sales

Speak to many car salesmen and they’ll complain that the internet has severely cut into their profits.  Consumers can now do a ton of research before ever stepping out of their homes.  They know exactly how much the model they want will buy, they know the profit margins, they know they can shop a deal around to 5 other dealerships within 25 miles to get the best deal.  Because of this, the car salesman is left with very little bargaining power and a customer that knows precisely how much the car they are looking at should cost them…and if they don’t get that price from you they’ll go down the street.  This can be, indeed, a very tough situation unless you’re a real professional and turn it to your advantage.  That’s what professionals in all walks of life do – they take something that others complain about and learn how to make money from it.  You can do the same with Internet Sales.

First, understand that people still usually want a test drive, and (at least for now) they have to come onto the lot to sign the paperwork.  As more and more shoppers use the internet for research, these two occurrences can likely become the only time you’ll actually get to deal with the customer.  The good news to go with here is that because of this intense research, when the potential buyer walks onto the lot, they are actually ready to buy, not “just looking around”.  This enables more of a “volume business” for the astute car salesman.

Commission only sales

It’s important to understand that at a dealership that pays their sales force commission only…which is most successful dealerships…the competition on the lot itself among the sales force is intense.  Think about it – it doesn’t cost the dealership any difference in payouts to have 20 salesmen on duty or 50…they’re not being paid by the hour so it doesn’t matter to the dealership how many are actually working at any given time.  But, from the individual salesman point of view, it very much matters.  The more on duty, the less opportunity there will be.   This is also used as a form of punishment for missing a meeting, disrespecting a co-worker or manager, or just doing your job incorrectly…you’ll be sent home which means you are making no money.

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Chapter 4 – What you should be doing

Timid salesmen have skinny kids.
-Zig Ziglar-

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt-

What you need to do

The very first thing you should do is watch a movie called “Glengarry Glen Ross”. If profanity offends you, then you’re excused.  No, you’re not…watch it anyway.  Get the DVD, fire it up on Netflix…whatever.  Go ahead, I’m serious.  Go watch it, I’ll wait.

Seriously…go watch it.

Great movie, huh?  Doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture but there are some real gems in there and every salesperson can quote at least two lines from the movie:

A-B-C.  A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing, Always Be Closing…Always Be Closing

and…

Put. That. Coffee. Down.  Coffee’s for closers only.

After you’ve digested Glengarry Glen Ross, you should take a peek at Al Pacino’s “game of inches” speech in his movie Any Given Sunday.  This speech has moved me in a way not many speeches have.  I’ve created a blog write-up about it – it can be found HERE if you’re interested.

Get thick-skinned.  If you are the type of person that withers when another person levels a mean look at your or hurls an insult your way, you need to toughen up before you walk on a lot.  Selling is a high rejection job – you’ll meet with rejection far more often then you meet with success, to the tune of about 80%/20% or so.  As you get better, you can improve those percentages, but only slightly.  The plus side of this abuse you”ll be taking is that you will truly be paid for your effort and competence.  Most people in the world drift through life collecting paychecks that have very little relevance to the actual level of professionalism or competency they display.  However, as an auto sales professional, your paycheck will be a 100% direct result of how good you are.  Get better, your paycheck gets bigger.  Make incremental improvements in your abilities, and your paycheck increases incrementally.  Continue to do that, and see you paycheck soar.

After you’ve watched the two aforementioned movies, and have donned a suit of extremely thick skin, you now must assume the correct mindset.  Here’s a good mantra to start with: “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next”.  This goes back to Sales being a high rejection job – you will have a large number of people who simply won’t buy and you have to brush it off and go after the next one…time and time again.  Here’s what it can look like:

You have a deal you think is in the bag, and then find out their credit is so bad there’s no way they can qualify, and they leave the lot in their old vehicle.  What do you do?  Repeat the Mantra – “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next”.

Your next “Up” says he’s “just looking”, but is also asking a lot of questions.  He gets a specific vehicles price from you and then mysteriously leaves after eating up about an hour of your time.  You later learn he has went down the street to another car lot to purchase an identical vehicle, but needed a price comparison.  “”Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

Your next “Up” is actually a couple looking to trade in their current vehicle that is completely paid off and they already have a vehicle in mind.  And, oh by the way, they were working with John two days ago and would like to talk to him instead.  “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next”

You find your next “Up” on a trip through your dealership’s service department.  He’s getting his transmission worked on but is so frustrated he’s ready to just cash in and buy a new vehicle.  While his car is being worked on, you get him out to the lot to look around.  He finds a nice, late model car and you go for a test drive.  You get back to the lot, everything seems to be going well but when you start to consider closing on him he backs up a bit and tells you he’s “just looking” and can’t buy anything today…and goes back into the waiting room at the service department.  “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

Another couple comes on the lot and tells you that they are “just looking”, and apparently that’s the truth because they look for about 10 minutes, and then just leave. “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

Your next “Up” is an entire family looking at minivans – but, they’re “just looking”, and leave after eating up about 45 minutes of your day. “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

Next guy through the door that is yours to work with looks like a sure thing. Well dressed, sharp, gold watch, clean cut guy – an obvious corporate type and probably makes pretty good money.  He knows exactly what he is looking for and exactly how much he’s willing to pay.  He gets through you without any problem and goes up against your Assistant Sales Manager, who is also unable to get him to budge from his pricing.  He has his car in his hip pocket as he makes his way back to your F&I guy where everybody knows some additions will be added on.  At the end of the day, nothing extra was added, he paid bargain prices for the entire deal, the dealership broke even, and you earned a “mini” commission – $200.00.

Your next “Up” is a single lady with a chip on her shoulder.  She came onto the lot knowing you were going to try to rip her off and she left the same way.  Good riddance. “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

Your next “Up” – same as before.  Bad attitude, no money and you’re better off when they leave the lot. “Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

It’s nearing the end of the day and you know you can make at least one more sale.  Right before closing, a scruffy looking guy comes in, spends three hours looking at cars, keeps you and your managers there late, and ends up leaving without so much as a thank you or a good-bye.  You suspect he’s a spy either from the place down the street, or maybe even from corporate. “”Some will, some won’t, so what – who’s next?”

I know, I know, I said you’d have a 80%/20% success rate but in the above scenario you sold only one car out of 10 visits and that single deal was not a great sale –  you made only $200.00 for the entire day.  Well, get used to it – you’ll have days like this.  As I said earlier, improve your skills and you’ll improve your sales.   Right now, you’re a complete rookie – you need to work the “rookie” out of your system.

Start with friends and family to build a client list and referral list.  Tell everybody you know what you are doing and ask them to tell everybody they know.  Hand out business cards generously

Learn how to ask good questions.  Sounds odd, I know, but you should start practicing right now, and do it every day as often as possible – asking good questions.  Think “qualifying” questions – what is special about this or that?  What color would look better?  When working with customers, you’ll want to do the same thing except you’ll focus on the characteristics they are looking for in a vehicle.  Do not fall into the trap of trying to cram a certain vehicle down your prospects throat – you’ll do far better listening to what they are looking for and working from that angle.  Be sure you understand what the customer is looking for an why they are buying.

Is the customer a motor head – does he ask a lot of questions about performance and handling?  Talk speed.

Is the customer concerned about how safe the vehicle is?  Talk safety features and industry rankings.

Always ask for referrals.  If you’re working at a dealership, there is probably a program in place or an official process of some kind to get contact information from people you talk to.  This is golden – do not take it lightly.  Work referrals with the utmost respect and professionalism – remember you are speaking with this referral because somebody gave you their name.  Treat them badly and you make your customer look bad.  Treat them right, and your original customer might have more referrals for you.

Sell the “benefit”, not the “feature”.  I have had the great opportunity to listen to a real master talk about this – the example he used was a car salesman trying to explain to him the value of anti-lock brakes and why he should spend the extra money on it.  The salesman went on for quite some time without convincing him.  Then, he happened to mention that anti-lock brakes prevent wrecks and therefore prevent you from dying.  “So that’s the ‘not-dead’ option?”.  The salesman replied that it was, indeed, the not-dead option.  “Why didn’t you just say that before…why didn’t you ask me if I wanted the not-dead option?  Of course I want the not-dead option…not getting the not-dead option doesn’t make any sense, does it?”  The salesman eventually got the sale but more importantly learned a great lesson on selling benefits, not features.

Understand the art of closing.  Learn to detect closing signals and act on them appropriately.  If you’re at a large dealership there is a very good chance you have a designated “closer” who will step in and handle this part for difficult buyers.  “Closers” make very good money…and for a very good reason.  Nobody makes a cent until the sale is closed – closers make that happen.  There is a great book you should buy and read entitled How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.  It’s a pretty hefty book and a lot might not apply to you, but what he teaches about “closing” in this book is worth the time and money you’ll spend on it.

Learn to get past bad encounters.  You won’t make a sale every time. In fact, you won’t make a sale most of the time…more often than not the prospect will leave your lot without buying from you.  Remember that all sales is a numbers game – the more people you talk to the more sales you will make.  You can increase your odds by being good in many different areas, but you still won’t get them all.  You can be the best in all areas…and you still won’t get them all.  You simply must accept that some will walk away – it’s the nature of the business.  Accept it, put it behind you, put a smile on your face and go greet the next customer.  Doing anything less will lead to complete failure.  Also, always remember, there is no law against getting referrals even from those who don’t buy!  If they don’t buy, but you have made a good connection with them, you should feel comfortable asking about referrals.  You have nothing to lose!

Understand your numbers.  This is an interesting exercise.  After you have made some sales over a period time, if you have been keeping good records you should be able to determine a general ratio of how many customers you need to talk to before you make a sale.  If, in the past week you have talked to 50 customers and you made 5 sales, then you have a pretty easy 10:1 ratio – for every 10 customers you talk to, you make one sale.  Going with this example, you now know how many people you need to talk to in order to make your quota or your own personal goal, or to exceed your goal.  Based on this, there are two ways to increase your sales.  Talk to more people or increase your selling skills.  The best process would be to do both.  If you are comfortable with a 10:1 ratio and you talk to 50 people per week, imagine if you could get that to a 7:1 ratio and talk to 70 per week.  You’ve just increased your monthly sales by 8 vehicles.

Make local contacts.  Auto Sales is one job that won’t move you out of your local region much, so the more you are involved with local people and businesses, the better.  Here’s a few examples:

Driving school instructors:  Young drivers and their parents, or even mature drivers all visit driving schools.  A great point here is that it is a constantly renewing stream of prospects.

Past customers:  If you treated your past customers well, they can become a great source for leads.  3-6 months after closing a deal, call a satisfied customer to request additional leads.

Auto Shows:   These are attended by “just looking” types for the most part they can also be a great source of leads.  And, since you’re in the auto industry, you should be in attendance anyway.

Don’t overlook commonly used “want ads” types of sites such as Craigslist – this can be a gold mine.

Look, smell and act the part.  You can possibly salvage a relationship after a poor first impression with enough work, but why put yourself at a disadvantage.  Start off with a positive look and positive attitude, and carry it through to the end…every single day.   In a bad mood?  You’re better to stay home than to try to work with customers while your attitude is in the dumps.

Understand the concept of “BeBacks”…these are the customers that come onto the lot, look around, talk to you, take your card with a smile and tell you “we’ll look around and be back”.  A statistic somewhere shows that only about 2% of the people that leave a lot actually return and buy a car.  I found myself in that 2% recently and it was because the car I wanted was incredible, and the sales person I was dealing with was very sincere and open.   In spite of that, you should not hang your hat on an expectation of doing a lot of deals with BeBacks – you will not make quota.  By the same token, you should be sure these BeBacks are on your follow up list just like everybody else…you just never know.  And, today’s BeBack could be next years buyer and if you’ve followed up and remained professional, you may get the sale.

Never lie to a customer, even on a seemingly unrelated or unimportant topic.  The car buying process is complex and buyers are taught that all car salesman are dishonest, so they will test you.  If you come across as dishonest you will not make quota.  Be sincere.  If you don’t know the answer, tell them so and then go find out.

Watch out for the $1000 bathroom break.  This happens when you have to run to the bathroom for “just a second” and come back onto the lot to find what should have been your customer being escorted across the lot by the next salesman.  That person will, of course, end up buying a whopper of a deal and the salesman will make a nice commission that would have been yours.  Swallow your pride, accept it, and just wait until you’re on the beneficial side of one of those $1000 bathroom breaks.

Don’t be desperate.  Two primary reasons here.  First, the customer can smell it and feel it.  If they get wind that you are desperate to make quota, they’ll understand that you are more in the process for yourself than for them, and you won’t get the sale.  The typical car buyer doesn’t care the least amount about your quota or how you’re doing that month, so don’t bring it up and don”t make it obvious. The second reason you don’t want to be desperate is because you’ll end up doing desperate things – exactly the sort of things the customer fears you’ll do.   You’ll sell a vehicle that’s not a good fit, you’ll talk them into extras they don’t need or that don’t make any sense, etc, etc.  So…don’t look desperate…and don’t be desperate.

Understand that cars are cars – a person buying a car can get the exact same model and deal they are getting from you elsewhere.  So the only thing in the entire equation that is different is you.  Make that difference count.  Make that difference valuable.

There is usually a period of time that most car buyers go through when they have to deal with the Finance Manager at your lot.  Some people come in and buy with money or loans in pocket, but this is rare.  Most of your customers will deal with the back-end processing and this can leave a bad impression simply because of the amount of paperwork, the pressure to buy a warranty, service agreement, other extras, etc, etc.   After all of this is over and the deal is cemented, you need to make sure that the last person they see and talk to as they drive off the lot in their shiny new car is you, and that they have nothing but great thoughts about you.  Your follow on business and referrals will depend on this.  This is critical – don’t overlook it, even to the point of delaying working with a new prospect on the lot until your most recent prospect is down the road and around the corner. A few things you should ensure:

  • The car is washed and clean – sparkling.  Who wants to go through all the hassle and drive away in a dirty car?
  • Walk around the car with them to do a final inspection.  I’m sure this happened previous to the purchase, but this is your way to show them that you really care.  You’re making sure there are no last minute blemishes or anything for them to find when they get home.  They will appreciate this and remember it.
  • The customer has no questions about the financing and/or insurance they just signed up for
  • The customer has gotten a copy of your business card, and a few extras to hand out to their friends
  • Never rest.  This is not a job you can rest on your laurels – you have to continue to work and to sell and to close deals.  There is no residual, there is no salary (usually).  There is only pay based 100% on your personal efforts.  Expect to work most Saturdays as that is the day most cars are sold.

Social Networking

If you’re not involved in the Social Networking scene, you are hurting your chances of success.  I’m not referring to Facebook updates to tell everybody what you had for dinner last night.  Rather, I’m referring to an intelligent and well planned out approach to effectively using Twitter and Linked-in at least.

If you’ve been living under a rock, Twitter is the app that allows you to communicate with people 140 characters at a time.  You can follow folks, they can follow you.  You “tweet” about items of interest and you read what others are tweeting.  If you find something that somebody else says very interesting, you can re-tweet their tweet.  So go to www.twitter.com and create an account – it’s free and easy.  You have a Twitter profile – I would highly encourage you to fill it out completely with accurate information.  When people find they like what you have to say (tweet), they’ll look at your profile.  If you have good info there and maybe a link to your own web page or blog page, so much the better.

If you’ve been in the corporate world for any length of time, you have undoubtedly run across LinkedIn.  This is a professional networking site where you can keep in touch with people all across the world.  You can post your entire job history, articles/books you have written, etc, etc.  This is quickly becoming a second kind of resume as hiring managers are asking to see your LinkedIn site more and more.  If you don’t have one, consider it a strike against you.  So, go to www.linkedin.com and build a profile.  Fill in all the info it asks for and then start reaching out to people to increase your number of connections.

Once you have your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts active, use them.  Use Twitter every day.  Send one or two tweets, but make them relevant and informative – nobody really cares that you made your bed this morning.  Find people in your industry to follow and read their tweets and blogs.  Get involved!  Likewise with LinkedIn – use it.  If you get promoted or take some training or earn a degree, make sure you update your LinkedIn profile.  Reach to friend, co-workers and former co-workers to add them to your contacts list. Here’s a simple acid test for you…all other things being equal, would you think a Salesperson with 500+ contacts on LinkedIn or somebody with only 24 would be more successful?

Facebook can be just as important as the others – they can also do a lot of damage.  I can tell you that I personally know of several hiring managers that will search Facebook when considering resumes.  If you have a Facebook account, keep this in mind.  Keep it clean and professional or keep it private.  If the hiring manager sees that you like to practice voodoo on Thursday evenings with the local crowd, that may (or may not) affect his decision to call you.  I’m just sayin’….

Join an industry organization.  Although not really “social networking” in and of itself, this is something you should be doing as it will expose you to the thought leaders in your industry and also allows you to add to your resume, reflecting that you are interested in learning from leaders and staying involved in the industry – two key points any hiring manager will be happy to see.

To recap – go to Twitter and create a profile. Since you are in sales you will want to use your name.  For example, my twitter account is simply “perryhurtt”.  You are building your own personal brand that you will want to follow you anywhere forever, so I would highly recommend using your name.  As a part of your Twitter profile you are able to input a web site. If you have a blogging site or other personal web page (highly recommended) then you should use that.  If you don’t, you should use the web page that reflects the dealership you are working at.  As a final point of interest for your twitter profile, upload a good picture of yourself – nobody wants to socialize with the default twitter image.   After that, go to www.linkedin.com and create a profile.  You can then link the two so updates from one will show up on the other.  Once on Twitter, do twitter searches to find other people that are involved in buying and selling cars. Contact these people and ensure they understand you are a resource they should be aware of. Communicate with them often, read their tweets, retweet if interesting.  If they have a blog or web page, visit it, read up on it and post links to it with positive comments.  You’re socializing here and you’re doing it on a very large scale.  Remember to think local though – getting worldwide friends is fun, but it won’t drive your sales.  You’ll want to regionalize a lot of what you do.

I have written a blog entry that discusses how to use twitter to search for a job.  Although you aren’t searching for a job, the basics of Twitter are explained in this blog and you may find it informative.  By the same token, a simple web search on twitter will reveal millions of other sites that explain how to use it.   So check out my blog entry on www.60KJobs.com, and then also do some more searching to get a more rounded view of how best to use twitter.

Overcoming “Buyer’s Remorse” via Social Networking.  Looking at the published statistics, it appears that most car sales are NOT based on any kind of social media interaction.  Of the Social Media methods that come into play, Facebook appears to have the lion’s share of the influence as shoppers ask their friends for input as well as visit business pages and talk to other buyers.  But even this, per a report published in 2011, accounts for only about 3% of eventual auto sales.  That being said, the market for social media is huge – too large to ignore, so what’s a good plan?  Consider if you will, your past customer.  There are very few reasons to explain why a customer does not go back to the same dealership for their next purchase – the primary reason most experts agree with is simple Buyer’s Remorse.  This is when a person makes a purchase and afterwards finds reason after reason to regret the decision.  The larger the purchase, the more intense the Buyer’s Remorse.  For a new or used vehicle, Buyer’s Remorse can be very intense indeed.    So if we agree on the number one reason for what should be a repeat customer not being a repeat customer, we should take steps to correct that situation – and this is perfectly suited for Social Media.  My point here is that Social Media is a great tool for post-sales communication to ensure the customer is happy, there are no lingering problems, etc, etc.  This is also used to maintain periodic contact with the customer over a number of years – far more suitable than a phone call.  It’s also a fantastic way to let your past customers know if you change dealerships so they know where to find you to buy their next vehicle.  So when this past customer is ready to buy or lease again, and you’ve maintained contact, you’ve dramatically increased the chances of them returning to you…as well as them referring business to you in the interim.  So exactly what method should you use?  The secret is to find out what your customer uses and then follow suit.  If they use Twitter…keep in touch via Twitter.  If they have a facebook page, ask for friendship status and then be very invisible…do not “sell” on their page but rather keep in touch via private messages.  You get the idea – tailor your future communications to whatever they use and then follow up…consistently.  But do not pollute their front pages with sales messages or your friendship status, and your repeat business, will suffer greatly.  Keep in touch in the background – if you’re good enough they’ll promote you without needing to be asked.

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Chapter 5 – The Process

Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.
-Jackson Brown-

NOW HIRING!!  No experience necessary. Will Train.  Benefits include Health, Dental, 401K.  Work in a layoff proof industry in car sales

-Advertisement in every newspaper in every city on every day-

Every dealership will handle the actual car buying process differently and this process will be drilled into you during your initial training and every day thereafter.  Given this, the information that follows is not dealership specific, but rather general processes, recommendations and observations that can elevate you above the average salesperson.

Build Rapport

Without some rapport between you and your prospective buyer, you will fail.  People prefer to buy from those they have a connection with and feel they can trust…and sometimes even like. You will sell very, very few vehicles to people you do not build rapport with – so it only makes sense to take this seriously and work on it.  If you’re a stand-offish kind of person, then you’ll have to make some personal changes to be a successful auto salesperson.  When dealing with your customers, don’t try to “sell” too fast.  Ask some questions and just…talk.  Get to know them a bit, get an idea of what they’re looking for and why.  What are their reasons for buying and, therefore, what type of vehicle should you be showing them?   Get them talking by being conversational and asking open ended questions.  Don’t ask “do you like this car”, instead ask “what do you like about this car?” The first question leads to a yes/no answer while the second leads to more of a conversational answer.

Show off your dealership.

This will be dependent on the type of place you find yourself working, but if you’re at a larger dealership with a service department, parts department or nice customer lounges, make sure you take your potential buyer on a tour so they can get a feeling for the permanency of the dealership as well as that post-sales capabilities they may want to take advantage of at a later date.  And of course, ensure they are introduced to as many people as possible.  The idea is to show value beyond the car they are considering.  You want them to see value in the car, the dealership, the employees and, of course, you.

Test Drive

Most sales are cemented during the test drive.  A potential customer becomes a buying customer somewhere on the road in the vehicle they are considering.  There is even a method to the test drive you should consider, but as always you should defer to the dealership specific process if they are different.  It’s normally a good idea for you to start out driving, pointing out the features and showing a lot of enthusiasm.  At the halfway point, pull over into a parking lot and have everybody get out.  Now is the time to allow the customer to really check the vehicle out away from the dealership.  Pop the hood, rev the engine, whatever.  An interesting twist to this method is that the brand new car will always look great in a parking lot with a few other cars as a backdrop.  Remember that your enthusiasm during this time as well as all other times is contagious – and that’s something you should be using to your advantage at all times.  Lastly, remember the old saying about test drives:  “The feel of the wheel will seal the deal”.  It’s not necessarily always true, but a test drive is always a positive step.

Keep close to your customer without smothering them.  If you’ve ever bought a vehicle and during the process the salesperson you were working with left you alone for any reason for a prolonged period of time, you probably were a bit frustrated and it also gave you time to re-think what the heck you were doing.  Neither of these are mindsets you want your customer to experience, so stay close to them and keep them engaged.  Keep the amount of time you are running back and forth between the customers and your manager to an absolute minimum.  Make sure they always have a drink at hand (coffee or soda) and brochures to look through if you do need to leave.

Be sure the customer has selected the right vehicle.  Bear in mind what awaits your customer – they will meet with the F&I person at some point and this can be a painful process.  If they are truly enthusiastic about the vehicle you are selling to them, then they can make it through the F&I process intact.  If there are doubts, they will surface and can break the deal.  Are they saying they are “ok” with the vehicle or are they saying they love it and can’t wait to show their friends?  What’s your gut feeling?  If you feel they are not completely in love with the vehicle, then it’s in your best interest…indeed it’s your job…to show them more vehicles until they feel that way.

Sold or walked?

Every effort – every “up” you deal with…every prospective buyer will leave your lot in one of three ways.  They will either drive off in a new vehicle you just sold them, or they’ll drive off in the vehicle they came in and tell you they’ll “be back”, or they’ll just drive off and you won”t hear from them again.  The last two are very similar and it’s entirely up to you to turn a “beback” into a viable potential customer.  A small percentage of your sales will come from beback’s, but it’s important to understand that it is a percentage worth shooting for.  It’s not bad practice to lump your bebacks into the same category as your successfully sold customers and referrals for future follow up.  Bear in mind that your bebacks are often somebody else’s bebacks also – they are shopping around and can’t find what they are looking for.  But they will eventually buy and so it makes sense to maintain contact and be there when their decision to buy is acted on.

Spare time?

Spare time is tough to come by, but there will be enough of it so you can put it to good use.  In fact there will be days when it seems like you’re doing nothing for hours on end.  If you spend this time shooting the breeze with the other salespeople, then you are wasting this valuable time.  Instead you should be taking advantage of this time to better your knowledge and skills – just don’t wander too far away from the lot and miss your next “up” in the process.  A few things you should be doing

  • Looking over the new models that have come in to familiarize yourself with them
  • Read trade articles – usually can be found in the customer lounges
  • Get familiar with vehicle review sites to see what other people and the industry experts are saying about the vehicles you are selling
  •  Become very familiar with your manufacturer and dealership website so when customers refer to something they have seen on these sites you’ll be able to talk intelligently about it.
  • Role playing with other salespeople

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Chapter 6 – Getting Hired

If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing,
and always put the customer first, success will be yours.
-Ray Kroc-

Success is 99% failure.
– Soichiro Honda-

There are various ways to get hired as an Auto Salesperson.  A dealership might be looking for only a single person, or maybe two or three, or a larger dealership may be looking to hire a group all at the same time. You’ll have to feel your way along depending on what type of hiring situation you encounter.  Below are a couple of circumstances you may find yourself in.

  • Single hire:  This is the standard “job hunting” situation where you go to the dealership, ask if they’re hiring, and you’re told to fill out the app.  This can result in immediate interviews with various people at the dealership, or it could be a “we’ll call you back” situation.  This is very much like any other jog hunt – go to the interviews, aim to impress, follow up, lather rinse repeat until you land a position.
  • Group hire:  Occasionally, larger dealerships will post advertisements for open sales positions and gather as many as 20 respondents.  Once they are selected, they will be put through a few days of training, interviews and observations with the goal of forming a team of maybe only 4-6 salespeople.  After the attrition, this group will be hired to work together in a specific capacity at the dealership.

Regardless of the method used, the good news is that getting hired as a Salesperson is the easy part since there are so many dealerships and so much turnover.  The hard part is proving yourself, toughing it out, and making the big bucks.  If you find yourself going through a series of interviews without getting hired, keep a logbook of questions you are asked and other parts of the hiring process (trainings, meet-and-greets, etc) that have taken place to ensure you are able to reflect and improve.

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Chapter 7 – Your personal 90 day schedule

Do not wait; the time will never be ”just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
– Napoleon Hill

To succeed in sales, simply talk to lots of people every day.  And here’s what’s exciting – there are lots of people

-Jim Rohn-

Here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  This entire book has been devoted to getting you ready to make some serious money in a fairly short amount of time.  To that end, I have laid out a schedule from which you should greatly benefit.  Obviously, I don’t know what your personal day-to-day schedule is like, so this is merely a template that can and should be altered to your situation.  This schedule will be broken up week by week, for a total of 13 weeks.  By following this schedule, or a reasonable alternative, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to achieve the goal as stated in the title of this book.  Please bear in mind that this will not be a “walk in the park”, it will require work on your part, a lot of work.  You will be required to do some things that will make you uncomfortable at first, but like anything else will become easier with practice and execution.

There is a very strong focus on Social Networking below for several reasons:

  • The more people you know, the more you are exposed to the job market
  • Community awareness – you should spend a lot of time focusing on local networking so you get to know local places and people
  • Building a following – again, based on local Social Networking, as you build up your online friends, you can invite them to “come by and take a test drive”.
  • Building your “Brand” – you may want to start your own business one day.

There is also a very strong commitment to personal development since, as a salesperson, you must have the right attitude and mindset to be successful.  There are books in the schedule below that should be read to fully embrace the job as salesperson.  You will surely receive some training at the dealership but to really stand out and be highly successful you must go the extra mile and perform a lot of self-study.

Here goes…

Week 1

  • Watch “Glengarry Glen Ross”.  Yeah, I know…I said that before but you might have skipped over it and came straight to the 90 day schedule.
  • Join Twitter
  • Find 20 people in your industry to follow.
  • Read their tweets  and re-tweet when you find something of particular interest
  • Research the use of hash tags and twitter search.
  • Join LinkedIn
  • Fill out your work history and other requested info – the more you fill out the better
  • Add at least 20 names to your contact list.
  • Consider starting your own blog.  It’s free and easy
  • Go to www.wordpress.com and sign up
  • There is also a wordpress.org site that is used to actually download wordpress for hosting and whatnot – this isn’t the site you necessarily want.
  • Create a profile (seeing a trend here?)
  • Find topics that are timely and relevant and let the world know what you think.
  • Make sure your Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress profiles all reference each other.
  • Clean up your Facebook or MySpace pages to ensure that anybody that searches for you won’t stumble onto anything negative

Buy and read two books:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  This is the classic book of people skills…time tested and proven to be the best of it’s kind.  A must read.
  • How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.  This book takes awhile to get through and covers just about every aspect of sales you can imagine…this is the true Sales Bible.  The sections on closing are worth the price.

Spend some time considering which dealerships to apply to.  Most dealerships are receptive to walk-ins applying for jobs and many dealership, conveniently enough, are close together so that gives you the ability to apply at many places in a short amount of time.

Week 2

  • Add another 20 names (at least) to those you follow on Twitter
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • Visit at least one car dealership – preferably one you do not intend to apply to.  This will be awkward since you know you’re not going to buy-consider it a necessary evil.  If you have the means to do so, head to another nearby town.  Go onto the lot, kick the tires, maybe take a test drive, ask a lot of questions.  Be a “buyer”, but also be a “be back” since you have no intention of buying. Here’s the rub – you have to do this in such a way as to not eat up any of the salespeople’s entire day since you know they won’t be making any money off of you.  This is a necessary evil – you have to test the waters and see how others do it.  Listen not only to what the salesperson is saying, but also to what others are saying on the lot.  Observe the relationships between the salespeople.  If you are brought into the building to talk with a manager or assistant manager, take careful note of how you’re treated and the questions you are asked.  Take in as much as possible while you’re on the lot but again, don’t take up too much time – be respectful of the salesperson’s need to actually make money and when you get right down to it, you are really wasting his time.  After you’re done with the visit, write down what you learned in a logbook – keep the logbook handy as you’ll be doing this again.

Buy and read two more books:

  • Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer.  This small-ish book is a quick read but will become a handy reference and reminder that is easy to carry along with you.  Great book…highly recommended
  • Selling 101 by Zig Ziglar.  This is a quick read with lots of great info.  Zig always comes through!

Week 3

  • Add another 20 names (at least) to those you follow on Twitter
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • One or two more visits to local dealerships – remember to update your logbook.

Buy and read two more books (these are the last two for the 90 day schedule). There are more recommended near the end of this book

  • The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino.  Og’s work is unknown by most casual readers but those who study self-improvement understand his work to be among the absolute best.
  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.  This book is short enough to be read in an hour or so, but is powerful enough to have launched entire self-improvement movements since it was published.

Week 4

  • Add another 20 names (at least) to those you follow on Twitter
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • Visit another one or two local dealerships – again, pay attention to how you’re greeted and treated.  Put yourself into the mindset of an actual buyer and take note of things that you like and dislike.
  • Start on your resume.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll do it again-be honest!  Don’t feel like you need to embellish to get a job.  Explaining on your resume that you have taught yourself is not a bad thing.  It will get your foot in the door, and given the chance, you will be able to show what you know.  For example, if you’ve been working at McDonalds for the last 5 years, say that on the resume!  It shows job stability-it also shows that you are used to barely “getting by”.  Be sure to highlight any customer service or sales related positions you may have had in the past, regardless of if they seem insignificant to you.

Week 5

  • Add another 20 names (at least) to those you follow on Twitter
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • You’re a month into the process – you should have an idea of which dealerships you will be applying to.  Go ahead and apply – get the ball rolling.

Week 6

You should be following about 100 people on Twitter now.  Getting the hang of it?

  • Start getting to know some of these people closer.  Follow their posts more closely, look at their profiles to see if they have a website or blog and visit that.
  • Try to get to the point where you are familiar enough with 5 of these contacts that you exchange emails and actively work to promote each other.
  • If you have 100 contacts on your LinkedIn contact list now, great work.  Keep meeting people, doing the research and adding as you can.  You are shooting for the “500+” mark.
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • You have 5 entries there now? One per week is good, two would be better but it’s best to sacrifice quality for quantity here.  Don’t create crap – make it worth your reader’s time.
  • Do you have anybody subscribing to your blog yet?  Any active followers?  Don’t get discouraged, this can take some time but in the end it’s well worth it.
  • Hopefully you found a job at a dealership last week. If not, continue the search – you should be able to get hired fairly quickly.
  • Once you get the job, you will be told how you’re being paid.  Once you find out that information, assume a 10:1 ratio of closing and then figure out how many “ups” you need to talk to in order to reach $5K per month.  Once you have that number broken down by day, you know exactly what you need to do.
  • Pay close attention to what the top salespeople on your lot do, how they greet customers, how they interact, how they work with the managers, etc.  Do  not consider idle time as wasted time – use it to study those that are doing well.

Week 7

  • Continue to get closer to a select few Twitter followers and followees.
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress – your new job might be a good topic.  Talk about how you feel, what happened on the lot, any “ups” you had and any deals you closed (do not disclose any personal info of customers, of course).

Week 8

  • Continue to get closer to a select few Twitter followers and followees.
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • You’ve been hired for at least two weeks now, which might make you a veteran on the lot, depending on the dealership…or you might still be called a “green pea”.  Regardless, you should have some experience with meeting “ups” and dealing with them.  Keep your logbook updated with your numbers and anything you have learned.
  • As mentioned last week, be sure you spend you idle time watching and learning from the veterans…if the veterans are actually getting paid.  If they are deadbeat veterans, then find somebody else to watch.

Week 9

  • Continue to get closer to a select few Twitter followers and followees.
  • Add another 20 names (at least) to your LinkedIn contacts
  • One more blog entry on WordPress
  • Three weeks at the same dealership – take a hard look at how you’re doing, how you think you’ll be doing in the coming months if you decide to stay, and then make a decision. If you feel the likelihood of making your income goal is good where you are, then by all means you should stay.  However, if you feel you cannot make it for any reason you should consider looking for another dealership to work at.  Now that you have gotten your feet wet, you’ll be better equipped to analyze the dealerships, their pay structures, and their customer flow.  A common question you’ll be asked when applying is why you are looking for work already.  A pretty easy answer is simply that you don’t feel you’ll be able to meet your goals at the old place so you are looking for a new place to work that will offer you greater challenges and opportunity.

Week 10

  • Start digging to some prospective companies that you might want to work at with Twitter.  Use the twitter search to find people that are associated with those companies and being building a relationship with them.
  • On LinkedIn, continue adding names but also so some research on prospective companies.
  • One more blog entry on WordPress – anybody paying attention yet?  Even if not, don’t be discouraged.  You are establishing your online presence and it can take some time.  The point is that keeping at it day after day, week after week, for months and even years on end will eventually provide you with a great back drop of the work you have done and also be readily available to any customer or potential hiring dealership to check you out.  So keep updating it.

Week 11

  • Nearing the end – the basics should all be making sense now.
  • Continue the Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress efforts – these should continue after this 13 week program is ended.
  • Spend some time trying to figure out how the F&I guy at your dealership works.  If there is more than one, spend time with each as much as possible. This is where “real money” is made and if you are suited to this type of work it is a good goal to have.  But, you have to “get it”…you have to have a solid understanding of the entire business operation as well as the specifics of the vehicles and all of the options and financing matters that can be used.  This is the knowledge role of the lot – definitely not “unskilled” labor.

Week 12

  • Since you now have so many Twitter and LinkedIn friends and contacts, start working those lists to uncover people that might be looking to buy a vehicle.  Hopefully you have advanced at least a few of these relationships to the point where you can ask a question such as “are you, or anybody you know, in the market for a new vehicle?”
  • Work your lists in such a way as to be unobtrusive – don’t badger anybody.  Keep detailed logs of who you contacted and when to ensure you don’t contact anybody too often and that you know when it’s time to contact them again.

Week 13

Well, as anything else you’ve ever done that’s worthwhile, I know it wasn’t easy.  If you’ve followed the provided outline, and didn’t cheat, you should see a new career unfolding in front of you-congratulations.

  • Evaluate what you’ve done these past three months, what you’re learned and what you’ve earned.  You have a decision to make – is this the life for you?  It’s not for everybody so it’s important that you ask yourself that question at some point and now is as good of a time as any.  Are you a Salesperson?  Can you spend the time and effort to become a very good salesperson?  Can your family survive while you do?  Can you support your family on this income?  You need to ask yourself hard questions – and when you have the answers, make a decision and jump into it with both feet and a 100% positive mental attitude.

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