Car Sales Training – An Overview of the Career9 min read

Cars sales is a high risk, high reward career path. Without adequate car sales training you’ll miss out on the incredible potential this career path has.

Note on pay estimates: All numbers are based on working in a major metropolitan area. If you are in a small or medium sized town the numbers are generally scaled with cost of living.

I’ve spent the last 6 years perfecting a process that works. This car sales training will help you get going. This article is an overview and background of getting started in the car business.

Being a car salesperson involves guiding customers through the buying process. You need to be educated on the product that you sell and (more importantly) you need to know how to optimize the process of the sale.

I learnt the “steps to a sale” in a few minutes my first day. We will cover that in another post. For now let’s review why car sales might be a job worth pursuing.

The content on this site is going to focus on getting you a job and making you successful. If you follow the steps, take it day by day, you should be able to make a lot of money.

Picture using a tool to measure money - expectation setting is important for car sales training
How much are we talking?

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), there are over 1.1 million employees at new car dealerships. With an average income of $53k~ per year at new car dealerships, car sales can be very profitable.

As a side note, the “average” car salesperson? Pretty much the laziest person you’ve ever met. You will beat the average with the training on this site in the first few months (basically as soon as you learn the product that you are selling).

The income is certainly dependent on the area you work. In major metros there are a number of salespeople who make $100k their first year. I was one of those people! See why I’m passionate? There is money to be made!

There are more cars being sold than ever

A graph showing the growth of the industry and the need for you to get car sales training
More volume, more money…

 

Not only do many salespeople make good money, the good ones move up quickly too! Many dealerships have management staff that started in the same dealerships they manage. The industry is growing, so why don’t you hear more good things?

Public perception of the car sales industry is still very negative. According to a 2015 survey done by Autotrader, only 17 of 4,002 people surveyed liked the car sales process as it stands right now.

Now, while I don’t generally trust voluntary online surveys, this one is pretty damning!

So this is an industry in which you can make a lot of money and move up quickly, but with a public perception that is overall negative. When the public has a negative perception of an industry, people avoid it. This actually ends up being a good thing. Essentially, the less sexy the job description, the more you have to pay the employees to work there.

A necessary part of car sales training is understanding the key roles in a new car sales department

Floor Sales: The entry level position in which you “cut your teeth”. This is where you start day 1, and it is where you plant the seeds of the rest of your career

Picture of two people working a car sales deal
Working a deal (you won’t look this good doing it)

Floor salespeople work on the “sales floor” and take care of mostly walk in customers. You should expect to make $50k-$100k your first year if you follow the training and work at a decent dealer. I made $108k my first year in a major metro doing floor sales, but I worked my absolute tail off.

To start off, the car business has a growth structure built into it. “The floor” feeds directly into upper positions, and many of the corporate heads got their start at the bottom of the ladder.

Floor sales people are some of the hardest workers at the dealership. It’s where you are going to hone your skills, alternating between succeeding and failing. Pair your day to day life with the car sales training on this site and you will set yourself up for success.

Floor sales is also unofficially the proving grounds for management and upper positions at the dealership. After a year or two working the floor you will be making good money but will be lusting after the better jobs.

If you can work your ass off, be a top performer, and maintain strong relationships with your managers… you’re going to be in a good position to be picked for one of the more coveted spots.

Your first jump will probably land you in…

Internet Sales: You now handle internet traffic. Higher volume of customers that are typically harder to negotiate with successfully

Man working a car sales deal on the computer
You may look this good doing it…

Internet sales is when your income tends to sky rocket in car sales. Depending on the set up at your dealership, there are typically one to four internet salespeople.

When I transitioned to internet sales my annual income grew from $108k to $158k.

 

Handling internet traffic is very different from handling floor traffic, although there is some overlap. Instead of standing on the sales floor waiting for a good “up” (fresh customer) you will be sitting at a desk responding to online inquiries and sending out quotes.

Your job in internet sales becomes less product focused, as your customers are typically better versed in what they are inquiring about. Often times you will be handling customers that test drove at a different dealership and are now shopping for the best price.

Your job is going to be get those customers in to the store to buy, in masse, without losing too much profit for the sales department. Margins are lower, customers are flakier, and the competition is fierce.

There is so much money to be made in internet sales that many people stay in this position their entire career. There are salespeople in internet roles that make $300-400k/year. They have assistants that do all their test drives and handle mostly their own repeat business.

If one is successful in the internet department and grow sick of the car sales process they often try and move to…

Finance Manager: You guide customers through the DMV process at the end of the sale and sell aftermarket products

Finance manager filling out DMV paperwork
Lots and lots of paperwork in finance…

The finance department is a key profit center at the dealership. You will be selling intangible products such as warranties, maintenance packages and loans. These are high profit products (typically 20-30% at least) and are often more difficult to sell than the car itself.

Finance managers deal with a incredible volume of customers when compared to a floor or internet salesperson. Every single person that buys a car at a dealership will meet with the finance manager. On a busy saturday you may work with 10-15 customers in 10-12 hours.

That being said, finance managers don’t have the stress of deals hanging over their head when they go home. The deals they do are always 20-40 minutes and some come to them with products already pre-sold by the sales manager that negotiated the deal.

The work is hard, but the payoff is there. Finance managers typically make 8-15% of the profit of their products, which nets them anywhere from $120k-$250k/year.

If you work at a large dealership you may be able to have some weekends off, which is a huge bonus in this industry.

Finance managers are responsible for all the DMV paperwork, rebate paperwork , and loans paperwork being done correctly. This part is stressful, and have a keen eye for details will save you huge headaches.

After a successful run as an internet manager or finance manager you maybe tapped to be a…

Sales Manager: Recruit, train and manage a successful team of salespeople. Maintain their morale, protect dealership profits, handle angry customers and settle disputes

A group fist bump after a sales manager conducts some car sales training
Being a sales manager is nothing like a group fist bump

Sales managers (of which there are a few tiers at larger dealerships) are responsible for the sales department as a whole. They are the leaders of the salespeople, responsible for the work getting done and the employees being happy.

Some sales managers can be responsible for the training and managing of the BDC. The BDC is the “business development center” also known as a call center.

Transitioning from a individual contributor role to a sales manager role comes more naturally for some than others. The hours are long (you leave the dealership last when the very last deal is done) and the work involves having incredible patience.

You will have every angry customer at your desk, you hear every salesperson commission dispute and the GM of the store is going to hold you personally responsible for the gross profit and sales volume of the store.

Sales Manager income is very variable depending on what dealership you work at. Some GMs set up very aggressive pay plans, which in major metros can range from ~$120k-$300k per year. Some dealerships value the role less, and pay between ~$100k-$180k/year.

Sales managers have the title and prestige of being one of the main managers at their business. The promising ones are sent to trainings to teach them the accounting skills necessary to run a store of their own. If they do make it to the GM role they will make anywhere from $200k-$700k per year.

Being a sales manager is a goal for many sales people.

Setting you up for success: The need for Car Sales Training

Person at a laptop checking out the car sales training site
Time to study up!

Even the information listed above takes a while to learn when you are a new salesperson at a dealership. Over six years in this business I have watched the success and failure of people in each of the roles.

Customers realize that information is a key to getting a good deal on a new car purchase. You need to have information on how car dealerships work. That’s what this car sales training is going to do!

I’ve watched the best floor salespeople get looked over for promotions simply because they didn’t understand what to ask for. I’ve seen finance managers cycle out of fantastic jobs because they didn’t forsee the stresses of the job.

More than anything, I’ve seen many fresh car salespeople give up because of lack of training and guidance. They give up after six months never having seen any success, writing off the entire career path.

Car sales, specifically new car dealership sales, is a terrific way to make money without any huge prerequisites. No college degree needed, no rich friend referrals. This site will guide you through how to get a job, excel at that job, and move up.