Aaron Widmar
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On the Job: What Is It Like Being a Car Salesperson?

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car salesman on the job at a dealership selling cars to a shopper in a vehicle

Car salespeople typically get a bad rap in media and pop culture, yet most car dealerships aren’t starving for applicants. Why are many people drawn to being car salesperson, and what does the job involve? Here’s a general overview of what it’s like being in this role in case you’re interested in applying for a job.

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Requirements for being a car salesperson

One of the main draws of becoming a car salesperson is the lack of requirements when it comes to education and prior experience. A career as a car salesperson doesn’t usually require a degree unless that particular dealership expects it. If you have a high school diploma, people skills, and a drive to succeed, that’s typically enough to make you a strong candidate for hiring.

If you get the position at the dealership, you’ll be trained on the job, receiving guidance on sales techniques, the brands you sell, and the auto industry overall. If you have a degree, that’s great, but it probably won’t benefit you on a daily basis.

The financial benefits of selling cars

The annual salary of a car salesperson differs vastly due to factors such as tenure, the price/prestige of the vehicles being sold, the amount paid in commission per sale, the number of vehicles you sell, and the cost of living in the area. 

According to estimates by Jason Lancaster of AcurateAutoAdvice.com in an article for the Huffington Post, the average car salesperson makes about $40,000 each year, which includes about $250-$300 commission per vehicle sale. If you sell a lot of cars, far exceeding your quota, you could make $60,000 or more, and the dealership might even increase your commission rate. That’s not bad for a job that doesn’t require a degree or physical labor!

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An average day at a dealership

The job generally requires 40-50 hours of work a week, often involving nights and weekends, and the average quota requires employees to sell around 8-12 cars per month, depending on the size of the inventory and dealer expectations. Thus, an average day involves either following up on leads or working with walk-in prospects that will hopefully lead to signed deals.

The stress of the environment depends a lot on how the managers treat you and the environment fostered in the dealership. If managers are supportive and encouraging, it can be an exciting place to work, but if managers are critical and fellow coworkers are ruthless, it can be a challenging job (for an honest summary of an average day, check out this article on Auto Cheat Sheet).

It takes fortitude to maintain a smile and courteousness after spending hours on test drives with a potential customer who ends up not buying a car. Otherwise, you may burn bridges that could hinder your sales success in the future. You must be positive and resolute to be successful as a salesperson.

If you’re interested in getting experience in a sales position but aren’t sure what you want to do exactly, being a car salesperson is a good place to start. You might end up loving it, but even if it’s a rough experience that only lasts a year, you’ll still walk away with valuable sales experience and a better understanding of your strengths.