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What Skills Do I Need to Become a Car Salesman?

Alex Tree
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A car salesman needs to know a lot about both people and cars. To become a car salesman, you need to be persuasive when it comes to selling things, know how to deal with uncomfortable situations, and take a customer’s feelings and financial concerns into mind. For some people, the easiest part of being a car salesman is selling cars. It can be a bit more difficult to deal with questionable company policies and talking customers into upgrades they did not plan on. Lastly, the best car salesmen knows how to listen to a customer and take his or her suggestions, financial situation and concerns into account when choosing a car.

To become a car salesman, you need to know how to sell things, and not just anything, but expensive things people expect to keep for years. The best way to start is to figure out what the customer wants in a car. Learn to ask open-ended questions like, “What kind of car do you have in mind?” rather than, “Do you like sports cars?” An open-ended question cannot be answered with a yes or no, usually leading the customer into a longer conversation. The more you know about a person and his or her wants in a car, the more you can steer him or her in the right direction.

There are a lot of disreputable car dealerships with questionable tactics. Your place of work is up to you, but know that you might deal with uncomfortable situations no matter how honorable the dealership is. To become a car salesman, you need to put money first; no one but the customer will be happy if you repeatedly give customers great deals that do not benefit the dealership or yourself much, if at all. You will need the skills to persuade customers into upgrading, buying add-ons, and more. In addition, in some cases you may have to deal with customers who cannot afford even the best deal you have.

To become a car salesman, you must find a balance between taking the lead and letting the customer do the talking and decision-making. On one hand, potential customers can easily talk themselves out of a car they can afford and might never consider upgrades they would genuinely enjoy. If a car salesman becomes too pushy, however, customers usually shut down and get annoyed. They stop talking about their wants and concerns and instead start feeling bossed around and might even leave rather than buy a car. The best car salesman knows when to talk and when to listen.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and Practical Adult Insights contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon338129 — On Jun 11, 2013

This is the exact opposite of what normally takes place at a car dealership. Frequently, car salespeople don’t want to talk about prices and especially don’t want to talk about financing before they’ve gotten you into a test drive. This is simply because as a part of the selling process, they want you to be at an emotional peak when it comes time to discuss numbers and rates.

By summing — On Apr 28, 2012

I have thought about becoming a car salesman but I have heard that the money is not as good as you would expect. What is the average car salesman salary? I am sure that like most sales jobs there is a commission element to it, but there has to be some kind of average that can give me a sense of what I might make.

By jonrss — On Apr 27, 2012

My father once told me that to become a successful car salesman you had to have a nice smile. I know it sounds kind of weird or corny but I think there is some truth to it. And he would know. He was a car salesman for twenty years and was something of a local legend.

For most people, buying a new car is a fun exciting experience. If the salesman seems to be sharing in that fun and enthusiasm it enhances the experience. You want the car salesman to be just as excited about that car as you are. Car sales is a lot about having a big convincing grin.

By chivebasil — On Apr 27, 2012

Lots of people think that the most important skill for a car salesman to have is to be charismatic and convincing. They think that the salesmanship is everything. And it is for sure but just is important is being knowledgeable about the cars you are selling.

The best car salesman can give an honest informed answer to any question about any car at any time. You need to be an encyclopedia about the cars on your lot. It is an important part of customer service and looking knowledgeable makes you seem more intelligent and trustworthy which is all a part of salesmanship.

Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and Practical Adult Insights contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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