Six years later sales is sill a tough racket

This is a follow up to my first blog post.


I have been in the business for 6 years now. I think I have learned a lot about the business and people.
When I started selling it was an eye opener to me how people act at a car dealer. I was such a lay down compared to the people who came in to buy from me. I never had the guts to talk to anyone the way people talk to me. You would think sales is a profession yet people do not treat a car salesman like a professional. In fact the management at many dealerships do not treat the salesman as a pro.
In the short time I have been selling I have seen my share of changes in the industry. The internet part of car sales was and is still in its infancy. Many dealers did not have a website in 2003. The big three's problems have well documented. Many stores have gone to desking. What amazes me is the everyday banter between the management and sales team. There are not many jobs where your boss will call you names and use the worst possible language possible on a daily bases. Some of these managers have a talent for shifting gears between a polite nice guy to the customer and an outright jerk to the salesman. In sales you need to be able to communicate but as these guys climb the ladder to sales managers the lose that skill. They are so short with salesman very economical with their words. I have been told that besides Major league baseball and the NBA car sales may be the highest paying gig you can get without an education.
The typical salesman receives very little training. There is nothing to prepare you for the first time a Manager calls you a week #@%*! Just when you get over that a customer will call you something worse. So here I am as a salesman trying to sell my customer and my desk at the same time. My Customer is looking at a $20,000 vehicle and wants to be under $300 a month with zero down. The desk manager says to "hit him at $750 per month with $2000 down and don't let him leave." They sit up on their throne and throw out ridiculous scenarios that they would never think of presenting themselves. Here I am the only realistic one of the three in this situation yet the other two think I am a big idiot. The managers were once salesman so they went through the same initiation we go through I guess. When a salesman is promoted to sales manager there is not much training involved just thrown to the wolves all over again.
All of the manufacturers sales are down between 30 and 50% yet the manager will blame the drop in sales at the dealership on the sales crew for not making phone calls prospecting and just being plain old negative. They usually will hold a meeting to inform the sales crew how much they suck and then a vendor will walk in to sell something. The Sales manager will stop the meeting long enough to tell the vendor to "get the F out of here I am not interested didn't I hang up on you yesterday?" Then he will go on to tell the sales crew to "make phone calls and get out and prospect."
Now on the evening news they are talking about the impending collapse of the big three every night. The customers are like sharks they see blood in the water. They want half off of everything they remind me that "GM is in trouble you better give me what I want or I will buy a Toyota." With these hard times the dealership has fired anyone who draws a salary. All the lot kids are gone. Any support a salesman had is gone. Salesman are expected to pick up the slack. A salesman sells a car but now instead of endorsing the back end he has to gas the car up and bring it to the wash crew. If it was not in stock he may have been the one who drove 50 miles to get it on a dealer trade. During all of this he must maintain control of the customer and take the blame when the business manager could not sell a warranty. The managers hope the salesman doesn't realize he can get a $100 bird dog fee from the other dealer and just send the customer to them. One phone call and its a mini without the aggravation.
There are many different vendors on this site and I would guess they are doing what they are doing because they were great sales people and moved on. I will be the next to move on someday but as of right now despite of everything I love coming to work everyday! I must be crazy...

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Comment by Stanley N Esposito on May 19, 2009 at 10:37pm
My dealership sold twice as many Chevys as the closest competitor in our zone. I was giving examples over a six year period. Thhe problem is GM stopped paying spins and we are selling less cars per month so it is hard to hit certain bonus levels. Our income is down across the board.
Comment by Tom White Jr. on May 19, 2009 at 9:25pm
WOW!!! Sounds like you need to find another Dealership and NOT necessarily another career. While the experiences you have documented can and do happen at many dealerships, I would respectfully submit that there are dealerships out there that treat BOTH their customers/clients/guests AND their employees with dignity and respect.

Before giving up on a great career and moving to the vendor ranks (which isn't all its cut up to be), why not do some checking in your market to find a dealer with high CSI, repeat and referral business, etc. Believe me, they are in your market, and you probably already know who they are (read the guys and gals kicking your dealership's ass in sales).

The fact that you still "love coming to work" at a place that is questionable says a lot about your attitude. A positive attitude will sell you more cars than product knowledge or skill anyday. Take your positive attitude and go find a place you would REALLY LOVE to go to work at.

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