Car Salespeople Today

November 17, 2009

Something has been on my mind lately as the automotive industry struggles to get back on its feet.

Is the veteran car salesman leaving the business?

As I visit my dealerships on my usual rounds, and others to sell my products to, I see more and more seasoned automotive professionals looking for something else to do. I know, we’ve seen this before and they seem to always come back, but I wonder of this time many might stick to their words. Now, I’m not talking about the management level. Just the guys on the sales floor.

What could this mean for the managers? Does this mean they will have to work harder for each deal as the less experienced sales people may not know how to bring deals to the desk before getting a pencil? How many times will the manager have to ask, “Did you get a commitment?” How many times will the manager find that the price the customer’s committed to is $2000 under cost? What will they do? How many deals like this can a manager stand?

I remember reading a blog somewhere about going back to the basics where someone commented, “If you’re going back to the basics, you might as well just get out of the business.” I disagree. We always have to STICK TO the basics in this business. We must keep things simple to make deals. It’s not that we have to get back the basics, it’s that we must always stick with the basics. As soon as we get away from them, we lose sales.

Does your dealership have a great sales trainer to keep these basics in the front of your sales team’s minds? Do you give your salespeople ALL the information they need so they can bring deals to the desk BEFORE the pencil? Do you teach your sales people how to effectively communicate so the customer does not feel like they are fighting for a good deal?

In my opinion, these elements are the key to having a successful sales team or not.

The dealership I want to work for has the success of the salesperson in mind. This starts with the basics. If we start there, we will always sell more cars than the competition.



  1. Doug, that was an awesome blog!!! You are right. We all need to get back to the basic’s to keep our sales trend throughout the YEAR. Tks Again…..

  2. Doug-

    Thanks for the invite on the blog. If dealers could just follow your advice and stay focused on the basics, 90% of thier problems would go away. Too many of my clients seem to be fixated on the next greatest “shiny object” that is going to cause thier business to explode. They never seem to find it. The clients we have who stay focused on thier own people and processes while they are looking for new and creative ways to drive traffic into thier showrooms are the ones who have not only survived this storm, but have thrived. It never ceases to amaze me that some dealers will spend $50K a month on advertising without spending $500 a month on training his/her people.

    I look foeward to your future blogs!

    Thayne Harrison, The Sales Academy

  3. I agree with one exception, if the basics you are practicing are basically wrong. I find some veteran salespeople end up with one year of experience repeated 10 times. The old expression, “practice makes perfect” is false… practice only makes permanent, it doesn’t necessarily have a direct effect on perfection. So it’s critically important to examine the things being practiced for ways to update, improve or , sometimes, quit doing all together!

    Thanks for the blog.

    • Thank you for bringing that up. I agree. Your process has to be the right one. Sometimes that means that one salesperson could have a slightly different one than another even within the same store. No one process works for every salesperson.

  4. Doug,

    Congrats on your new effort here with WordPress… Great start. Looking forward to seeing your creativeness with digital (photo / editing) efforts. Like your header.


    • Thank you David.

  5. Hey Doug!

    Great Post. It never ceases to amaze me dealers forget the people on the front line are the ones that put the rubber on the road. It seems the basics these days are beat up the salespeople, not train them and make sure they are ready for the customer.

    Thayne mentioned the next “shiny object” paradigm that exists in the car business. What most forget the items that should shine the most are the well trained salespeople. All the advertising in the world is wasted money without trained people on the ground ready to do the job. Us advertising people can only get buyers to the lots, if there is only salespeople that are demoralized, beat up and following a flawed process, then all the ad money is wasted.

    Being in this business as long as I have ( not as long as you though, Doug!) I hate seeing the talent bailing. But then again as one dealer told me not long ago, there are 20 out there to replace them. that statement says much in itself.

    Thanks for the great blog and good luck. Can’t wait to read more in the future

  6. Quick note to Mike Meadows. your link to your website is dead because you have a comma instead of a period in your link. click on your name from your comment above to see what I mean.

    • Hey Jonathan,

      Thanks for the heads up. I know better than to type without glasses on.


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