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Use a Car Salesman’s Techniques to Succeed in Your Career

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hotshot businessman with car

Picture this: a mass of salesmen, in their starched white shirts and tacky bright-colored ties, flocks to you as soon as you pull into the lot. They’re like zombies on the attack, hungry for your cash rather than your intellect.

Although the common perception of car salesmen is less than positive, it’s important to remember that often they’re quite successful. With no guaranteed income, they need to work diligently to earn their commissions. They’re always hustling, and it shows. But when you can anticipate a regular paycheck, how can you push yourself to invest a similar level of effort?

Here are a few tips from the dealership that will help you succeed in your career without earning a bad rap:

Dress for success

While you might be tempted to make fun of the salesmen in suits trying to offload used cars, you have to admit that those guys do look nice.

Consider the songs that laud the benefits of wearing a quality suit, like “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top or “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake. Start wearing crisp dress pants instead of worn khakis, and you’ll notice that you have more confidence and poise. Remember, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Do an attitude check

There’s no need to become an arrogant jerk, but start carrying yourself more confidently. People will notice when you feel good and are comfortable in your own shoes. Don’t go too far; if you’re too cocky, they’ll have a much harder time taking you and your ideas seriously.

Be friendly, confident and, most importantly, genuine. Practice your pitches, but don’t turn them into a canned spiel. Whenever you pass out cards, make calls or prep for a major presentation, be bold and remember that no one can do your job quite like you can.

Prospecting isn’t just for gold diggers

Everyone that you come across, from relatives to the mailman, is a potential client. Car salesmen are diligent in passing out their cards to everyone they come in contact with. While this might seem a bit much, it does nothing but help their careers.

For example, at our company Easterns Automotive, sales team members have unlimited business cards and regularly compete to see who can pass out the most. You never know where your next customer is going to come from. Your grocery store checkout clerk could stroll into your office next week because she happened to have your contact info.

Learn everything about what you’re selling

This tip is applicable even if what you’re selling is yourself. Make sure you never find yourself in the embarrassing position of being unable to answer important questions. Learn more about your company and spend time preparing yourself for a variety of questions that are likely to be thrown your way. You’ll be a lot more confident with a broad knowledge base concerning your company, and it’ll be easier to hold your own in conversations with prospective clients.

Even after all your preparation, what if you don’t have the right answer? Don’t panic; just say that you’ll find the answer and get back in touch with the person soon.

Never let ’em see you sweat

It’s impossible to successfully sign every prospect that you meet. In the car sales world, there are plenty of days when your manager threatens to cut you a pink slip if goals are not met. However, salesmen still have to keep their cool when talking with their next customer.

While the pressure to close the deal can make some days a lot rougher than others, never let your emotions affect how you communicate with your clients. Maintaining a calm, cool demeanor will get you much further than begging will.

Studying car salesmen in their working environment makes it clear that their strategies for success translate well to any industry. Borrow their tactics and use them to succeed in your own career—without the tacky tie.

Thad Baker works with Easterns Automotive Group, a quality used car dealer in Maryland and Virginia. He enjoys writing about anything related to cars and the automotive industry.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • CareerShift

    Thad, this is great. Another tip: Be personable. Many car salesmen are successful because they understand how to talk and cater to their target market. Understand the personalities within your dream organization, tailor your responses to them, and be as engaging as possible. You’ll likely find a more positive reaction this way.

    • Thad Baker

      I completely agree. Understanding who you are talking to and catering to them is key to effective communication in any career. Thanks for the input!

  • jennifer grenjer

    While buying a car, you need to do what you want to not what the salesman want you to do. They just target the goal of making money out of your pocket. You have to think about your need and interest. Meet the best dealers at http://www.woodstockmotors.co.uk/

  • Sherry

    Jennifer, in any sales career there will be those who only want the quick buck however the majority want repeat and referral business and this ONLY happens when the client knows the decision they made along with the terms was theirs to make. Long gone are the consumers who are willing to be snowed by a professional shark. ~Sherry (REALTOR)

  • James Thompson

    This is a great article! It kind of reminds me of one I ran into the other day, that was at a slightly different angle. It was actually pretty informative and insightful, just in an indirect way. It was about how to be a used car salesmen, which I think no one wants to be that stereotype.