David Slone | The New Breed of Automobile Sales Professional

David SloneRemember the days when car salesmen ranked right up there with lawyers? I must admit, there was a time when auto sales were close to the bottom of the barrel but times are changing! As in any profession, there are still bad apples and you still have to make sure you are dealing with a good sales person.

The adoption of the internet by the masses, more transparency from dealers, the tough economy and many other factors have forced car salesmen to step up their game or find a new profession.

In the past, the consumer was at a real disadvantage in many ways when it came time to buy a car. Today, the consumer is much better informed and often times, knows as much or more than the person who greets them on the lot. This has forced salesmen to be better. To be successful, a car salesman has to be good with people, know his product and know his competition like the back of his hand. Not only does he have to know his product, he has to know pricing and why his car is priced the way it is and how it compares to his competitors. Most people shop online before going to the dealership so they already have a good idea of what they want and how much they should pay.

I personally think that the internet has made the automobile business more fun and more professional. To be successful today, you can’t just be lucky, at least you can’t long term. You have to be smart, be on your game, be competitive and be professional if you want to be at the top! That makes it fun, that makes it a challenge and only the best rise to the challenge and have the courage to stay the course.

More dealers are choosing to be transparent in the way they deal with their customers today. Instead of using a sharpie and running back and forth to the mysterious guy smoking a cigar in the back, many dealers are opting to give their customers a professional presentation of all of the options. Most consumers today like choices and the smart dealer recognizes this and caters to it. Consumers today have many choices when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. The obvious choices are the car, the color, the miles and all of the options they want, but that is just the beginning. Financing options abound today and that is good for the consumer. Choices include the bank, credit union or leasing company, the term of the financing, the interest rates available, extended service contracts, GAP insurance, innumerable aftermarket options and on and on. A professional salesperson has the ability to communicate all of the options and the benefits, or pitfalls of each in a way that makes the purchasing experience a pleasure and not a nightmare.

The economy has taken its toll on so many individuals and businesses over the past few years and the automobile industry has taken a huge hit too. Many dealers went out of business, many scaled back and many are just hanging on. That’s the negative side, the positive side of a down economy is that it makes all of the businesses that survive stronger. I truly believe that those who have held on, or have even grown during this time, will be amazingly strong when the economy turns. These struggles have also made the sales professional better. When business was easy, we didn’t have to follow up as well, know our product as well, value the customer as much and so on. The downturn in sales has caused us all to be better and the consumer is the beneficiary.

Over the past few years I have seen a pride and professionalism developing in the automobile industry and in sales in particular that is exciting. Young, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial men and women are joining the ranks of car dealerships all around the country. Not only that, but many of those who have been in the business for years are feeling the excitement and getting re-energized, themselves. The automobile sales professional is quickly becoming a career that is respectable and dignified. Not all dealers are adapting to “the new way of doing business” but the ones that are adapting will reap the benefits and so will their customers!