Having been in the car business since 1997, I have definitely had my share of encounters with salespeople. From working as a salesperson to interviewing, hiring and, yes, firing sales team members, I’ve been there and I’ve done that. Anyway, it is impossible to typecast sales personnel, but here are the five common types of automotive salespeople I have come across many times through the years.
1. The Veteran Hustler. Typically an older salesperson who has been in the industry for years. Normally a bit on the senior side compared to his or her younger colleagues. Well entrenched in the industry, they will try to get a commission out of anything and your grandmother’s neighbor. Behind closed doors, executives would say: “May sungay na.” I remember when I made my first sale, a seasoned sales agent (who is now an industry executive) even tried to take away my commission by taking credit for the sale. As someone related to the owner of the business, this was a rude awakening for me to how dirty things could be. Don’t get me wrong: These guys and gals know how to sell. But as they say in the ring, protect yourself at all times.
2. The Enthusiastic Graduate. Young, optimistic, idealistic and ready to face the world—exactly someone who will remind you that it is always a gamble to take in people straight out of school. The good thing is that they are eager to learn (and earn), and don’t have the sungay of the Veteran Hustler. Training is key, and they can use their youth as an advantage when it comes to charming clients. I have seen many graduates from good schools come in and do great as they are able to talk to clients on common ground. Unfortunately, many also leave for other opportunities after a few years, taking away many great learnings. If you want to see what you are truly made of, take a sales job.
3. The Gorgeous Heartthrob. There are people who just really look good. It’s a fact of life. And yes, it helps. We once had a strikingly pretty salesperson who wasn’t exceptional at work, but somehow consistently sold cars. Being attractive helps in sales. I’m not saying you have to be a model to be successful. Just groom yourself, look sharp and do your best to appear magnetic. First impressions count.
4. The Fickle Mercenary. This salesperson will go to the highest bidder, and jump from brand to brand. He or she can sell, yes, but ask yourself: “Do I really want a disloyal individual on my team?”
5. The Greatest Showman. There are amazing men and women out there who have turned sales into their life’s work. There is nothing part-time about them. They are dyed-in-the-wool salespeople who are loyal to their employers and are respected by their peers and their clients. These gems become family to their bosses and customers, and are not blinded by money from poaching pirates. They are real hardworking people who see selling cars as a genuine career, and bring prestige to themselves and their job.
Every time I hear someone talk about salespeople, there is often a negative connotation. Someone once told me that the first time you ever sold something was when you cried for milk and your mother gave in. At the end of the day, everyone is selling something. There is no shame in being a salesperson. It is a decent, worthwhile and possibly lifelong profession.