I have talked to many former car salesmen and women during my time spent in the auto industry and one of the questions I always ask is why they left the car business. There are several top answers, but the one that I have heard more than any other is they had trouble living on a car sales salary.

They were unhappy not knowing what their car sales salary might be every week. They said that some weeks they would get a nice check and the next week they wouldn't bring home much at all. They assured me that they were very good at selling cars, but they wanted a job where they knew exactly how much they were getting paid each week so they could budget their money.

A Car Sales Salary and Car Sales Success

Car Sales Salary or CommissionThe funny thing about those former car sales people is that the income that they showed on their credit application to buy a car was not more than or even close to that of a good car salesman. In fact it was closer to that of a mediocre car salesman. I never mentioned that to them because I didn't want to blow a sale which I surely would have done if I gotten into that conversation. However I did wonder what kind of auto sales salary they were making when they sold cars if they took a job doing something that paid them half that of a successful car salesman.

Anyway to get back to the point, first off if you are not earning a fixed car sales consultant salary you better quit because you being taken advantage of by the car dealership where you are working. If they are paying you a salary for selling cars you are missing out on the real money. Secondly, the true car sales professional is paid a car salesman commission which is based on their sales and profitability. (Details of a Car Salesman Commission are Here)

Now to move on to living on a car sales salary commission or salesman income because it can be a challenge if you are not selling enough cars and making enough money. It's hard to keep your head in the game when you have money problems (like not having enough). My first few months of selling cars on 100% commission versus a fixed income job took some real getting used to, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Getting Used to a Car Sales Salary and Compensation

Once I started catching on and selling more cars, my weekly checks started growing and not to mention the month end bonuses. I was blowing the auto sales average pay out of the water. I tried to maintain my thrifty ways and keep from spending those bigger and bigger commission checks. In fact I would hold some of my checks to even out those weeks that were less than I hoped. I would only cash my checks when I needed to and at one point the person that did payroll asked me to ash my checks. That was when I decided I was getting used to living on a car salesman compensation and commission and not a car sales salary or any other kind of salary.

I will admit that is really a challenge trying to get used to living on a car salesman salary, but it is only because it is such a big change to most people. Most people were raised knowing how much they were bringing home every month or week and so it is really hard to get comfortable working on commission.

Whatever it takes make the effort to adjust to the change because otherwise you could be missing out making a six figure car salesman income. I can tell you first hand that is much easier to get used to the uneven paychecks when you are earning 100K a year. So don't be like one of those former auto sales people above that accept a job that earns them half of what a successful car salesman makes. Get your head in the game and sell some cars and before you know it you will be thinking like a veteran and would never ever consider selling cars for a used or new car sales salary. Get paid what your are worth rather than leave to accept a job that pays the same whether you work hard or hardly work. You can be a better car salesman.

I assume you are selling cars for a living because you want the opportunity to make some real money. Don't let the method of car salesman compensation and getting used to how car salesman are paid get in the way of your success. Many others have done it and you can too, earn a six figure income selling cars. How Much Money Car Salesman Make?

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Dave · July 27 at 10:08 pm

Hi I am 41 and looking at getting into auto sales. As odd as this sounds but at my age I have only had two jobs. Both have had sales as part of my job, but not forefront. I have never had a job interview. Where is the best place to wet my feet and the best way to sale myself to get my 1st job. As you can tell, I don't like to have to jump from job to job.

Len · September 14 at 8:46 am

This is pretty interesting reading!

I am almost 60 and have been selling cars for 5.5 years. I come from the steel industry and was making a 6 figure base salary with bonuses up to $40k…but that company was sold twice and I found myself on the outside. I came to my dealership because my son used to audit this store. He told me back in 2007 that this was the BEST and most sound dealership he has ever seen…where the salesmen were here for 20,25 and 30 years…where the “good” guys all made 6 figure income and the “bad” guys earned in the 60’s.

Yes, the hours are long but they are for ANY endeavor that pays 6 figures. Our scheduled hours are ~40 per week – but you will find yourself on the lot on your scheduled time off for a delivery or because an appointment is coming in or because it is the end of the month and you want to snag another deal or two. The SM says that you need to work the “smart hours” – NOT long hours.

My goal every month is 15 units. 3/5/7 = 3 by the 10th + 5 more by the 20th + 7 more by the 30th = 15. It was previously 12 units (2/4/6). I have sold 134 cars through August so I guess it is time to “up” the monthly goal again. My year-to-date pay has been $60k so I am on target to make $90k this year. Still not $100k - but on the way. My repeat and referral business has steadily grown to ~25% - 35% of my sales each month.

Ours is an “open” store where everyone can sell new, used, factory order, lease, car, truck, etc. there is no taking
turns which means I can take the next customer on the lot & the one after him & the one after him, etc. My colleague next door can take the next phone call + the one after that, etc.

It has been said (& IS true) that you will starve if you wait for customers to come on the lot and/or wait for the phone to ring. You MUST prospect. Sorry, it is work but that is the reason we are here.

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