My First Day as a Car Salesman
So many people email me with questions about being a car salesperson regularly. I thought it was time to share one of my personal experiences. That experience was my first day as a car salesman. I am not writing this to encourage or discourage anyone from selling cars for a living. But instead to give an overall view of starting in the car business. I love the car business, but it’s only for some.
To start, I was hired and sent to take a drug test. I got a phone call a couple of days later, and the sales manager said I passed the drug test and should report to the dealership for training on Tuesday. That was next Tuesday, ten days from the day I got the call. I showed up on time, and it was time for car sales training. My first day as a car salesman has yet to start, but I wanted to give you some background.
Time to Hit the Road
The dealership had a trainer who came to town to train the staff. My class consisted of myself, three other students, and two current salespeople. They occasionally have staff members undergo sales training more than once. ( I don’t know if it was a refresher or they suck, I’ll find out soon enough)
Two of the other three students sold cars in the past. One other person and I were new to the car business. Since we had never sold cars before, we had lunch together and tried to help each other when possible. We were both looking forward to our first day as car salesmen.
True Car Sales Training
So here I am with two current car salespeople, two who previously sold cars for Nissan and Chrysler, and another Newbie like myself. The two current salespeople were cordial but quiet and reserved. I am sure they were unhappy about having to take the training class.
Plus, they were with four new people that were going to be competing for customers. I hadn’t even had my first day as a car salesman, and I already could sense some attitude. You see, the current sales staff never likes when newbies start. They feel like they will lose sales and, ultimately, commissions. So just knowing that made my first day as a car salesman even harder.
We had four days of training. The training covered all the steps of car sales, had to memorize some scripts, and did some role-playing. Then we went into presenting numbers, negotiation, closing, and delivery. There was a lot covered in four days, but it was easy. Most of it was easy enough, but that was theory and not reality. We finished training on a Friday afternoon and were told to return on Saturday at 8:30 AM. So here we go; with training under my belt, I was ready for my first day as a car salesman.
Reality Strikes – First Day as a Car Salesman
I arrived at the dealership at 8:15 AM and was instructed to sit in the meeting room and wait for the 8:30 Saturday morning meeting. So I sat and watched as the rest of the sales staff and trainees strolled into the room, now full, with no seat left. Then at 8:30 AM sharp, the General Sales Manager, two Sales Managers, and the Used Car Manager walked in and stood at the front of the room. For the next 30 minutes, we got filled in on sales from the day before, current incentives, and inventory updates.
Then the attention turned to my three classmates and me. We took turns standing up, introducing ourselves, and giving some background on past jobs. We were then welcomed to the team and listened as the General Sales Manager gave everyone a pep talk. Finally, the meeting was over, and it was time for the rubber to hit the road. It was my first day as a car salesman, and it was time to hit the floor.
Hit the Sales Floor
I walked out into the showroom and looked for customers. It was 9:00 AM, and no customer was to be found. So I looked around the dealership. Six or eight salespeople were on the side of the building smoking cigarettes. Some salespeople were at their desks, some were on the phone, and others were walking the inventory on the lot. The rest of the sales staff was sprinkled around the showroom, waiting for customers, including my classmates.
Now what? Eighteen car salespeople were looking for customers and not one to be found. Even if I did spot a customer, what chance would I get to them before the seventeen others? Still, early, I was determined to have an excellent first day as a car salesman. It was Saturday, game day, the best day of the week to sell a car. I watched as a few customers entered the showroom and were greeted by salespeople. Luckily I even managed to greet one myself, but they were here for an appointment with another car salesman.
Competition and the First Day as Car Salesperson
Customers continued to come onto the lot or into the showroom and, finally, shook hands with somebody that wanted to look at a car. Finally, it was getting close to lunch, and I had just got my first customer. I went through my steps to the sale with the customer and then the test drive. He said he liked the car, so I walked him through the service (part of our sales process) and sat him down at my desk. I took the customer’s card and wrote down his information, name, email, phone, etc.
Then I asked him about his trade. I took down his trade information and got his keys. I took the info and the keys to the desk for the Used Car Manager to appraise. While that was done, I returned to the customer with an off-the-cuff, lowball trade number from the desk. Then I worked a four-square with him. (some of you might not even know what foursquare is) I used the list price of the car and the lowball trade number from the desk and figured payments.
First Green Pea Four Square
He looked at me and said Ok, thanks. What did he mean? Was he buying? Did I sell him a car? No, he said thanks; he was just wondering because he was considering buying this car, but not for another 3 months. He said, “He was just shopping, doing his homework.” So I return to the desk with his story, and the sales manager takes the customer. I watched, listened, and then he shook hands with my sales manager and said goodbye. Strike one.
Back on the showroom floor, one of the other sales guys said all the salespeople had lunch in the meeting room. Wow, free lunch? I found out that the dealership buys lunch every Saturday for the sales staff. Saturday is busy, and they don’t want anyone leaving for lunch, so they feed us. Nice, except I was a little late to the lunch because I was tied up with a customer. However, I did get enough to hold me over, but I will keep that in mind for next week.
Time to Observe the Pros
After lunch, I returned to the showroom floor and realized the place was full of people. Couples, families, kids, you name it. The place was packed, and it looked like all seventeen car salespeople had customers. It was perfect. I will get the next customer for sure. I walked around the showroom, taking it all in.
Watching the veterans selling cars and keeping my eyes open for the next Fresh Up. (Fresh up, I learned that term on my first day as a car salesman) There they are, I spot a car pulling into the lot, and I head in that direction when suddenly another salesman pops out from behind a car and greets them as they exit their car.
Lessons Learned on My First Day as Car Salesman
Lesson learned: I don’t need to wait for them to enter the showroom. I can greet them outside in their car. With newfound knowledge, I went outside in front of the dealership rather than waiting inside. It wasn’t long before a couple pulled in with a 6-year-old car. I greet them both, and we start looking at cars. Meet and greet, select, walk around, and test drive. Fortunately, I got them both to drive, walk-through service, and bring them to my desk.
I pull out a customer card and start asking questions, and I get shut down. We are just looking the husband says. I say no problem, but I would gladly get you some numbers for when you are ready (the script). No thanks, we have to go. I grabbed a sales manager, and he said thanks for coming in. I am wondering, was it me? Is this how car sales work? Did I do something wrong? How can you sell a car if nobody is buying it? The sales manager said to get another customer.
Back on the Sales Floor
Back out to the showroom, I go to look for a customer. The showroom is still packed with people, and it’s about 3:00, and we close at 6:00 on Saturday. I wander around the showroom and the lot for the next hour. Watching all the salespeople selling cars (at least most) and delivering cars. Late Saturday afternoon, on my first day as a car salesman, my once positive attitude started to go south. I started asking myself if this car sales thing was right for me.
No Such Thing as Closing Time When You Have a Customer
It’s starting to get late, nearly one hour before closing time, and I see a woman walking the lot looking at cars. Ok, it’s time to suck it up and keep from wasting the entire day. (I was starting to get a little salty.) I head out to greet the woman on the lot. She is looking at our luxury sedans. She is driving the same model, only 11 years old. This must be a good sign; she looks at the same make and model.
She was by herself and in her late forties. I naturally assume she will need a husband, shame on me. I intentionally looked at her hand, and I saw a wedding ring. But how am I going to bring her husband up without offending her? There was no way I could bring it up; it would probably blow my chances. No choice here but to assume she is the buyer and start moving the process forward.
After I got the selection, I got the keys. I pulled the car out of the row and did a walkaround. I kept thinking this was my first day as a car salesman and my last chance today to make something happen. I did a walk-around just like we did in training, and I didn’t skip a beat. Then it was time for the test drive.
First Newbie Test Drive
We went for a ride, and I explained the interior features. I directed her to drive our route for test drives, and she followed my directions perfectly. The whole time I kept thinking about my training and how I needed to do every step perfectly. We returned to the dealership, and I had her park near the service entrance. We walked her through the service to show her around as per our sales process, and she told me that she regularly services her car with our dealership. Jackpot.
I Think I Got One
By now, it’s about 5:30 and we close at 6:00. Since it was my first day as a car salesman, I didn’t know if we closed right at six o’clock or do we have the customer come back or what. I was such a Newbie at the time. I quickly learned that when you have a customer, you work the deal until it’s done. It doesn’t matter what time you close when you have a customer in front of you.
We walked into the showroom, and I had her sit at my desk. I started filling out a customer card, and that’s when she told me what I needed to hear. She said she was married, but she always buys her cars, and her husband buys his cars. This woman was very pleasant but not a pushover (yes, she was, but I didn’t know it then). My customer was intelligent and well-versed in financing and the current incentives. She had a trade-in, an 11-year-old car of the same make and model that we test-drove. Immediately I got her trade keys and headed for the sales desk.
First Pencil on my First Day as Car Salesman
I gave the trade information and keys to the desk manager, who gave me the hit number for the trade. (Based on my visual assessment, a hit number was a lowball figure on the trade.) Back to my customer and did a Four Square with her. (Some of you might not even know what a FourSquare is.) After allowing the trade-in and down payment. I used a formula to work out a payment using the list price. This payment was typically very high, but I was Newbie and did as I was told.
I presented her with that number, and she smiled and said no way, that’s crazy. She threw a number back at me, and I wrote it down. I was trained to take an offer unless it seemed crazy. So I wrote down her number and said: “If I can do this number will you take it home today.” She said yes, and now I was getting excited. Good chance I might sell a car on my first day as a salesman. I had her sign her name next to her offer to confirm her commitment, and she did. Back to the desk manager quickly, thinking I had a sale there.
All About The Sales Desk
The desk manager looked at her offer and her signature and asked? Will she take it home today? All excited, I said yes, and then he asked where she got this number. I said she gave it to me when I did the FourSquare. Then he asked where she is coming up with this up number. I must have looked like a deer in headlights. The excitement left me, and I said I don’t know.
The desk manager told me I should have asked her and had her justify that number. I stood there with that same blank expression. He took my Foursquare, drew a line through her number, and wrote down a number that was 110 dollars per month more than her number. Then he told me to give her that number, but I needed to confirm that she had excellent credit. My hopes were crushed. I thought there was no way she would accept that number and that I would not sell a car on my first day as a car salesman. Plus, I had no idea about her credit.
First Day as Car Salesman, I Sold a Car
By now, it’s after 6:00 PM, and I head over to my desk, where my customer is patiently waiting. I muster up all the courage I can, show her the number, and question her credit simultaneously. She says I am not worried about my credit but will not do $110 a month extra. She said I would do $100 over and not a penny more. I couldn’t believe what she said; she accepted another $100 monthly. Immediately I had her sign next to her offer because I still had difficulty believing what she said. My excitement was starting to return. So once again, I went back to the desk with her offer.
The desk manager was waiting for me because the showroom was almost empty by now. I think I was the last deal working; the few remaining people were sold customers waiting for one of the Finance Managers. He looked at my offer and said, “You weak stick, you couldn’t get the extra $10 monthly. Then he said, “Write it up,” Congratulations, you sold your first car. Then I said what do you mean, “Write it up”? It was my first day as a car salesman, and I sold my first car. I didn’t know how to write it up.
How Do I Write It Up? It’s My First Day
One of the car salesmen with a customer waiting for finance showed me how to write it up. He also handed me a form and told me I needed to sell my customer a package. A package consisted of after-sales products like paint protection, fabric protection, and soundproofing/undercoating. I could sell each product separately or as a package. This was all new to me, but I still went out and gave it a try. I talked about each item and used common sense to try and sell the benefits. She said she had that on her last car and would like it on her new car. Wow, that was easy, plus my commission on the package was $225.00.
Cha-Ching – Sold a Car
After getting the paperwork together with help from the desk manager and another salesperson, I sat with my customer. We engaged in small talk while one of the sales managers had a porter prep her new car and fill it with gas. We waited until her turn, and I walked her to the finance office. The Finance Manager did his part of the deal, and about 30 minutes later, my customer was ready for her car.
I walked her to the delivery area, where her new car was. The sales manager ensured everything was ready since it was my first day as a car salesman. The car was cleaned, fueled, and the license plates were removed from her used car and installed on the new car. She was very happy with her new car, and as I watched her drive away, I was happy. I am selling a new car.
Overview of My First Day as a Car Salesman
It was about 7:30 PM, an hour and a half after closing, but I didn’t care because I had sold a car. While driving home, In my head, I went over my first day as a car salesman. Most of the day was frustrating, but I lucked out. I calculated my commission for the sale and package, which came to $1637.
That was when I realized that selling cars for a living was for me. Quickly I realized the desk manager knew I had a deal, but he didn’t push me too hard. I think the fact that I was a Newbie and it was closing time influenced his decision to make the deal so quickly. In hindsight, the customer was not precisely a laydown, but she wasn’t far from it; she made it easy for me to sell my first car.
I Was Selling Cars for a Living
Of the four of us that went through the training, one of the guys that sold cars before, and I was the only trainee that sold cars that day. I look back and realize that I was lucky. It’s not common for Newbies to have the kind of day I had on my first day as a car salesman. I am not trying to tell anyone that wants to become a car salesman that they will have the same experience. This was my experience, and everybody’s experience is different, and you can never tell how much you will make until it’s over.
Thanks for reading; if you want to send me the details about your first day as a car salesman or saleswoman. I will be glad to post it on the site. Use the contact form or the email on that page. If we get enough first-day stories, I will create a whole section on my first day as a car salesman.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot