man handing car keys

Car salesmen often get a bad rap from consumers. Often, they are looked at as sleazy bottom feeders that shoppers always try to avoid when out looking for a new car because they don’t want to be tricked into a sale. Believe it or not, a car salesman salary isn’t totally dependent on the sale, so no, they really aren’t trying to hunt you down.

What Is A Car Salesman?

So, what is a car salesman then? Like many others in the sales industry, they are sales professionals. It is their job to help find you a product that you are interested in purchasing.

What makes these sales professionals different than the more traditional ones you see in the store is the fact that car salesmen can negotiate. This is one of the reasons that many find them rather seedy because it sometimes can seem like they are trying to weasel a buyer out of their money.

Here is the thing, while most cars have a given suggested marketplace value, many dealers offer automobiles at certain discounts, but the goal tends to be to at least hit the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).

When consumers see a given price, they expect it, whether it is on a TV ad or something they saw on the internet.

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However, when they come into the dealership, it is the salesmen’s job to get at least that price on the MSRP sticker, and of course once they add on state charges, document fees, registration fees and any other local fees, they begin to feel added anxiety because the price can then go up quite a bit.

When it comes to a car salesman salary, there are a few different ways that they can earn money. In most cases, car salesmen work on a base salary along with commissions based on a given percentage. In many cases, they earn around minimum wage and then get a 20% to 25% sales commission.

In other areas, some dealerships work on either the base pay salary or a strictly commission-based pay. Both of these options can be very difficult to make a living off of, so that can be why they come off aggressive. These plans separately, especially the strictly commission-based salary, make the salesperson put it all out there to get that sale. Otherwise, they don’t get paid.

Average Car Salesman Salary

The average car salesman salary is around $40,000. However, this number can change drastically depending on the state, dealership and whether or not the salesperson works on a base salary plus commissions, or strictly one or the other.

Other factors can include bonuses, profit sharing and what percentage of commissions the dealership offers its salesmen.

Car Salesman Salary Factors & Influences

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When it comes to a car salesman salary, many different things go into figuring out all the fine details. So how are these things sorted out and negotiated? There are a number of different factors that go into negotiating a final salary for a car salesman, and a few of them are listed below.

Skills


For most dealerships, a formal education really isn’t a deciding factor. In fact, many car salesmen enter the field with either a high school diploma or GED.

Some things that aspiring salesman may take into consideration is the fact that an associate degree in business or marketing could help them appear as an ideal candidate in the eyes of the dealership.

Other automotive repair certifications could also help boost candidacy because those that have them know what truly goes on under the hood instead of just the statistics of the vehicles on the lot.

While education can look good on paper, what many dealerships look for in a salesperson is someone who has a good work ethic and can not only get along with the customers but someone the customers can really relate to and trust.

Those with good people skills come off as more genuine, and sales conversations come more naturally to them. So that image of the seedy salesman goes out the window when there is a genuine people-person around.

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Experience


While being a people person can play a vital role in not only landing a sales position at the dealership and making those critical sales, the experience is what will help build up the overall salary of a car salesman. While many dealerships offer a given base salary, this number generally falls around minimum wage, and the real meat of their salaries come from commissions.

The more experience a salesperson has, not only are they able to really work with the clientele, but they will become a more valuable asset to the dealership. This can mean that negotiating either a higher base pay or higher commission rate may be in the cards.

Car Salesman Salary by States


Car salesman salary can and does vary drastically by state, and, as mentioned earlier, depends on other factors such as dealership and payment plan. To get a feel for how these salaries can range, not the states with the top automobile sales.

These ten states have the highest sales, and yet, their salesman salaries range between $40,000 a year and $67,000 a year.

States

Average Salary

California

$67,000

Florida

$45,700

Texas

$50,000

New York

 $57,100

Oklahoma

$50,900

Illinois

$54,000

New Jersey

$46,700

Pennsylvania

$51,300

Ohio

$41,700

Georgia

$41,600

Of course, these numbers can vary drastically depending on the specific dealership within the state, county, and town. Even more, those with a more outgoing and relationship-oriented personality could make a decent living even in the lower paying states such as Mississippi. On average, the average salary is $23,000, and yet, in Jackson, Mississippi, the average salary for a car salesman is around $31,000.

The typical car salesman is seen as sneaky and crafty. What is key to remember is that for someone to want to purchase something, especially something as expensive as a car, consumers want to feel like they can relate to and trust a salesman.

For those with a genuine, people-oriented personality, this is much simpler. For those who don’t or are more introverted that have to put on a façade each day for work, they are the ones that can come off as seedy.

Types of Car Salesman Salary

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Salaries not only vary based on the information discussed above, but they can also vary depending on the title. Yes, titles such as executive and manager can boost the paycheck, but that also means there is more expected of the individual. Take the positions listed below for example:

An automotive sales executive oversees the sales of cars in a dealership and entails supervising sales operations to ensure optimal sales efficiency and to maximize profits.


Other than reaching out to consumers and potential clients who may be interested in buying a vehicle, they also are responsible for monitoring the auto sales industry to identify not only current product pricing, but also to look for new products, competing products and any new techniques of merchandising.

Many dealerships who have an internet sales department treats their internet sales employees as office staff. The sales manager for the internet sales department is generally in charge of developing, maintaining and updating all facets of internet presence and online marking.


They are also in charge of maintaining databases and their accuracy along with developing relationships with third party contacts.

History of Car Salesmen

While car salesmen have been around for quite some time, the art of the sale has been around much longer than the automobile. Sales began when people started bartering back and forth for goods, and that goes back as far as mankind.

From trading for goods, to modern day internet sales, the tactics have changed a little, but it all comes down to quality marketing. Consumers want to purchase quality products that serve a purpose. As long as a person can talk up a product, it can be sold.

Car Salesman Outlook – Conclusion

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The overall future outlook for salesmen in all industries, even car salesmen, is not looking too promising. The overall employment for sales consultants is expected to grow only by 2% by 2026. Why? Because many retailers are taking their sales services to the internet and further away from the more traditional store.

With businesses such as Carvana allowing shoppers to not only search and shop online but also purchase and either pick up or have their new car delivered for free to their door, this doesn’t look promising for the brick-and-mortar dealerships.  

This figure could change, especially in the automotive industry because many still want to visit the dealership, test-drive the car of their choosing and go from there.

So, while there may be a decrease in physical salespeople on the floor, there will be a need for a face to great and assist those that visit the dealerships for their car shopping needs.

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