14 Pros and Cons of Being a Car Salesman

If you are looking for an exciting employment opportunity in your community, then being a car salesman may be the right job to pursue. Every position and industry have specific challenges which you must meet to be successful, but selling cars takes you to the basics of sales. People come to you because you are selling a product that customers need. You will meet families from a wide variety of situations, but they all have one thing in common: they all need a vehicle.

Although there are stereotypes to consider if you start to sell vehicles, especially if you become a used car salesman, this job can be exceptionally rewarding. You are getting to create a great day for most people in your community because driving the new car is often one of the best experiences in life. You get to provide for your family, potentially work flexible hours, and build a network of relationships.

If you are looking for a job that will help you to maximize the potential of what you can earn, then the pros and cons of being a car salesman is worth considering.

List of the Pros of Being a Car Salesman

1. You get to determine the full value of your salary during each pay period.
Because most car salesman work on commission, you can earn as little or as much as you want during the year with this job. Your salary is based on the number of cars that you can sell, along with the profitability of each one that leaves the lot. You also have the option to earn bonuses and other income supplements based on the number of upsells that you can add to the contract.

You will always run into customers who know what they want and don’t want you to add anything to the sale, but if you are good at building relationships with people, then you can earn a decent living in this job.

2. Sitting behind your desk is a rarity as a car salesman.
If you don’t like the idea of earning a paycheck by sitting in a small cubicle all day staring at a computer, then becoming a car salesman can help you get into a position where your job can be a lot of fun. You will notice that the average work day goes by rather quickly because you are either working with a customer or waiting for one to stop by your dealership. You will also be delivering vehicles, preparing them for customers, and managing service contracts. Because you were always busy, there are fewer boring moments that can make it seem like time is dragging on.

3. You can make a lot of money from a single sale.
It is not unusual for a car salesman to earn upwards of $1,000 on a single transaction. If you can sell about 10 cars per month and average $800 per commission, then that is a significant salary that you can earn. Although you might need to work more than 40 hours per week to make that quota and sell used and new cars to do it, the top 10% of this industry can earn more than $200,000 per year. Even if you only work part time, you can still earn a full-time salary if you become good at this job. The average salesperson earns about $50,000 per year in the United States.

4. You are always working a different schedule in this position.
When you work as a car salesman, then you are employed in a position that offers a variable schedule. You can work during the evening, on the weekend, or during holidays so that you can get in touch with the customers that will help you to earn a paycheck. Because there is so much flexibility in this industry, it is easier to take some time off to watch your child’s baseball games, get to doctor appointments, and handle other family affairs.

You can also avoid the boredom of following the same routine every day when you work as a car salesman. You might even get to drive the demonstration car if you are lucky enough.

5. The physical requirements of the job are minimal.
You don’t have to work as hard physically in this employment opportunity as you would with other positions that can average the same salary. Car salesman typically work with their words and their pens. You must convince someone that they are ready to purchase a vehicle, and then you must fill out the paperwork to make that happen. Although you might spend hours with a customer that eventually doesn’t buy a car or cannot qualify for a loan, the primary physical requirement is to be on your feet most of the day.

List of the Cons of Being a Car Salesman

1. Your commissions are impacted by the customer surveys your agency receives.
Car salesman earn ratings just like sellers on eBay or freelancers on Fiverr. The only difference is that this process occurs on surveys that are handed out after a sale or mailed directly to the customer from the vehicle’s manufacturer. Perfect scores are necessary to maintain the highest levels of commissions, so one low score can be enough to impact your income in adverse ways for up to a month or more.

Some dealerships do not base their salary structure based on this feedback, so you may want to talk about how your work is rated to avoid this potential disadvantage of being a car salesman.

2. If you don’t make a sale, then you don’t earn an income.
Most car salespeople are paid based on a commission that they earned whenever they complete a transaction with a customer. You might earn 3% on the total value of the car that someone purchases, and then receive a stipend for your vacation time or sick days. Some dealerships offer a base wage in addition to the commissions to ensure a weekly paycheck is possible. Most locations are a 100%-commission position, which means if you don’t sell any cars during a pay period, then you aren’t making any money at all.

3. Some transactions will only make you pocket change.
Car salesman get paid off of the amount that you create in a transaction that goes over invoice. That means you are paying more than the price that the dealership paid from the manufacturer for the car that you want. If someone pays less than this amount, then your earnings are called a “mini deal,” which means a flat payout is given to you in the $100 to $200 range. Most of the vehicles that get sold today qualify for that deal, especially if you purchase a new car. That means the idea of earning a fat commission is something that is not always possible with today’s economics.

Even if you can get a sale over invoice from a generous customer, you must take the ethical approach that it is okay to sell a vehicle for a higher price so that you can earn a bigger check. Not everyone can do that.

4. There are days when you might not get a single customer.
This disadvantage is something that every salesperson encounters at some point in their career. There are days when you might not have a single customer come into your dealership. If you do have someone stop by, there is a good chance that they are “just looking” when they start their shopping process. Some days go by quickly and you can make a lot of money with this job, but there are more days when the dealership will be slow. You could find yourself standing around all day waiting for someone to arrive.

That’s why you will see the prime shifts occur on the weekends with this job. People shop for cars during their free time, which means evenings and holidays are usually busier than a mid-morning shift on a Tuesday. Although you never know when someone might stop by, there are times when earning a sale can be rare.

5. Customers usually lie more than the stereotypical car salesperson.
Salespeople who work with used or new cars might have a stereotypical reputation of being liars, but customers are willing to let false words escape their lips without a second thought. You will encounter buyers all of the time that say they will come back to purchase a vehicle with you, and then go somewhere else to buy their car. Some might even come back to your dealership to work with another salesperson, which might cut you out of the commission.

Even if you can avoid a customer like that, there are jokes about the reputation of your work that you will hear all of the time. It might be rewarding to win a customer over, but you might be dealing with a lot of disrespect before you get to that outcome.

6. Career training opportunities can be minimal in this industry.
When you first start to work as a car salesman, then your dealership will provide you with sales training that can help you to lock down some great deals. The staff will help you with some tips that can make you better at what you do as well. The only problem with this setup is the fact that most employers will only train you when you first start in this position. There are rarely any ongoing educational opportunities to attend with this job.

The bottom line for the customer is that they are going to purchase something either when they have no other choice or there is a high level of perceived value in the transaction. That means you can find yourself stuck in a position where it is up to you to advance your career at your own expense.

7. Only a few dealerships offer you the chance to reach your full earning potential.
You might have an opportunity to work almost anywhere when you start to sell cars, but you’ll need to be near a large metro area if you want to maximize your opportunities in this industry. You could find yourself trying to earn an income in a roadside used car lot. There are rural areas that require service coverage. Smaller operations typically need less training to help get you paid, but there are fewer opportunities to earn a paycheck in them as well.

Smaller employers also have more competition for customers, which means it can be challenging to get into the role that you want. You could find yourself working full-time hours and barely making minimum wage in some situations.

8. You need to have an extroverted personality to be successful in most situations.
The competition for customers is fierce when you start working as a car salesman. You will be continually jockeying for position with everyone else in the dealership unless the facility is small enough that only one person is on staff at any time. That means an individual with an introverted personality could find themselves on the outside looking in when trying to secure a relationship or overcome the objections that are present to a deal. People who are reserved in this industry typically lose more than those who have a more aggressive personality.

9. You will need to navigate the stresses of negotiation every day.
People have more access to information today about the car sales process than arguably at any other time in history. Customers come into a dealership looking to get the best price possible. Educated consumers are nice to work with since it simplifies the sales process, but it can also limit the amount of money that you earn. If you don’t like to haggle over price, manage trade-ins, and handle credit evaluations, then this position might not be right for you.

There are numerous issues that involve the customer which are outside of your control as a salesperson, and a poor rating could impact the amount you earn during the month. If your financial manager is unable to help your customer, then you might have wasted all of your time.

Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Being a Car Salesman

It is essential to remember that there is no job that is 100% perfect. You will encounter stress, anxiety, and other difficulties in every position. The goal should be to find an employment opportunity that can embrace your passions.

The pros and cons of being a car salesman are going to be different for everyone. You will want to look at the key points in each section to determine how this information applies in your situation. There is an opportunity for you to earn six figures during your first year in this job under the right set of circumstances.

If you are tired of the daily grind or the cubicle life, then being a car salesman can be a lucrative and rewarding career.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.