10 Tips for New Sales Associates

Starting a new career in automobile sales can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you are new to the automobile industry, you may be thinking about the best way to interact with the customers that come to the dealership. There are many things you can do to be the best sales associate you can be.

It is not a secret that sales associates in the automobile industry have to overcome a bad impression of being sketchy, dishonest and only out for the money. This opinion is caused by unscrupulous dealerships that have burned people or used less than honest means to sell cars that shouldn’t have been sold (in the case of used car sales associates) or that have promised things and then not delivered.

This mentality about car salespeople still haunts dealerships all over the country,  Don’t be disheartened, the tips we’ll share with you below will help you build trust with your customers and turn you into the kind of car sales associate you want to be, and more importantly, that YOU would go to, to purchase a car. You will have to put in the work to overcome the negative viewpoints of some customers, but it will be work that is well worth it


1. The Importance of a name – Learning your customer’s name (or names if a couple has come into the dealership) is very important for many reasons. It is almost automatic to approach a potential customer and simply introduce yourself and ask what you can do for them, but you need to handle this introduction differently.

When you approach the customers, get their name immediately by saying “Welcome to ABC Dealership, I’m Mark and you are?”   Once you have gotten their name (and they will always give it to you when asked this way)   remember it and use it throughout the whole visit and beyond.  It is necessary to develop a good memory for names because this starts the beginning of a rapport with the potential customers.


2. The art of listening – One of the best skills you can develop as a sales associate is listening…TRULY listening to your customers and potential customers. Most people that go into sales are more outgoing in general and like to talk to people, even those they don’t know.

Top salespeople know the importance of letting the customer talk, so they have excellent listening skills as well. Active listening involves really hearing what your potential customers are saying and then providing them with what they’ve asked for as often as possible.

The worst thing you can do as a salesperson is to talk constantly. The customer will feel that they are simply being talked “at” rather than talked to and this will, more often than not, result in them leaving without purchasing a vehicle.


3. Eye contact builds trust – People that avoid eye contact can make others feel like they are dishonest, disinterested in them, and hiding something. When you maintain eye contact with your customers, this will create a connection and establish trust. Not in a creepy way, of course. The idea is not to stare them down.

You want to shoot for regular eye contact roughly 30 to 60% of the conversation. It is okay to have less eye contact when you are speaking and more when you are listening to reassure the customer you are, in fact, interested in what they have to say.


4. Pushy does NOT have to be a salesperson trait – Many people think that salesperson and pushiness go hand in hand but this is not the way to gain customer loyalty…or a sale.  Yes, the objective is to sell a car, but pushing your customers will usually result in the customer leaving and not returning.

Purchasing a car is a big investment and it is not one that people feel comfortable being rushed or hurried into.  Let them have the space they need so they feel that you support them but are not bull rushing them.


5. Know the business – A knowledgeable salesperson inspires confidence and trust from potential customers. One of the best things you can do for your reputation as a car salesperson is to know your dealership inside and out.

Know the cars you have on the lot, know what is on your website, know what the financing process is, etc.

You should be able to answer any question your customer asks you about the cars on your lot, the car buying process, something they saw on your website, and even information about warranties and extras that the dealership offers them. The more you know, the better they will feel about doing business with you.


 6. No bad mouthing other salespeople or dealerships – People usually love to complain. It seems to be human nature so be prepared to hear some “horror” stories of past shady car dealers. Even if you know a dealership or salesperson that the customer is bad mouthing do NOT engage in negative talk about them or other dealerships.

The best thing to do is to acknowledge how they feel and then gently lead them away from the negative talk with simple, reassuring statements such as “I’m really sorry that happened Jim,  we’ll make sure that you leave here fully informed and with a vehicle you are confident and excited about.”

This lets them know that you have heard their story, understand their fears, and will ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen and you haven’t had to say one negative thing about anyone.


7. Don’t just try to appease the customer – As much as you want to please your customers and avoid ruffled feathers, it is always best to keep it real with them, even if it means they might become irritated.

Most customers will be okay with delays or hurdles as long as you have been honest with them upfront about each situation. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest when you know it’s going to annoy, upset, or disappoint them.

If you find out you can’t get a certain financing rate they wanted or a certain color that the customer is looking for, be upfront and tell them right away.  Honesty will go a long way toward continuing to build that trust.


8. Keep a clean desk – Once you have shown a customer a car and they’ve test driven it, they will more than likely want to sit down and talk facts and figures. Make sure your desk is organized, clean, and professional. It doesn’t have to be bare by any means.

A desk with personal family photographs and other things that you personally like is just fine as long as they are not unprofessional. It looks very bad for a customer to come to your desk and it is cluttered, full of food wrappers, or completely disorganized. 

Remember that a messy desk makes it look like YOU are messy and sloppy about things. This is not the impression you want them to have.


9. Be the salesperson YOU would buy from – Selling cars is the main objective of your job but this doesn’t mean that you should look at each customer as nothing but another car sold.

Customers are people FIRST and should be treated as such. How would you want to be approached if you were buying a car?  How would you want the salesperson to speak to you?  Your goal should be to be the kind of salesperson that you would purchase a vehicle from and you should be just fine with 90% of the customers. 

Customers will remember you for future purchases if you have treated them with decency, respect, and honesty. 


10. Following up with the customer – Following up is the single most overlooked aspect of the sales process and probably one of the most important things you can do to get a loyal customer for years to come. There are many ways to follow up with a customer, even if they have just called with an inquiry or come in to take a look around. 

Send them an email, give them a call, or even mail them something through snail mail thanking them for coming to the dealership. If they have already purchased a vehicle, thank them for the purchase, make sure that everything is okay with their new vehicle and find out if there is anything else you can do for them. 

Making sure that they are happy is extremely important in creating a customer that will be happy with their vehicle for a long time to come. It also assures you that they will remember your name the next time they need a car or know someone who does. 



Being new to the automobile sales business does not have to be a stressful situation. Following these ten important tips will get you off to a great start.  Don’t be afraid to add your own style to these tips, just keep the foundational elements in mind as you are developing your own selling style.  The main objective that you should come into work with every day is to do your best to make every customer feel important.

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