Here’s the script for “The Sales Associate” video above:

Next up is the person with whom you’ll be spending the most time – the Sales Associate.

At a basic level, their job is to help you find the right car, go over features and benefits, take you on a test drive, and then communicate with sales management about how best to get you to say yes to the numbers.  Doing this job at a high level requires a significant degree of skill due to all the tasks involved and the variety of people that they will encounter.

This is absolutely one of the most challenging professions in the automotive industry. A sales associate will do everything from cleaning off hundreds of cars after a snowstorm to climbing into cars that can reach over 150 degrees in the summer heat.

Many of them work from open-to-close (or how we say it is bell to bell) with usually only one day off a week and forget about that if it’s the last week of the month.  They leave their families and work upwards of 70 hours per week, all for one reason – to earn a living by selling you a car.

I say all of that for a reason.  Car salesmen are people too.  Almost all of them are very good people who don’t receive enough credit for all the work that they do.  They don’t want to screw you over; they want you to drive away with one of their cars as quickly as possible so that they can find the next opportunity.

One of the hardest things for me to deal with when I was on the floor would be when someone would get out of their car to walk the lot, they would see me walking towards them with a big smile – and the customer would turn around and walk away without even saying, “Hi.”

My first thought is, “Geez, I’m not your enemy here.  I’m here to serve you as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Secondly, “If you’re here to buy a car, then you have to go through me anyway!”

sales associate

Please, please, please, at the very least, treat your sales associate like a human being.  It’s ok if you want some time to yourself to look at cars on your own.  Just be polite, shake their hand, and let them know that you’d like them to check back with you in a few minutes.

Even better, if you know what you want already – and you should before you even go there – then tell them!  They can show you right where it is and grab the keys for you to get inside of it.  Enlisting their help from the beginning can only help you to drive out with your new car as soon as possible.  They can be a strong ally for you when it’s time to negotiate if you get them on your side in the beginning.

Sales Associates are compensated in several different ways, but they don’t really accomplish anything without selling you a car.  Their compensation varies by the dealership, and it’s usually some type of commissioned structure.  Some will get a commission based on the profit of the deal, or what I’m seeing more commonly is that they will get paid a flat rate per unit regardless of dealer profit, with their flat rate increasing per car based on how many they sell in a month.

Say, for example, that they may earn $200 per car until they sell six and then it goes up to $250 per unit now, including the first six and escalating from there.  I’ve seen some dealers that will pay over $500 per car if the rep gets up over 20 units.  Shifting their incentive focus from profit to just moving the unit enables the sales rep to focus more on providing outstanding service to you as opposed to squeezing you for every dollar.

They may also earn bonuses based on who are the top 3 sales reps for the month.  Finally, on certain days the management team will give them something called “Spiffs,” which are cash in fist bonuses paid at the end of the day for hitting some type of daily target.  I’ve seen all types of spiffs, and one common example might be on a Saturday, and the Sales Manager says, “If you sell three cars today, you’ll walk out with $300 cash in addition to your regular commission.”  There was one day that I walked out with $1,500.

Finally, new car sales reps are motivated by customer satisfaction surveys.  Days after buying a new car, the manufacturer will contact you with a survey regarding your experience at the dealer.  Part of that survey will involve grading your sales associate.  They want a perfect score there because doing well means more money through bonuses, recognition, and prizes, while consistently performing poorly will potentially cost a car salesman the opportunity to sell new models with that manufacturer.

Make friends with your sales associate.  Turn them into an advocate on your behalf with management, and you will find that the process of buying a car will go a bit more smoothly.

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