Saturday, September 20, 2008

Car Sales & the Current Economy

Last June, I started a new job as a car salesman. I've enjoyed working in the automotive industry, but as you can imagine learning the art of selling takes time. And trying to convince people to purchase a $25-50,000 car in this economy has been, shall we say, interesting. But that's probably due mostly to my laid back personality. I'm not the type of person that enjoys pushing for a sale — even when my income depends on it.

But then a recent conversation steered my thoughts in another direction. As I spoke with a veteran salesman about the lack of customers, he assured me that I had started at the worst possible time. The winter months have typically been the worst for sales, but our down time had already begun this summer. So, if this happens to be the worst possible time to start as a car salesman, I need to seriously consider my options. Waiting for the economy to improve is an option, but that will only work if the job provides sufficient income to meet our family's needs.

The usual way of doing things involves setting aside funds during the good months for use during the slow times. But if you start during the down time, you find yourself in a difficult situation. And I don't like that because I'm not the kind of person that quits a job just because it is difficult. My thinking has always been that perseverance plows through the good and bad. But is that really wise thinking? I'm beginning to wonder.


EggsnGrits said...

Andy, let me speak as someone who has made a living selling for the past 16 years or so: do what is right for you, don't feel the need to continue out of duty or persistence.

Employers of sales people really have little trouble firing salespeople that they don't want anymore. In fact, our company is growing right now, and we still have about 20% of the salespeople getting fired each year. In most companies it's closer to one-third. THerefore, any loyalty that you have is not really returned by most employers.

Second, your chances to make a living are directly related to the product or service that you are selling. The best salespeople in the world my be able to sell a substandard or unpopular product better than the average salespeople, but even the average or below-average salespeople that have a hot product to sell do better than the best people with a slow-moving product. Therefore, product and market placement are very, very important (but you've figured that one out, I'll bet).

If you aren't making the living that you feel that you need, leave now. It's only going to get worse in the coming months. Early is always better than later.

On the other hand, if you can see a way to make the living that you need and weather the coming drought(s), and you enjoy what you do, then there are reasons to stay. Despite what others will tell you, your persistence will not likely be rewarded with pots of gold when the economy rebounds. Quite the contrary, the dealership will start to staff up as soon as sales pick up and your ability to make large numbers of sales will be diluted with each hire. The reasons to stay are for intangibles -- stabilty for you and family, peace of mind, repeat (easier to close) customers, small perks that come with seniority.

My advice to you: always look for the next step. If you want to sell cars, think about where -- Saturn, Honda, Toyota, etc. will out sell Volvos three or four to one. From a selling standpoint, you may want to be there.

My two cents

My two cents.

Andy Rupert said...

Thanks for sharing your sunny side up input, Eggs. :)

I'm going to stick with it for a while, and see how things go. I have been failry busy this last week. I'm hoping that busyness turns into positive business.