Car Salesperson

The Job and What's Involved

As a car salesperson, or vehicle sales executive, you would sell new and used cars, and possibly other vehicles such as vans and motorbikes.

Your duties would vary according to the type and size of your dealership, but would usually include:

  • Discussing the customers' needs and advising them on the most suitable vehicle.
  • Arranging test-drives.
  • Negotiating the sale price, including any 'trade-in' value for customers' old cars.
  • Working out finance arrangements, including cash payments and car loans.
  • Highlighting extra products to customers, such as accessories or after-sales service.
  • Completing related paperwork and pre-delivery inspections.
  • Updating stock lists, placing orders for new cars from manufacturers and buying in used cars.
  • Keeping existing and potential customers informed about new vehicles and deals.
  • Keeping the fore-court and vehicles clean and tidy.

In large dealerships, you may work as part of a team, specialising in one aspect of selling. In smaller garages, you could be involved in all areas of the job.

You would usually work a basic 40 hour week, between 8am and 6pm. This could include weekend shifts and it is common to work into the evening during busy periods.

You would normally work in a showroom and office. You would spend some of your time showing customers around cars on the fore-court and taking people for test-drives.

New entrants earn between £10,000 and £13,000 a year. Experienced staff can earn a basic salary of £14,000 to £17,000, rising to £25,000 after commission and bonuses.

Top earners can make over £35,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You could work for franchised dealerships set up by manufacturers to sell only new cars, or dealerships selling both new and used vehicles.

You will often be expected to have previous sales experience, although some employers place more importance on your confidence, your ability to persuade people, and your knowledge of cars and the motor industry. They may test your ability to 'close a sale' as part of the interview.

You will need a full, clean driving licence for most jobs, but you do not usually need formal qualifications.

Education and Training

You could get into this career through a vehicle sales Apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

See the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) website for more information about careers in the motor industry.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You would be given on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced salesperson, usually covering sales techniques and assessing used vehicles.

As it is becoming more important to gain qualifications within the industry, you could be encouraged to work towards NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Vehicle Sales.

The IMI offers relevant qualifications, such as the Certificate and Diploma in Vehicle Sales, and Automotive Retail Management.

You may also be asked to attend short courses offered by car manufacturers. These are designed to improve your selling techniques, update you on mechanical and electronic advances, and to introduce new features and models of cars.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An car salesperson needs:

  • Self-confidence and an outgoing personality.
  • A polite and professional approach.
  • Good negotiating skills and a persuasive manner.
  • A genuine interest in motor vehicles.
  • Good maths skills for working out costs.
  • Good business sense.
  • The ability to work alone without direct supervision.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could be promoted to showroom supervisor, senior sales adviser, dealership administrator, or sales and marketing manager.

You may be able to move into vehicle leasing or set up your own business, running your own dealership.

Get Further Information

Automotive Skills Ltd,
93 Newman Street, London W1T 3DT
Tel: 020 7436 6373 or careers line: 0800 093 1777

Institute of the Motor Industry
Fanshaws, Brickendon Hertford SG13 8PQ
Tel: 01992 511521

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