Vehicle Sales Executive

The Job and What's Involved

Vehicle sales executives sell new or used vehicles including cars, motorbikes, vans and commercial trucks. They may specialise in one make of car, or sell a variety.

Duties may vary between different employers, but are likely to include:

  • Greeting customers, discussing their needs and advising on the most suitable vehicle.
  • Showing customers the vehicles that are available and describing their features.
  • Arranging test drives and accompanying customers on them.
  • Explaining additional features such as MP3 players, air-conditioning, special body paint and upholstery options.
  • Providing customers with manufacturers' brochures.
  • Using manufacturers' databases to check the availability of new vehicles.
  • Negotiating prices and incentives to buy.
  • Discussing and arranging finance packages, following strict rules set by the Financial Services Authority.
  • Processing orders.
  • Arranging registration plates, road tax and delivery.
  • Updating customers about the progress of their order.
  • Carrying out pre-delivery inspections of vehicles before completing a handover to customers.
  • Inspecting vehicles that have been brought in for sale or part-exchange, checking mileage, service records, bodywork and general condition and negotiating a trade-in or purchase price.
  • Keeping vehicles and showrooms clean, tidy and attractive.
  • Organising newspaper advertisements and other publicity.
  • Updating websites with relevant offers and promotions.

There is a great deal of competition between vehicle retailers, and vehicle sales executives are usually set monthly targets. This can lead to a certain amount of pressure at work.

Vehicle sales executives usually work around 40 hours a week, which is likely to include some weekend and evening working to cover the busiest trading times. Part-time work may be available.

Working environments vary from employer to employer. Large franchised dealerships usually have bright, spacious, modern premises in prominent locations.

Independent dealers may have smaller, more basic premises. Vehicle sales executives may spend time outdoors, showing customers around forecourts and taking them on test drives.

It is important to create a good impression, so a smart, well-groomed appearance is essential. A driving licence is required although some dealerships cannot insure people to drive company cars if they are under 21 years old.

Starting salaries for trainees may be between £9,000 and £15,000 a year. Basic earnings for experienced sales executives may reach between £20,000 and £35,000 a year with commission and bonuses.

Successful sales executives in senior roles may earn £50,000 or more, including commission.

Vehicle sales executives usually receive a basic salary plus commission on sales and bonuses for meeting sales targets. They may also receive other benefits such as a company car.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The UK motor industry has over 17,000 dealerships and garages in towns and cities throughout the UK. Between them, they employ about 220,000 vehicle sales executives.

Employers include:

  • Franchised dealerships owned by manufacturer networks.
  • Local operators, privately owned, but linked to one or more vehicle brands.
  • Large, car 'supermarkets' or independent garages, selling various makes and models of new and used vehicles.

Some dealerships also specialise in fleet sales, dealing with companies that want to hire, lease or buy large volumes of vehicles.

Vacancies are advertised at Jobcentre Plus offices, in local newspapers and on the websites of individual employers, as well as through specialist recruitment consultants.

Education and Training

There are no minimum entry qualifications to become a vehicle sales executive. However, candidates are expected to demonstrate a good standard of literacy and numeracy as well as good communication skills. Employers may prefer candidates with some GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications, including English and maths. Previous experience in sales or working with people is an advantage.

The Diploma in engineering and in retail may be relevant.

Many people enter this career through Apprenticeships. Applicants for Apprenticeships in vehicle sales are usually over 18.

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

Some of the larger manufacturers offer graduate training schemes, often leading to a national qualification recognised by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Apprentices work towards NVQ Level 2 or 3 in vehicle sales as well as technical certificates. Training may combine on the job training from experienced colleagues with classroom learning and, in some cases, computer-based learning.

Other entrants to vehicle sales usually start in a junior or trainee position and receive on the job training from their employer. They may attend courses on topics like sales and negotiation skills.

It is important to keep up to date with the latest developments by attending short courses or continuing professional development (CPD) events. The employer may arrange attendance or it may the sales executives own responsibility to ensure they receive regular training on product knowledge, new vehicles, models and features and special promotions in order to keep up with the market.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A vehicle sales executive should:

  • Be confident and outgoing.
  • Have excellent listening and communication skills.
  • Be confident with numbers and the financial aspects of sales.
  • Focus on building and maintaining good customer relations.
  • Be able to explain technical information.
  • Be persuasive, with good negotiation skills.
  • Be organised and calm when under pressure.
  • Work well in a team and on their own initiative.
  • Be confident using IT software packages.
  • Be smart and well-presented.

Your Long Term Prospects

Taking further qualifications and joining a professional body, such as the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) or the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM), may improve prospects of promotion. Qualifications available include:

  • IMI Certificate (Level 2) and Diploma (Level 3) in Vehicle Sales.
  • IMI Certificate in Automotive Management at Level 3.
  • IMI Certificate in Automotive Retail Management at Level 5.
  • ISMM Level 2 Award and Certificate in Sales and Marketing.
  • ISMM Level 3 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Advanced Sales and Marketing.
  • ISMM Level 4 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Operational Sales and Marketing.
  • ISMM Level 5 Diploma in Sales and Account Management.

Opportunities for promotion vary between employers. In a large dealership promotion may be possible from sales executive to business manager, sales manager and sales director positions. People working for smaller organisations may have to change employers to progress.

It is possible for skilled, experienced vehicle sales executives to start their own vehicle sales businesses, but start-up costs are very high.

Get Further Information

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI),
Fanshaws, Brickendon,
Hertford SG13 8PQ
Tel: 01992 511 521
Website: and

The Institute of Sales Management (ISM),
18 King William St, London, EC4N 7BP
Tel: 020 3167 4790

The Motor Cycle Industry Association,
1 Rye Hill Office Park, Birmingham Road,
Allesley, Coventry CV5 9AB
Tel: 02476 408000

Retail Motor Industry Association,
201 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5AB
Tel: 020 7580 9122

The Society of Motor
Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT),
Forbes House, Halkin Street,
London SW1X 7DS
Tel: 020 7235 7000

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