5 Things Car Salespeople Wish All Customers Knew

Car sales as a profession has been a prominent part of American life for over 100 years. As long as people have bought automobiles, there has been a need for the men and women who sell them.

Unfortunately, there have also been a lot of misconceptions about car salespeople throughout that time. Some of them have been as a result of shady operators, and others from movie characters playing sleazy salesmen, but the overwhelming majority of honest salespeople have paid the price.

Because of this, there are some things that car salespeople wish that you knew about them and the car buying process. Here are the five most important things:

1. We don’t have much control over your payment

Despite what you may think or might have heard from a friend, car salespeople have almost no control over how much your car payment is going to be. Your payment is determined by the price of the vehicle you’re purchasing, the value of your trade-in (if there is one), how much money you’re putting down, your credit score, the current market lending rate (for people with your credit profile), and the length of your loan term.

While salespeople sometimes have a bit of flexibility on the pricing of certain vehicles, every other aspect of your payment is entirely out of their control. Also, even if you do find a vehicle that has some wiggle room on price, a $1000 price discount on a vehicle only ends up saving you about $18 a month on a 5-year payment.

2. Your car’s trade in value will depend on its condition

Car salespeople would love to give you what you’re asking for your trade-in vehicle every time, because it would help us earn your business, but it’s just not possible. KBB and other value estimation websites are also not always accurate in their assessments. Your car’s value will depend on its condition, the state of the market, and the dealership’s likelihood of being able to do something with the vehicle after it’s been traded in.

This is why it helps to take great care of your vehicle, both mechanically and cosmetically. If it’s in great shape, and is a marketable vehicle, then you’re more likely to get what you’re looking for when it comes to its trade-in value, as long as your expectations are reasonable.

3. Margins on vehicles are relatively small

Margins on cars are nowhere even close to what they once were decades ago. The internet has definitely helped drive down prices for consumers, which in turn means much smaller margins for car salespeople. This isn’t meant to invoke pity, only to make the point that the dealership, and in turn the salesperson, is probably not making anywhere near what you think they’re making on a vehicle. 

In fact, many car salespeople only make what’s called a “mini” on a large percentage of their car deals. A mini is a flat-fee paid per vehicle, when there’s little to no profit involved for the dealer. An average mini is about $100 per car deal, not exactly a big reward for hours worth of work. 

4. We’re working-class folks, just like you

We oftentimes forget that car salespeople are regular working-class folks just like everybody else. Some have college degrees, and some don’t. We work very long hours to provide for our families, spending most of our time away from our spouses and children due to the demanding hours of automotive sales, and taking calls and answering emails even when we’re not at our store.

Many car salespeople do make a great living, but to say that we work for it is an understatement. All we ask is that you think of us the same way you think about other professionals who work hard to get ahead, we just happen to work in an industry that has sometimes been unfairly maligned.

5. We truly want to help you

This might be one of the toughest things for the general public to understand about automotive salespeople. We want to help you, because if we can help you, then it helps us. Our goal is to make you as happy as possible in your new (or used) car, so that you come back to us year after year and recommend us to all of your friends and family.

Yes, there are some people who get into car sales for a quick buck, but they never, ever last long. It’s the people who want to make a difference in your life and community that end up having staying power, and become a trusted resource for you for years to come.


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