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Change Your Habits and Make More Money Selling Cars

Here’s a challenge: Change how you sell, practice the new approach I outline here for 90 days, and if you aren’t selling more cars and making more money, give me call.


This is what I want you to change: Stop waiting for and chasing ups!


Waiting for ups is a losing game. If your goal is to earn $100,000 a year selling cars, your selling habits have to change to make that possible.


What do you have to change? As the saying goes, just about everything. I guarantee you, however, if you do the payoff will be significant – for you and the dealership employing you!

The bad math of ups selling

Earning $100K or more a year selling cars these days is entirely possible. Didn’t you become a car sales professional because you wanted to control your destiny and get well paid for the effort?


Well, let me ask you, how’s that plan going for you?


How many units do most sales associates sell these days, six to eight a month? Considering today’s mini commissions on new car sales and tighter margins on used units, only an unmarried person living rent-free with mom and dad can make it long term selling just six to eight units a month.


Here’s the math. A typical new-car mini commission of $100 times eight new car sales a month equals $800. Even if half those sales were used units with commissions of $800 per vehicle plus four-new sales with $100 minis, the total monthly commission check would be $3,600 (minus any shared F&I). Better for sure, but you didn’t get into car sales to earn just $43K a year did you?


A better formula

If you want to earn $100K a year and really enjoy selling cars for a living, here’s how I suggest you change your selling process.


  1. Stop relying on ups for your business.  Forget the huddles and other activities sales people love to cling to but are counterproductive and true attitude killers!

  2. Focus your core sales opportunities on customers you’ve sold already as well as other customers residing in the customer database. This is the list of customers and prospects you likely inherited from the associate whose seat you took or was handed to you by your sales manager.

  3. Develop a work plan that focuses 75 percent of your time on prospecting new business from this database. Limit your time for showroom ups to a minimum; they feel productive but too often are not, which you know all too well.

  4. Consider a work plan that segments customers in your database to those having done business with you or the dealership within the last 90, 60 and 30 days. Using customer letter templates in your dealership CRM, write your own customized message to customers in each group. Reintroduce yourself. Use the occasion to invite them by your desk for a complimentary oil-change coupon or other enticing offer or gift. Be sure to follow up via email or mail each month – your goal is to keep your name in front of your customer!  Ninety percent of the customers a dealership engages will never hear from that dealership or that sales associate again, creating a rich opportunity for any associate who wants to chart their future for a profitable life selling cars.

  5. Develop good phone skills. Learn to prospect current customers’ households, as the average household in America has three other vehicle owners or drivers, all potential business for a sales associate willing to go after it.

  6. Develop better interpersonal skills. You’d think a professional sales person would be adept at fluid conversation, but even I sometimes have to “fake it ‘til I make it” when it comes to engaging with strangers. Yet it is this kind of personal charisma that can be developed and that the $100,000-a-year sales pros use every day in all kinds of situations outside the dealership to promote themselves.


My final suggestion is valid whether you take me up on my challenge or chose to pursue your status quo, and it is this:

Maximize every minute of your day on the job. To earn $100,000 selling cars eight hours a day, five days a week, recognize that your time value is 92 cents or so a minute.  How you go about maximizing the potential of those 2,400 minutes a week is up to you.


You can fiddle too much of those precious minutes away hoping you’ll get the next up or you can prospect the sales opportunities residing in your database, working customer households and customer referrals, all potential new business for the sales associate who truly wants to earn $100,000 or more a year selling cars.


Do you have the drive, desire, discipline and motivation to make a good living selling cars?


Views: 4659

Tags: CAR, CRM, Customer, Kelly, Patrick, Relationship, XRM, management, motivation, motivational, More…speaker


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Comment by Patrick Kelly on January 17, 2013 at 5:31am

Thanks for the comments! Great addition Jim.

Comment by Travis Mitchell on January 10, 2013 at 12:52pm


Comment by Jim Boldebook on January 10, 2013 at 11:24am

excellent list Patrick.  All the good basics.  May I add one more.  BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU DO!  The most successful salespeople..selling the most vehicles, making the most money CONSISTENTLY are the ones who are openly proud of what they do and tell everyone...everywhere...every time they get the chance.  They tell friends, relatives, neighbors, fellow parishoners, meeting goers...even strangers they meet in an elevator!  This is a great business for people who believe in themselves and what they do.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 10, 2013 at 11:15am

Contact Patrick Kelly at

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