Anyone who has worked in sales knows it can deliver high highs and low lows. Dry spells are rough, people can be difficult from time to time, and sometimes it doesn't seem like there's much rhyme or reason to why some months are bonanzas and others feel like a drought.
In my 13 years of selling cars, I've never found a specific formula for making every month perfect, but I have figured out a few secrets that make sales less stressful and yield better returns than trying to force the process. If you respect people, make yourself a resource, and listen, you're not just convincing someone to buy--you're becoming a trusted partner people will rely on for years.
These tips are industry and audience agnostic. I believe they can work for selling anything to anyone. At our dealership in Dallas, we sell everything from reliable family cars to custom Jeeps and rare luxury finds that connoisseurs scour the world for. You'd think it would be difficult to appeal to everyone from a dad buying his daughter's first car to exacting luxury enthusiasts in Dubai, but the truth is, when you stick to a few simple philosophies, the rest falls into place.
Don't let age stand in your way.
This rule applies no matter how old you are. Salespeople range from new college grads to almost-retirees who are starting over and everything in between, and most salespeople have had other careers at some point. Whether you are a newbie or mature, don't let your birth year get in your way. Hard work, knowledge, ethics, and reliability are ageless. You can succeed when you focus on those qualities and execute them.
Make it about them, not you.
Yes, you want to make a sale. Yes, there may be a lot of pressure to win. But even though you have a lot going through your head when you're trying to sell, try to forget about your own stakes and focus on the client. They're thinking about price, warranty, the most bang for their buck, and other factors, such as what their spouse wants. If you forget your agenda, get to know the person and their lifestyle, and put their needs first, you'll get their attention and earn their trust faster.
Listen more than you talk.
So many salespeople are so intent on "selling" that they don't know when to stop talking. Don't launch into long speeches about features or start jockeying over price. Relax, ask questions, and then listen. Monologues don't just make people feel pushed around, they are usually on the boring side, so tell people what's most important and be available for questions. If you don't listen to your client, you can't serve their needs, and you probably won't cinch the sale. You want your clients to leave knowing that they made the right buying decision. If you listen, you're capable of leading them to the best purchase for their needs.
Read the situation.
Every person is different. It's important to observe every situation and start listening to your instincts. If it's obvious that a husband is on board but your gut tells you the wife is on the fence, ask about her priorities. Is she concerned about safety, accessibility, space, or price? Once you learn to perceive the back story, you can leverage your expertise to make personalized suggestions and recommendations.
Be patient. Some sales require nurturing.
Some people can make decisions in less than five minutes, and others take weeks or longer to mull over options. Many salespeople are so obsessed with closing the deal that they don't give people breathing room. Constant browsers may seem like time suckers, but long term loyalty will pay you back for years. If you can offer every customer respect and the willing gift of your time, you can earn repeat business for years to come and a good reputation to boot. It's better to collect lifelong clients than lose people forever because you're in a rush.
Being successful in sales is about earning people's trust. Once they know you're hardworking, knowledgeable, and keep your promises, you can win loyalty no one can buy. Being a great salesperson isn't about tactics; it's about being genuine, helpful, and respectful. If you can relax, listen, and focus on the client, people will return to you for years to come.
A longtime car enthusiast, Davis Speight began his automotive career selling Porsches. He currently serves as general manager of Starwood Motors in Dallas, one of the state's fastest growing pre-owned luxury dealerships and custom Jeep shops.