Edmunds dealer partner, Bayway Leasing, is now offering transparent lease deals via these forums. Click here to see May lease deals!

Confessions of a Car Salesman

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited August 2015 in General
imageConfessions of a Car Salesman

Confessions of a Car Salesman article on Edmunds.com

Read the full story here


  • Options
    jpricejrjpricejr Member Posts: 1
    Outstanding article with terrific insight and advice. Reads like a novel. This guy really went all out to do the digging. He is going places.
  • Options
    striker33striker33 Member Posts: 2
    Excellent article...
  • Options
    siyusiyu Member Posts: 1
    Awesome article,give me ideas and confidence to deal with dealer tomorrow!
  • Options
    karl4111karl4111 Member Posts: 2
    I have sold cars for 18 years for both kinds of dealerships, and this is the most accurate article that I have ever read, on the subject. The point that the author didnt make but is obviuos as you read it is remarkably the agressive dealers have far more floor traffic....Why?
  • Options
    karl4111karl4111 Member Posts: 2
    Im going to answer my own question...because basiclly we are like sheep and want to be lead. Thats what the big stores do, just look how we are funneled to where they want us to go in Walmart.
  • Options
    dudemondudemon Member Posts: 1
    "confesions of a car salesman" is a joke. it's an article wriiten by a guy who spent a few weeks selling cars at a sleazeball dealership and had an agenda from day one. I've been in the business for 20+ years and have never heard of a dealer basing commisions on gross. Dealers do base commissions on volume, for example 0-8 units pays 22% 9-12 Pays 25% Retroactive etc. Also the finance depts get margins from the lenders. if you walk in off the street to BofA and apply for an auto loan and get 3.79% the dealer may get that same loan carried with BofA but get a "buy rate" of 2.9% from the bank therefore making a .89% yield spread. Edmonds would have you believe that because we send so much business to the lender and therefore get a discount that we are somehow being deceptive.
  • Options
    retiredcarguyretiredcarguy Member Posts: 1
    "Spiff" - Poor example.
    "Weak" - just post a pic of yourself.
    Edmunds TMV is a joke and U know that! Talk about giving buyers unrealistic expectations.
    BTW Greenpea - 3 months does NOT a car salesman make!
  • Options
    csthreattcsthreatt Member Posts: 0
    This was great information.
  • Options
    a_gunslingera_gunslinger Member Posts: 1
    Um... best article ever! Thank you. I consider myself a veteran haggler and have always fought for invoice deals. However, in reading this I can easily reflect back and see how the dealerships and salemen tried and used each and everyone of these techniques.
  • Options
    nita56nita56 Member Posts: 1
    amazing and so real. The dealership where I work at was so bad. And when I mentioned that some of their salesmen should be drawn and quartered for their customer services.I was reprimanded and fired. Told I'm the new girl I don't get to have an opinion.Customers(buys a $60,000.00) car calling in six times in one day and they are to busy trying to scam the next customer. Adding 2-4% to the rate just to make a profit. Customers staying there for eight hours because their credit is so bad. Then they get charged 25.99%. Then I'm told at my age appearently I know nothing about customer service. I'm a consumer every day. I was appaulled at the behavior and your article is the absolute truth.
  • Options
    p51d007p51d007 Member Posts: 1
    As you can guess, there are a lot of bad car dealers, and there are good ones. If you find a good one, STICK TO IT.
    My father retired as a car salesman after 32 years in 1999, and was ONE OF THE BEST. Small town (less than 5,000 population), but, he had clients all over the USA, and even a few in South America!
    I asked him long ago how he was so successful. He told me straight out, NEVER lie to a potential customer. Tell them the truth, straight out. Something I've carried with me to this day.
  • Options
    stainlesssteelstainlesssteel Member Posts: 1
    Good article. I WAS the sales manager at a very high production import dealer and not all of us were jerks. I was one of the best and ranked in the top 50 in the country. I was also the training manager for new hires. " needs based selling" like you had at the 'no haggle' store was the most effective of them all. Out of the thousands of car deals I either closed, to'ed or turned,very few customers paid too much. It was my experience that half of our customers could NOT pass a drug screen, thorough background check and basic math test, much less have the acumen to be a car salesperson.Customers lied about thier credit, lied about the condition of their cars, lied about accidents and service records, etc ad nauseum.Some of the most entertaining and intelligent men I have ever met was in the car business and although I'm not in the business any longer, I miss the comeraderie but I don't miss the hours or the lying customers who insisted on us buying their 100,000 mile 'highway miles' turd that had been hit more times than Joe Frazier, while insisting that we didn't have the right to make a profit because the 'interwebz told them so" Just do your reasearch on 3 cars you like, find a salesman you can trust and drive your new ride.
  • Options
    marychenovickmarychenovick Member Posts: 1
    What is a "reasonable" profit for a dealer to make on a car?
  • Options
    izzyriderizzyrider Member Posts: 1
    This article was hilarious, brought tears to my eyes with laughter. I always wanted to be a car salesman, well aware of the hard work, long hours and lack of respect for the job. I took the week long car sales course. The description of the participants and instructor was spot on. I too was out of a job after a long career. I learned to shake hands in the correct manner. Never actually took a sales job as they wanted me to pay to take the rest of the course, another sales job by the instructor. Loved the "tuna" story, best part of the entire article, guess that is why they went out of business. I bought that brand of vehicle for my daughter, never saw another "up" in the showroom other than my self, and the sales person was a female. She was very pleasant, enjoyed the experience, but alas she was gone in two months. No tuna, no money. Next time I buy another car, I'll remind the sales person he not scoring a "pounder" on this sale, better expect a "mini".
  • Options
    dealernerddealernerd Member Posts: 1
    Sorry my friend, this is not the normal experience for car salespeople. A real car salesperson would recognize this dealership is disorganized and go to another dealership and make a decent living for their family. To qualify yourself as a cars salesperson you need to understand how many hours it takes to become certified and believe in the product your are selling. You are no Irving Silver or even know who his is, so do not call yourself Car Salesman. Its like being the stadium janitor and saying your in the NFL.
  • Options
    sancasanca Member Posts: 1
    Thanks for the knowledge.
    My wife is ready for a new SUV. Hopefully I can use something I learned from this article.
    One thing for sure is now I can walk away from aggressive, bullying salesperson.
  • Options
    stevie9stevie9 Member Posts: 2
    Interesting and pretty much what I remember. Except the pay. Most just pay 150 or 200 no matter how much the dealer made. They just play with those numbers too
  • Options
    equinox27equinox27 Member Posts: 2
    Very informative article for the vast majority. I spent 20 years in the car business, starting with selling Pontiacs, and ended up selling Jaguars and Ferraris. The majority of the new car sales information is correct.

    The no-haggle information is probably correct. however I worked for the only true no haggle car dealership in Florida, and no I am talking about Carmax. This dealership was so effective that the other 3 Chrysler dealerships in town bought them out.

    The sad thing is that it was very successful, for customers and employees. It is the way the car business should be. Would love for Edmunds to contact me about how this actually worked as it was back in the 1990's.

    Oh and a footnote. Prior to around 1957 new cars did not have prices on them and that is how dealers made their money, giving different prices to different people on the same car. Which is how the MSRP Manufacturers Sugessted Retail Price came into play, to help level the playing field. Which of course it did not.
  • Options
    equinox27equinox27 Member Posts: 2
    Sorry for the typo, I meant to say, no I am NOT talking about Carmax.
  • Options
    tifypop1tifypop1 Member Posts: 1
    I was a career auto sales man for over 32 years, and was very successful. I think it is laughable that this clown did i tfor two whole months, and pretends to know something about it. that is like me spending an evening in an nba locker room, and saying i know all about the nba life. you would need o know the highs and the lows to know what that is like, to be the best at your job, like a hired gun, in the old west, where your repuation preceeds you, and people say reverently, "i have heard of you." do you know what it is like to walk by the gm's office. and him beg you to take a three or four thousand dollar advance, cause he knows the cars you will sell to make up for it. or to have you gm advance you ten to twelve thousand dollars after a storm, because he does'nt want you to go someplace else when they re- open, this poor fellow is " a lost ball in high weeds."
  • Options
    carpoor3carpoor3 Member Posts: 1
    My wife and I had a horrible experience with Camelback Toyota in Phoenix, AZ.

    The deal was done until we met with Finance. Oh, my.... This clown wanted to talk about hunting and fishing while piling on "EXTRAS" to the deal. After two hours of saying NO, NO, NO, NO and being frustrated, we finally signed the papers.

    You can't believe the hard pressure to purchase CAR JACK to protect your car..... After all, Mexico is 3 hours away???

    Tire protection in case the helium in the tires leak???

    An extended warranty for $3,000.00 in case the car fails??? Doesn't Toyota warranty their cars when they are new???

    Scotch Guard the seats to protect against stains??? Uh, no kids!

    Be sure to take a condom with you if you deal with CAMELBACK TOYOTA in PHOENIX, AZ. You will need the protection!
  • Options
    colonelmustardcolonelmustard Member Posts: 0
    I'm not a car salesman, but I am in the sales profession, and I sell products that are also high-dollar, on a commission basis. For someone who complains so much about stereotyping, there sure was a lot of it in this article. I'm glad you cooled off, somewhat, by the end... but you are still harsh on owners and managers.
    Is it ok with you that the dealership makes money? I mean, that's why they are in business. Would you not agree that they offer a service? How much profit do you think they are entitled to? If you think that the car sales world is sleazy because it is profit based, you better go off and try some "undercover jounalism" in some other places. I'd start in real estate, stock brokerage, advertising sales, a travel agency, or just about any other industry that involves producing a good or service in exchange for capital.
    While we're on the subject, I've met plenty of [non-permissible content removed] jounalists in my time...
  • Options
    roksterrokster Member Posts: 1
    Thanks for the great story, it reminded me a lot of Bill Bryson's writing, making one laugh and (nearly) cry a lot. At least we will soon walk into a dealership well prepared and ready to negotiate.
  • Options
    bones1939bones1939 Member Posts: 1
    Why did you have to go undercover? ***On a mission to lie. Anyone that can fog a mirror can sense that you have no intentions on buying a car. Be a real hard working journalist and get a job a car salesperson and get the facts. YOU AS CONSUMER SHOULD KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. DEVELOPE A LIST ITEMS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU. ie:style, fuel effieciecy, budget. BEFORE YOU STEP ON TO A LOT AN WASTE PEOPLES TIME. THAT EXPEDITES THE WHOLE PROCESS.
  • Options
    tbahamatbahama Member Posts: 1
    I have been in the car business for 18 years, and this article is the worst written article I have ever read. It's like Edmund's took ever horror story and night mare they have ever heard and put it in this article. The first thing is no one in the franchise car business roles back or employees anyone who roles back odometers. People do prison time for that sort of thing these days. Automotive specialist now days come from all walks of life, college grads, included. We are people too. Not to mention the government uses our industry to track the economy. I think the most disappointment comes from Edmund's themselves. If it wasn't for all the car people in the country, from the lowliest custodian, through the tech's that turn wrenches right up through the high powered exec's like Rick Hendrick. There wouldn't be a place for Edmund's to even exist. I think this is a prime example of "Biting the hand the feeds you!"
  • Options
    ghostsales2ghostsales2 Member Posts: 2
    I am in car sales and have been for the past several years. This article is outdated. Much of these things aren't true anymore. Some yes, but most not anymore.

    First, Many dealerships don't use the sales square anymore. They have come up with different presentations for pricing. Many dealerships have become very competitive with pricing due to the increased presence of online shopping. Used car prices are so competitive that mark ups, or profit are very minimal.

    As far as the microphones in the booths and such, this isn't common anymore. Most dealerships have no microphones and don't use phones from the sales desk to the tower. THey just speak with the tower directly.

    Most dealerships are now much more Customer service oriented. Many laws have changed to make car sales easier.
  • Options
    ghostsales2ghostsales2 Member Posts: 2
    This article was published back in 2001. 12 years ago and lots of things are different now.

    Take into consideration that when this was written 9/11 hadn't happened,
    The shootings of Colorado in the movie theater hadn't happened and the bombings that happened last week hadn't happen.

    So much time has past and thus so many things are different.

    If you are a customer and plan to buy a car, I urge you not to go into the dealership thinking you are going to experience these things, because so many laws have changes. We even have a new president since then..2 elections.

    Things are different then they were back then. 12 years ago.
  • Options
    jb3138jb3138 Member Posts: 1
    If people only knew !no way ill buy a new car again ill get a year old or two.
  • Options
    pbeng12pbeng12 Member Posts: 1
    yeah gotta love the scum bag tactic these wretched low life "sales" reps use....
  • Options
    bkenisbkenis Member Posts: 1
    I really enjoyed that. I don't remember a story of this length ever popping up on the yahoo main stories, but it definitely read as a novel, as others have said. Very informative and insightful. Bravo!
  • Options
    jro76jro76 Member Posts: 1
    Oh my gosh! This is just what I've been looking for (and all my suspicions are true!). I am an older single woman who is going car shopping tomorrow so this is just the ticket! And thank you to edmunds.com for having such a great website. I have learned ALOT in the last few hours. Now I am armed and ready to do the deed.
  • Options
    billyocean1billyocean1 Member Posts: 2
    This article was written 12 years ago, can we get an update on the way dealers do things today? The internet has changed the way we buy since 2001.
  • Options
    duck64duck64 Member Posts: 1
    Personally...I have been involved in Sales since 1970 and I have only worked in one Dealership that worked this way and it was for a short period of time... I prefferd to learn how to be a Pro and take care of my customers and excel at what I was doing! Most people are smart enough to not fall for all the B/S that goes on, but in the same sentence a dealer like every business is in Business to make a profit and it ticks me off that all these former (Car Salesman) decide to confess their sins and are doing something else more admirable...Yeah Right... To the Consumer...want to eliminate the Trickery and B/S Just pay MSRP on what you want...that is the Price that the Manufacture says it should sell for , another thing as a consumer, quit trying to play tricks on the salespeople and treat them with respect and they will treat you the same!
  • Options
    oliversmitholiversmith Member Posts: 1
    Our new Car Dealers are by and large the safest to buy second hand cars in pune. they are sell only those second hand cars that are in good condition. The second hand buyers you are sold on more details for realistic price basic and good working order, how may years of using the cars infamous the sellers.
  • Options
    mulbnesormulbnesor Member Posts: 1
    I've been in the car business since the mid 1990's, this article is hilarious! I've been a salesperson, Finance Manager, Sales Manager, and GM at different dealerships in Southern California. The author is honestly about 90% spot on. I have my green pea salespeople read this article as part of their first week on the job. Nice job, not all of us in the business are crooked or evil. Many of us just want to earn a living and enjoy being around cars and customers.
  • Options
    maimamaima Member Posts: 0
    This article was worth a read.
  • Options
    narasimhannarasimhan Member Posts: 3
    thanks for the informative article
  • Options
    memyselfandi4memyselfandi4 Member Posts: 1
    Ha, I found this article looking for car buying tips and went to a dealership that night and sure enough they tried almost everything mentioned in this article. Fantastic read - thanks.
  • Options
    priceshopperpriceshopper Member Posts: 1
    This is the first time I saw this article. It's awesome! So informative and very enjoyable. Felt like I was reading a book which I couldn't put down. Great job!!!
  • Options
    autotrekker2autotrekker2 Member Posts: 2
    /This article pretty much accurately sums it up, the salesman are pressured by the desk or sale managers who very little of the actual work of selling the cars and dealing with the customers, while calculating maximum profits on each deal and expecting the sales staff to do the tough work of selling and "negotiating" while they have no recourse to actually change the price or terms of the deal, until a "closer "comes in who gets part of the deal and has been given some leeway to actually bargain on pricing and terms to make a deal happen. Some salesmen are given that leeway to actually negotiate price and terms at a certain level but they are usually the favorites of the desk man who get to offer better terms on the new car or the trade to finalize the deal. Now the floor sales people have to compete with the internet sales department who always can offer lower pricing, more choices that are at the tip of their fingertips on the computer screen, and often have pre -set appointments and often do not even do a test drive.
    The customer is at the mercy of many decades of using manipulative, tricky, and false techniques that seem to have been handed down from legions of former salesmen who clone the whole ridiculous charade time and time again. Often the most successful auto sales people often do not care anything about cars, it is just a chunk of metal to move and make a commission on, and they could care less about the needs or preferences of the customers, but they are so good at lying and acting sincere as they screw their customers and make them think that they are their best friends they can do it even if they are drunk or stoned or hung over. While the customer is leaving after a big glad -handed hug and smile, the salesman is talking to his buddies saying how he ripped their heads off. Now most of the profit and commissions go to the desk men and sales managers and the dealership, as customers are more savvy and internet wise about pricing and the cars that they have researched, and the salespeople get screwed. /A few salesmen who have established relationships with the desk man and get quick turnaround on the numbers so the customer does not have to wait long and can actually negotiate pricing or terms make a good living while the rest barely make it from pay check to paycheck.
    A salesman having a dry spell can actually end up owing the dealership for his "draw" even though he took as many ups and worked as many deals as another salesman whose customers bought instead of walked. The sales people are forced to use the old ways of manipulating the customer into the deal instead of being able to make the test drive and informational part and dealing part pleasant and low pressure. If a salesman actually informs the customer about the car and options they are accused of giving too much information. The desk man wants dumbed down salespeople to keep the customers confused and dumbed down, so they can be tricked or forced by pure exhaustion into signing deal that can often change from the time they agree in the sales office to buy until until they get into the finance office where the finance manager (who can make as much as the salesman who just spent 2-4 hours with the customer in twenty minutes) having them sign pre printed documents) then extracts more from them with offers for paint coatings etc and repair warranties.
    The buyer who does his or her research on the internet and gets financing pre-arranged from his or her bank is way ahead, and ones who use a service like Edmunds for both product and research and to determine fair pricing they are ready to pay for comparably equipped cars are going to be much more likely to save money and get more car and feel way better about their purchase later on. The more car buyers that do that the more it will force the retail car business to change and adapt and focus on real customer service and providing the best car matched to the customers' needs whether new or used, at a fair but still profitable price and win loyalty and earn return business so that they won't have to resort to phony telemarketing ploys during slow times or the inflated plastic ape on the roof and blow out inventory sales every single weekend.
    People love cars and it should not be a miserable manipulative high pressure experience to go to a dealership to see or buy one, nor should it be made that way for salespeople who actually like and care about cars and their customers as they are marvels of style and design and high technology that greatly affect their daily lives and are becoming more connected to their drivers and owner via technology.Making the auto purchase decision knowing that a fair and reasonable price has been determined can and would lead to a much more informed and comfortable buyer, as nothing is worse than thinking that you got ripped off in the second largest purchase you make except for your house, and a salesperson would be more respected for their product knowledge and customer service than for how much profit they squeezed from every customer they sold to. Auto sales people work ridiculously long hour and weekends and holidays and the current practice of the dealership paying $250 mini commissions to salesman when they lease a $60,000 dollar vehicle , or sell a $40,000 certified used vehicle to a customer is blatant thievery, which is why after eight years I left the car business. I still have friends whom I sold cars to, and that is the way that it should be, creating real relationships that last and building a return customer base, but that is not possible if the desk and the sale managers and the dealerships insist on maximizing the profit on every single deal, because that will only mean the buyers will be more shoppers armed with the internet and mobile phones, and well aware that they are seen as victims and targets and profit centers and not people, and will continue to have no loyalty to the dealership or the salespeople as it is an adversarial environment stacked in favor of the dealership.

    Until auto dealerships realize that is not a healthy nor ultimately as profitable of a way of doing business and keep wanting to keep both the salespeople and the customers in the dark like mushrooms so their managers can manipulate them the business will not change. Tools for smart buyers like Edmunds provides that inform potential buyer and make them more comfortable in making a buying decision are ultimately better for the dealerships and the salespeople and the customers so the focus can be on finding and selling the right car for the customer, not the one that is old inventory or makes the best profit at the moment. That would let the good salespeople who really care do their job better and make price not the only and major consideration in every car purchase. That is not to say the the dealer should sell every
    car at or below invoice nor give more for a trade than it is actually worth, fair and reasonable has to apply both ways, and customers can be highly unreasonable in expecting to get a loaded car at the base price. Both sides have to have reasonable expectations and that is why Edmunds price promise and upfront pricing makes a lot of sense in terms of transforming the auto buying process and simplifying it so it is a better experience for all.

  • Options
    ansoncardsansoncards Member Posts: 1
    This article was worth a read, but it was ultimately poor.
    Too much information was based on stories the author heard rather than first-had experiences he had.
    In one section e says to never tell a dealership what another dealership quoted, yet pitting one dealership against the other winds up being ne of his recommendations at the end.
    Finally, he breezes over the "why is it this way?" question without a single ounce of research. His answer is something he heard from a car salesman training seminar. Federal and State laws and regulations are 100% of the reason for the current situation. NPR did an excellent report on this last year as have countless others. It's not exactly a secret.
  • Options
    buyervigalantebuyervigalante Member Posts: 1
    edited August 2015
    I was a recent customer of a car dealership on the East Coast. I wish I had read this article before I began buying a new car. The car sales dopes that came crawling out of the woodwork after this article was written are sick pukes.

    I was scammed at a car dealership in Batlimore, MD. The scam was so criminal, and frightening that I can't see straight. When I was about to buy a Ford Escape, the dealer pretended the salesman was fired. They they switched salesmen in mid sale to jack the price up.

    They made up some lame scam that included frightening lies about the salesman. That he was being investigated.

    [non-permissible content removed]. I usually drop kick losers like that for breakfast. [non-permissible content removed] Car sales men are scary freaking lunatics.

    Beware of sleazy salesman. They will trick you.
  • Options
    cmhj2000cmhj2000 Member Posts: 381
    Haven't seen a car salesman that I'd trust in 45 years.
Sign In or Register to comment.