Fast cars, smooth talking

Selling BMWs for a living requires plenty of people skills, negotiation techniques and relationship management – but driving a fast car is a perk.  Alex Brooks talks to Bib Stillwell BMW Special Vehicles Manager Jason Smith for ninemsn’s careers section.

BMW profile.

Former law student Jason Smith has the gift of the gab. At 19, he was working in hospitality when one of the hotel’s best clients suggested he sell cars in her dealership.

“I gave it a go and loved it – law went out the window from that day on,” he says. “I enjoy the challenge of the chase and 15 years later, the chase is still there for me.”

“Selling cars is all about establishing someone’s needs. From then on, it’s fun and you think outside the square to offer a solution to any objection they have. You have to be able to read people and understand them. Some deals are orchestrated events that take years to come off,” he says.

“I had one guy who was a Mercedes Benz driver. I really wanted to convert him into a BMW driver and I lent him a car, but he went and bought another Merc. Six months later, I called him up and asked if he was enjoying his Merc. I rang him again six months later and again six months later – that time the Mercedes dealership service crew had upset the guy. Now he’s driving a $130,000 5 series BMW.”

Smith also drives a 5 series BMW, provided by his dealership as one of the perks of his job. “I’ve had three cars in the last two months. It makes it interesting driving home each day,” he says. “There’s not a chance I eat or drink in that car – it has to be in showroom condition at all times.”

Smith has sold cars in West Australia and the Northern Territory before working for BMW in Melbourne, where he sells high-end cars that retail for more than $200,000. He works in a slick South Yarra showroom, wears a suit and tie every day and aims to sell 36 cars a year.

Car sales professionals are paid a retainer and a monthly commission, which is usually based on the percentage of retained profit on each car they sell. Smith works an 11-day fortnight, but plenty of car sales professionals work six days a week.

“If you have a month where you only take home retainer, it can be really lean,” he says. “Most BMW consultants earn at least $70,000-plus, no problem, but to earn over $100K is very achievable.”

 

  • BMW trains all its sales consultants and requires them to wear suits and ties at all times.
  • The sales profession has changed during the last five years, according to Smith – “It’s more about forming relationships than trying to sell something. A customer won’t buy unless there is a win for them. It’s the sales person’s role to create that win-win.”
  • Car sales consultants are usually paid a retainer and a commission, which is based on retained profit of each car sold. They are also given a dealership car to drive.
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