What to Look for When Hiring an Automotive Sales Manager

BY Kathy Crosett
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In our research on credibility, only 20% of U.S. adults believe car salespeople are trustworthy in what they do and say. One way to improve this situation is to know what to look for when hiring an automotive sales manager. Since car salespeople score lower than most other professions on the credibility scale, your dealership can stand out if you hire the right sales manager. This key staff member can train your reps to behave more credibly and increase sales. 

By now, you may have realized that your selling sales rep usually can’t transition into being a top manager. The job requirements are vastly different. A great rep spends their time trying to sell as many cars as possible. A great sales manager helps reps develop the skills they need to increase sales. Pay attention to these differences as you set out to hire your next sales manager. Here are a few qualities you should be looking for.


Your next sales manager should demonstrate empathy for the selling situations their reps encounter. Reps may be struggling to sell the overly large inventory of electric vehicles on the lot. Or they may be challenged by the need to move last year’s models. When a sales manager can show they understand and care about the situation, reps will feel better about trying to close more deals.

Desire to Develop Others

Sales managers often need to talk less and listen more. Specifically, they need to listen to what their reps want help with. Managers might take the easy path to developing their reps and work on the skills they’re most comfortable with. When a rep is struggling to bring internet-​based leads into the dealership for a test drive, sales managers should help them practice their phone-​based and video-​based selling skills.

Motivational Capabilities

Reviewing resumes and listening to candidates boast about their motivational capabilities can bewilder any organization leader. What they need is hard data to show whether an individual possesses the ability to gain commitment from their team members. A good sales skills competency assessment will reveal managerial tendencies that candidates may not understand about themselves. You need a sales manager who can motivate reps to buy into the dealership’s goal to sell the maximum number of new and used vehicles.


As many dealership owners know, it is one thing to promise to maintain a specific activity level and another thing to actually make all of those calls and test drives. Holding reps accountable is another core sales manager responsibility. Alan Ram puts it succinctly on his site when it comes to being accountable for calls. “For example, in order to have accountability on inbound sales calls, managers must actually listen to these calls — just as coaches review game film. When salespeople know that they are being listened to, and that they will be held accountable for their performance, their effort level naturally rises.” 

Listening in on calls is time consuming. But the activity also generates opportunity for the manager to coach their reps on how to improve the outcomes of these calls.

Hiring an Automotive Sales Manager

We don’t have to tell you how expensive it is when you make a hiring mistake. The wrong kind of sales manager can drive out great sales reps and send customers running for the competition. Use a sales skills assessment to find the candidate who possesses the right work and managerial style for your organization and you’ll be able to sell more vehicles this year.