This column is part of an ongoing series in which I highlight different positions within the dealership to educate readers on the many career opportunities, in accounting, fixed operations, human resources, detailing, business development and digital marketing.
This week I will focus on the salesperson (a.k.a. product adviser) — in this case, Suhail Pineda, who has been selling cars at my Toyota dealership for four years.
The two words that best describe what Suhail is all about are “personable” and “positive.” Suhail has many other great qualities, too, and to be successful in automotive sales requires many skills and talents.
Suhail had worked in sales in the insurance industry for 25 years, and was looking for a change when she received a call from Toyota.
That phone call literally changed Suhail’s life — for the better. With her engaging personality and willingness to embrace a challenge, Suhail decided to pursue a new career in automotive sales.
By her own admission, the first few months on the job were difficult. Suhail underwent a sales training program to familiarize herself with the Toyota brand and its products. She also had to pass the mandatory Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council’s Automotive Certification Course for salespersons.
In addition to encountering a learning curve, English is Suhail’s second language (Spanish is her first). Nevertheless, she was determined not to let her language struggles or her rookie status in the industry stand in the way of achieving success.
Making the transition from insurance to automotive had its challenges, Suhail once told me. However, our welcoming environment gave her the support and confidence she needed to develop her automotive-sales skills.
Today, four years after joining us, Suhail is a top producing salesperson / product adviser. She could not be happier, meeting clients from diverse backgrounds and helping them with their transportation needs.
For Suhail, automotive sales is less about the product and more about developing relationships with customers. She is a very open, honest person who loves to work in our relaxed, family-type environment. She is not averse to giving customers a hug when she sees them, or when delivering a vehicle.
“When you are open to learn and you love people, you will do well in automotive sales,” Suhail has often said. That sums up the attitude and mindset that we look for when hiring new salespeople.
The “open to learn” part of Suhail’s job is just as rewarding for her as interacting with customers. All successful automotive salespeople have one thing in common: a passion for continuous learning and improvement.
In retail auto sales, there is no standing still; the industry, the vehicles, the technologies and the platforms are evolving too fast. Customers are more informed than ever, and salespeople must know as much, if not more, than our customers.
Suhail (and our entire sales team) participates in regular training from Toyota University. She constantly reads about our industry and about competing brands. She utilizes a data management system to help keep track of her customers and works with an independent sales trainer.
For her hard work and dedication, Suhail has built a sizable customer base from across southern Ontario, including many repeat and referral customers.
Automotive salespeople come from many different backgrounds and industries. The most successful auto salespeople share a love of people and a passion for learning.
For anyone interested in a career in retail automotive sales, I urge you contact your local new-car dealership and speak with a sales manager or salesperson.
And once again, the TADA is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our Association has donated a brand new 2018 Acura NSX (valued at $235,158.65). The Rock The Raffle draw will take place at the 2019 Canadian International AutoShow. For ticket information, visit www.rocktheroadraffle.ca.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to [email protected] or go to tada.ca. Susan Gubasta is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president/CEO of Mississauga Toyota. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.
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