Automotive general sales managers are responsible for building profitable sales of new and used cars, trucks and vans in dealerships or outlets. They manage a team of sales representatives who may specialize in a category such as commercial vehicles or secondhand sales, depending on the size of the outlet. To run their operations successfully, these managers must undertake training to develop management skills as well as product and market knowledge.
The role of general sales manager is a key position in the dealership management team. To fulfill the role requires solid automotive sales experience, coupled with industry-specific training.programs available from organizations such as the National Automobile Dealers Association, The Automotive Training Academy and NCM Associates. A bachelor’s degree that includes courses such as business law, management, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, marketing or statistics provides an important general qualification for management.
Background in the Market
To lead and motivate a team of automotive sales consultants, general sales managers must have broad experience of all aspects of dealership sales. They supplement formal training programs with successful careers as sales consultants. To make the transition to general sales management, they must gain experience as team leaders or sales managers of a division such as trucks, vans or cars.
Developing General Management Skills
To develop the skills required for general management, managers can attend residential courses run by training organizations such as the Special Ops Program via the National Automobile Dealers Association Academy, or participate in customized programs delivered at the dealership. General sales management programs, such as those available from NCM Associates, focus on skills such as managing the sales process, opportunity management and prospecting, recruiting and training new sales consultants, and sales compensation.
Improving Sales Management Skills
General sales managers also need to maintain their personal sales skills, particularly if they are responsible for dealing directly with fleet business or corporate customers in smaller outlets. Courses, such as those offered by The Automotive Training Academy, develop forecasting and negotiating skills, in addition to sales management skills such as recruiting and training representatives, planning and conducting meetings and performance reviews, and motivating sales teams.
Maintaining Product and Market Knowledge
To ensure that dealerships have up-to-date information on products and market developments, automotive manufacturers provide training programs in a range of formats. Ford, for example, offers e-learning programs that general sales managers can use to update their own knowledge and run training sessions for their teams. Manufacturers also run training programs when they launch new models. They may run regional training events for sales managers and representatives, in addition to national launch events.
2016 Salary Information for Sales Managers
Sales managers earned a median annual salary of $117,960 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, sales managers earned a 25th percentile salary of $79,420, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $168,300, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 385,500 people were employed in the U.S. as sales managers.