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Car Sales Manager, How the Role Has Changed in 5 Years

Posted on Apr 10th, 2012

As a Car Sales Manager today in the retail automotive sector the role has changed immensely over the past five years.

The role as a Car Sales Manager has always been one of the most complex sales management roles there is in any industry. A typical Car Sales Manager has the responsibility, control and management of so many areas which includes:

  • New vehicle stock
  • Used vehicle stock
  • Finance and insurance
  • Staff
  • Customer relationship management
  • Marketing
  • Targets and objectives
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Manufacturer relationships
  • Recruitment
  • Training and development
  • Expense control

We could very easily make a further five or six sub-headings under each of the responsibilities identified above. There is no doubt this is and always has been a challenging role and one where only the best and most talented Sales Managers really shine through. When any area starts to decline just by taking your eye of the ball for a few days the department can fall apart creating enormous problems with profitability if not in the short term certainly in the long term. 

Our recent survey of Car Sales Managers carried out in March 2012 shows 71% feel that the role is more challenging than it has been in the last five years. It also shows that marketing and the internet is an area of the role that has changed the most but also 43% stated their responsibilities had increased during the same period.

Without a doubt the internet that so many thought would open up greater sales opportunities has for many only created greater price comparisons for consumers and so knowing your competitors, their offers and prices has become a daily task and priority for many Car Sales Managers. To a large extent this appears to be showing through the survey as increased responsibility, but possibly should be “increased workload” as it has always been a responsibility.

Our survey also pointed out that the used car stock issue that has been suggested in some reports and automotive media has not been felt by the Sales Managers we surveyed, only 14% of those surveyed suggested used car stock was an issue to source. However there was a general feeling of used car values rising but customer expectations on used car prices were going in the opposite direction making purchasing the right stock at the right price ever more important.

We surveyed Car Sales Managers in March to also gauge how they felt about new car sales in the biggest month of the year. Two clear messages were being sent through the survey. New car prices were rising fast and availability was poor for many franchises; however the survey did not show a particular trend towards any one manufacturer.

It was not too long ago that the war of the manufacturers was on for whom delivered the shortest lead times from customer order to factory build with some manufacturers achieving 12 weeks. We now hear of 12 months. The global economy has certainly had a major impact on vehicle build times in the efforts to reduce costs and stabilise the industry. 

As a Car Sales Manager in today’s market the role has definitely become more complex with greater workload and higher demands. This coupled with difficult trading conditions and expenses being reduced to an absolute minimum the role is tough to say the least but those who excel at the role are still shining through and standing out against the competition!

  • What training could be given to assist Sales Managers as the role becomes ever more complex?
  • What additional support and assistance could be given by more senior managers?
  • Will Car Sales Managers continue to be promoted from the sales team or is it a diffrent type of capability and skill thats required going forward?
  • Has the role for the larger dealers become too big and thus must have New and Used Car Sales Managers roles split to succeed? 

Our Car Sales Manager survey remains open for further responses and we look forward to your comments at the end of this blog.


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