How much does a car salesman make and what do they do?

Updated 1 June 2023

If you enjoy communicating with new people and have an outgoing personality, a career as a car salesperson may be the right choice for you. Car salespeople usually operate on an average base salary, but there are several ways they can boost their income. Learning exactly how much a car salesman makes can help you make an informed decision about whether this career aligns with your financial goals. In this article, we discuss what a car salesman does, how much money they make, and outline ways they can earn additional income.

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How much does a car salesman make?

The answer to 'how much does a car salesman make?' can vary depending on a number of factors. The average salary for a car salesperson is £36,974 per year. This amount is the median salary across the industry, and therefore isn't indicative of higher or lower car salesman salaries. A car salesman's wage includes a base salary, which is usually somewhere around minimum wage, and commission pay. The majority of their earnings come from the commission, which fluctuates according to how much they sell.

The commission amount per sale is a percentage of the dealership profit rather than the car ticket price. This percentage is usually around 20 to 25 percent. For example, if you sell a car for £25,000 and the dealership makes a £7,000 profit, you earn £1,400 based on a 20 per cent commission rate. By this logic, your wage is dependent on how many cars you sell. Other factors that may affect a car salesperson's salary include customer demographics, geographical location, and the reputation of the dealership.

Related: 15 sales jobs that pay well

How to increase your car salesman salary

There are several ways to increase your earnings as a car salesman, despite the fact that your wage is primarily based on how many cars you sell. Some ways to increase your car salesmen salary include:

1. Relocate

It's not uncommon for dealerships to pay their car salesmen differently. This often depends on various factors, such as the size of the dealership, how established it is, and its geographical location. Here are some examples of how the national average salary of a car salesman differs between areas:

  • England: £36,974 per year

  • Wales: £35,026 per year

  • Scotland: £36,128 per year

  • Northern Ireland: £35,034 per year

Related: How to negotiate a relocation package and what to include

2. Boost your skills

Increasing your skill set is important if you're looking to boost how much commission you make rather than your base salary. A car salesman depends on communication and negotiation skills to secure deals with customers. Boosting your persuasive selling abilities is a good way to overcome customer resistance and convert them into buyers. Remember to make the customer feel valued by operating a personable approach – learning their names and using them in conversation.

Related: How to Develop Your Career Skill Set

3. Earn a degree

There is no legal requirement to hold a degree to become a car salesperson. However, having one could increase your promotion or job prospects in the future that come with higher salaries. Consider earning a degree in a relevant field, such as business, marketing, or sales. If you prefer to take the vocational route, you can undertake an apprenticeship in automobile repair or mechanics.

Related: How to become a car dealer (plus duties and skills)

4. Gain experience

The most successful car salesmen usually have several years of experience in the sales industry. Experience shows you have a proven track record when it comes to vehicle sales, which serves as a testament to your abilities. Experienced car salesmen are also sometimes required to take on more responsibilities, such as maintaining inventory or closing shop, which usually translates into higher salaries.

Related: How to answer 'Describe your sales experience' successfully

5. Take overtime

Car dealerships may offer employees overtime during busy periods or to cover absences. Although overtime isn't a reliable form of salary increase, it's an easy way to increase your earnings when you need to without extra responsibilities. If you show that you're willing to take overtime, you're also demonstrating your commitment to the dealership and are more likely to be considered for promotion over other employees.

Related: A complete guide to working overtime (with overtime tips)

What is a car salesman?

A car salesman is a sales representative who sells cars and additional services, such as warranties and maintenance plans, to customers. Car salespeople act as a point of contact for customers who are negotiating with a dealership regarding a vehicle transaction. They assist customers by understanding their needs and budgetary requirements before offering them an appropriate car. A car salesman needs to have a passion for sales and be willing to work regular business hours, including weekends.

Related: 'Why sales?' job interview question and how to answer (with examples)

What does a car salesman do?

The main responsibility of a car salesperson is to sell cars to prospective customers. This means they need to assist customers through all stages of the buying process and be on hand to answer their questions. Even though a car salesman primarily deals with customers, they operate on behalf of the dealership too and need to strike a deal that benefits both parties. This often involves liaising with supervisors or managers on potential sales. Some other general responsibilities include:

  • taking customers on test drives

  • understanding the capabilities, characteristics, and features of all vehicles

  • comparing competitive car models

  • maintaining record sales and inventory on CRM software

  • explaining warranty options to customers

  • preparing paperwork associated with sales

  • identifying customer needs through interviews and meetings

  • talking to customers about various car models and their features

  • staying up to date on all the latest advancements in the motor industry

  • negotiating sale prices and trade-ins

  • conducting tours around the dealership

  • using marketing techniques to reach out to more customers

  • collaborating with team members to reach company sales targets

  • financing after-sales, such as valeting and repairs

  • assisting customers with completing relevant sales paperwork

  • attending sales meetings

  • helping set up showrooms and promotional displays

Related: How to write a car sales representative CV

What you need to become a car salesman

Some dealerships are now choosing to move their car dealerships online to reach more customers, making the car sales industry more appealing to those who want to work at home. Here is what you need to become a car salesman in the UK:


The minimum entry requirement to become a car salesman is to have completed compulsory education. This means you attended school up until the age of 16 and managed to achieve five As to Cs in your GCSEs. This is equivalent to five 9s to 4s in the new marking criteria. You usually need to pass English and maths to be considered for a car salesman role.


Since car salesmen usually assist customers on test drives, it's essential that they obtain a driving licence before applying for any roles. Take your car theory test first before applying to take a practical test through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Although not necessary, it's better to pass your test in a manual vehicle as this means you're qualified to drive both a manual and automatic car.

Sales experience

Obtain sales experience to boost your chances of getting hired as a car salesperson. Your work experience doesn't have to correspond to the automobile industry, so expand your search to other customer-facing roles. Some roles that give you relevant sales experience include retail assistant, receptionist, and working on a customer helpline.

Related: How to write a sales cover letter (with examples)


Most dealerships prefer to train their salesmen in-house through on-the-job training. That way, they can learn about the products the company currently sells and ask questions where necessary. It's important to know the ins and outs of a product so you feel confident answering customer queries and recommending appropriate vehicles. On top of learning about products, you also need to learn about other dealerships in the area and what they're selling. This gives you good competitor awareness and boosts your selling abilities.


A car salesman usually learns their skills through training and experience. However, knowing what skills you need early on can help guide your career path. Some essential skills and characteristics relevant to this position include:

  • negotiation skills

  • physical fitness

  • verbal and written communication skills

  • persuasive skills

  • interpersonal skills

  • confidence

  • resilience

  • customer service skills

  • teamwork skills

  • financial skills

  • listening skills

  • organisational skills

Related: What do you include on a sales skills CV?

Background check

Some car dealerships run background checks on their candidates to guarantee the safety of their customers and prevent liability claims. A car salesman comes into contact with various members of the public on a daily basis, so it's up to their employers to ensure they're able to operate with proper ethics and moral business standards. Remain honest when supplying information and background checks as even minor missteps can interrupt the application process.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌


  • How to write an effective car sales cover letter in 8 steps

  • A Complete Guide To Understanding Background Checks

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