The Top 10 Skills of a Successful Automotive Sales Manager

Leadership can make or break a dealership. Make your next hire a home run. Here are 10 skills that successful Automotive Sales managers have in common.

What is an Automotive Sales Manager?

The basic job duties of an Automotive Sales Manager are overseeing the sales activities of a car dealership’s sales department, including training sales staff, developing a departmental strategic plan, and ensuring sales targets and customers’ expectations are met.

Additional qualities of a successful Sales Manager include motivating and empowering their teams, promoting and encouraging sales strategies, and setting sales goals. The dealership sales manager can be the most integral member of the dealership staff, so knowing what you’re looking for can potentially make or break your dealership’s success.

what do organizations look for when promoting representatives to sales managers

What to Look for Broken Down Into 10 Skills and Qualities

Sales Managers focus on interpersonal skills and leadership to teach others to make sales and serve customers’ needs. Typical characteristics and skills you want to see in a sales manager include:

1. Leadership

A Sales Manager must have leadership qualities, but they don’t look the same for every manager. There are many different types of leaders, but what all great leaders have in common is the ability to inspire and motivate.

Effective leadership involves mentoring, coaching, and developing team members. A leader sets clear goals with their team and then provides the support needed to achieve their determined goals.

A Sales Manager will coach their salespeople on delivering best practices for providing a good customer experience and guidance to improve sales performance. They inspire and motivate their team to achieve sales goals and maintain high-performance standards.

3% of sales training hours are for coach

2. Experience

An Automotive Sales Manager should possess a substantial track record of exceeding sales quotas and goals. This comes with proven knowledge of effective sales strategies and best practices. An in-depth knowledge of sales techniques and strategy is vital and includes understanding the sales process, handling disputes, closing deals, and upselling.

Experience tends to sharpen skills like negotiating deals with customers and suppliers to maximize profits. Coordinating and leading sales meetings with the sales staff, displaying keen attention to detail, strong communication skills, and knowledge of inventory control and management are also skills that come with experience.

Experienced Sales Managers tend to be flexible and can adapt to changes. Market changes, customer preferences, and business needs can all frequently change on a dime, and your Sales Manager needs to be ready to pivot.

3. Communication

Communication skills are often, if not always, a desirable skill for any employee, but it’s truly imperative for an Automotive Sales Manager. Sales Managers benefit immensely from strong communication abilities. Clear and effective communication is essential when interacting with customers and sales representatives. This includes both verbal and written communication skills.

Positive personality traits, like an outgoing and service-oriented attitude, complement good communication. If your customers, team, vendor, or anyone else doesn’t sense sincerity and a helpful spirit, then what the manager communicates may fall on deaf ears.

An in-depth understanding of the products being sold is important, but being able to convey this information to the dealership team and customers is priceless. Knowing something does little good if the knowledge isn’t properly and coherently shared with the people who need to know it to make decisions and do their jobs well.

4. Customer Service

A Sales Manager must have a deep understanding of customer needs and a commitment to providing excellent service. These skills help build long-term relationships and ensure customer satisfaction. A Sales Manager must also have excellent customer service skills and the knack for easily talking to anyone.

Developing and maintaining relationships with customers and potential customers should be a main priority. Being available to step in to answer customer questions and resolve issues when needed demonstrates a can-do attitude and a customer-centric dealership approach from top to bottom.

Conducting and analyzing customer satisfaction reports can help Sales Managers appreciate the customer experience. With the information from the report, they can then make recommendations to improve customer service and retention.

It is necessary to find a balance between customer satisfaction and profitability for the dealership, and a good Sales Manager knows that when you keep the customer at the heart of the dealership, the ability to negotiate effectively with customers becomes exponentially easier and more successful.

5. Accountability

Sales Managers need to take accountability for the success of the dealership. As a personal quality, they would ideally encompass a high level of integrity. Integrity for how they conduct themselves, expectations for their team, standards for the dealership, and the value of their customers.

They can quickly identify issues and develop effective solutions. This includes handling customer complaints, resolving team conflicts, and addressing operational challenges.

Time management is crucial in a fast-paced sales environment. This includes prioritizing tasks, delegating responsibilities, and meeting deadlines. An accountable Sales Manager will prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively to accomplish them on time. One way this can be seen is as they manage inventory and order new vehicles as needed.

An above-and-beyond Sales Manager will understand and stay updated about local, state, and federal legislation. Changes in legal policies may affect their team’s activities, so Sales Managers will stay informed to ensure that the company complies with laws and remains above board.

6. Teamwork Oriented

A mark of a great Sales Manager is their focus on building a cohesive, collaborative, and high-performing team. They need to be able to unite their team members with a shared vision and motivate them to make the vision a reality.

Building a strong sales team requires thoughtful hiring, monitoring, training, and coaching to the point of success. Automotive Sales Managers will ensure each employee has proper and ongoing training to ensure they meet their sales targets.


10% of sales training hours are for sales management

Training and mentoring sales staff to ensure they are up-to-date on product and selling platform knowledge and sales techniques can get everyone on the same playing field and create united sales goals. A comprehensive understanding of the vehicles sold, including features, benefits, and specifications, allows the manager to gauge their team’s competency and address inquiries.

7. CRM Competence

An Automotive Sales Manager knows they are not doing it alone. A comprehensive dealership CRM platform that makes managing a breeze, synchronizes a sales team, and works to not only seek out new prospective sales but also retain sold customers, will take a manager from great to outstanding.

Technology proficiency and familiarity with advanced CRM software, inventory management systems, and other sales-related technologies are important for streamlining operations and improving efficiency.

It’s never a one-person job, but success is also not just measured by the team you employ but by the tools you choose to make your team successful. A Sales Manager should understand this, take the time to know the proficiencies of the dealership CRM, and make sure the sales team does as well.

Sales manager expertise

8. Analytical

An analytical Automotive Sales Manager will use data and metrics to make informed decisions and identify trends or areas for improvement. They will analyze data to understand margins and the impact of sales discounts and pricing. They know this informs setting realistic targets and identifying areas for improvement.

They will monitor market trends, adjust pricing accordingly, analyze competitor activities, and adjust sales and marketing strategies as needed. They will also use data to forecast sales for upcoming months and quarters, using data-backed reports to coach their team members and improve their sales skills.

Before finalizing the targets for a particular period, Sales Managers meet with other managers to ensure the goals are achievable and appropriate. This checks-and-balances and transparency gets everyone on the same page and ensures goals have even more potential for being achieved.

Sales Managers will also establish standards for marketing and advertising by analyzing the profitability and success of marketing campaigns. By collecting and analyzing data, they can see what’s working, make educated guesses as to why, and create plans to pivot or stay the course. This not only creates more connections with your customers but also makes your marketing dollars count.

9. Results Oriented

A good Sales Manager knows that the reason for all the efforts is to reap the benefits of positive results. They will create quarterly and annual sales forecasts and then develop and implement sales strategies to meet monthly, quarterly, and yearly sales goals.

By estimating the total sales, gross and net operating profits, and expenses for the sales and service department, Sales Managers can monitor sales performance and adjust strategies as needed. They also consider the competition, industry trends, and economic indicators to determine the next moves.

Compiling regular reports for dealership management and the sales team to review provides proof and motivation to keep going, adjust, and work towards an even greater outcome for the next month.

10. Builds Relationships

Building rapport and nurturing relationships is a huge part of the Automotive Sales Manager’s job, and it’s a lot easier for everyone if the candidate has these attributes. There are several groups that he or she is interacting with on a regular basis, like the organization’s executive management, dealership teams, peers and counterparts at other dealerships and vendors, and of course customers.

Sales managers need to be prepared to represent the organization at trade shows and conferences and develop and maintain relationships with vendors and suppliers to increase sales and maintain a professional network.

This is where a natural demeanor of availability, openness, friendliness, and helpfulness is beneficial. Taking a little bit of time to get to know all people within the manager’s orb (not just higher-ups but all employment levels) and maintaining relationships not only increases the achievement of long-term goals but also sets the stage for maintaining customer relationships.

An Automotive Sales Manager who fits the criteria of the skills in this list can significantly contribute to the success and growth of the dealership.

Finding the right person for this job can undoubtedly be the mechanism that drives a dealership team to their highest potential, fosters a positive work environment and achieves the dealership’s sales goals.

Having the best dealership CRM that provides your Automotive Sales Manager with the right tools to get your team to the top of their game can be just as crucial as their skills, and that choice can be equally critical.

Learn how AutoAlert CXM, the #1 comprehensive CRM, is the best choice for your dealership.