In the past 40 years, I’ve interacted with hundreds of thousands of car sales professionals who work for thousands of dealerships in 49 states. Every month, they start over again at zero, with this month’s hero going back to the starting line as a new race begins.

Regardless of pay plans and how they are structured, there are always those few who consistently make incredible money, often rivaling the income of attorneys and physicians and other highly paid professionals. It’s not uncommon for top producers to sell 25 to 30 units a month, every month.

On the other end of the spectrum are those salespeople who make just above minimum wage. They perpetually whine and complain and make excuses. They can get by and live on that kind of money, but they never seem to dig their way out of the hole of mediocrity. In the middle of the pack, you’ll find salespeople whose income is like a rollercoaster, with good months followed by bad months. One month they’ll knock the cover off of the ball; the next they crash and burn, never stringing two good months together. Consistent or inconsistent, these Eight-Car Freds (or Fredrickas) sell just enough to get by and keep the sales managers off of their backs.

One of the main causes of mediocrity in the sales department is what I call the “nut mentality.” Every month, the worst-performing members of every dealer’s sales force make their “nut” — the minimum amount they need to cover their monthly bills — and then fold up and lay down until next month. Usually, when you point it out to them, they are in complete denial. They offer up a barrage of excuses and alternative explanations for why they’re stuck on the same number.

I am firmly convinced that success is a decision and a mindset. Whether you call it “attitude” or “confidence,” it begins in your head. Every sales pro begins each month with the same opportunities. They are working the same hours, selling cars out of the same inventory to prospects in the same community, and catching the same ups.

Despite all that, every month, the 30-car guys sell 30 cars, the Eight-Car Freds deliver their eight, and the minimum wage non-producers end up at the bottom of the pack — although they’ll claim it’s not their fault. And the beat goes on.

So if it’s not the dealership, and it’s not the brand of cars you sell, and it’s not the economy, then it must be you. Once I can get people to admit that their numbers and income are a result of the way they think and not external things they can’t control, the magic happens and lives change.

If you are not happy with the group you have fallen into, and your income and success are disappointing, I’ve got great news for you: You can change all of that immediately. It begins with a goal and the personal discipline to achieve it.

My first suggestion is to learn your trade. Watch the videos and take the training seriously. Do it the way you’re trained, not the way you like to do it. If you’re not performing, chances are you’re taking shortcuts and not doing what you’re trained to do the way you were trained to do it.

If you believe, as I do, that words are your toolbox, then learn customer-friendly and persuasive word-tracks and closes. Well-trained professionals are naturally confident, and customers can smell a lack of confidence a mile away.

Show up on time (or early), be well-groomed, and be dressed for success. And be prepared to put in some extra hours. When we were newlyweds, I told my wife, “If you don’t want a broke man, you’re going to have to put up with a busy man.”

Jim Ziegler is the president of Ziegler SuperSystems Inc. Contact him at [email protected] 


Jim Ziegler
Jim Ziegler

President and CEO of Ziegler SuperSystems

Jim Ziegler ranks among the industry's most recognized and honored trainers, consultants, authors, speakers, and forecasters.

View Bio

Jim Ziegler ranks among the industry's most recognized and honored trainers, consultants, authors, speakers, and forecasters.

View Bio