Remember Madison, my friendly car saleswoman from the other week? I caught up with her about what it’s like working as a woman in a male-dominated industry and she had some interesting things to say! Enjoy!
Every type of person buys a car: nice people, rich people, funny people, rude people, silly people, mean people, smart people, way-too-smart people, broke people, strange people, we have them ALL. And not all of these people are as positive and friendly as I am.
Literally anything can go sour with a car deal, for men or women alike. As a saleswoman, it’s my job to hold the hand of the buyer, add value to the car and pray they like me, the car, the weather, the price, what they had for lunch and whatever else might steer a buyer in one direction or another.
Salespeople as a whole have a terrible reputation. I can understand why some salespeople, mostly the bad ones, would do anything (lie, cheat and steal) to get a sale. Money has a poisoning effect that changes people. What separates me and so many other saleswomen and men in our industry from those not as honest, is a life lived with compassion and a real care for people.
It truly is so rewarding to sell someone a car. I have traveled across the United States in a car - met friends in many small towns across the country, saw the most beautiful things imaginable, met the love of my life, and landed in Minneapolis. There is nothing that can change your life like a car, and I take real pride in selling them.
How did you get into this business?
I landed in Minnesota unexpectedly after spontaneously draining my savings for travel experiences. I had built a successful spa business in California but realized I would have to reinvent myself and my pocketbook if I wanted to be successful in the competitive skincare industry in Minneapolis.
I had always loved the sport of selling and the challenges that came along with it. Because of this, I knew I was able to work anywhere that could utilize my determined skill set. I wanted to try something new and figured what did I have to lose?
I’m the kind of saleswoman that can only sell products I love and believe in. I make it a point to be open and honest (maybe I’m too honest on occasion) but that might be why I am a great saleswoman. People want honesty and trust.
What are some challenges you have experienced as a woman in this business?
There are so many challenges that come with selling cars, too many to count. One of the most common challenges is, you guessed it, judgmental customers.
"Hello, this is Madison from vehicle sales. How may I help you?”
“Yeah hi, I’m looking for a salesman.”
"Salesperson yes, what can I do for you?"
Or the occasional, “Wow you sell cars?” partnered with a laugh.
Confronting the incredulity expressed by customers that I, in fact, sell cars is a common occurrence. Simply because I am a woman in a profession dominated by men, I have the added dynamic of dealing with these stereotypes and assumptions.
Why do you think women make great car salespeople?
Women are welcoming. They tend to be more gentle and build trust faster. I think this allows women to create a less stressful and more comforting environment - a factor that is often just as important as price, if not more so, when customers are considering making a major purchase. Women are great at making anyone feel comfortable and the majority of the time, a relaxing, enjoyable sales tactic wins.
When selling cars to clients, do you notice any differences between male and female buyers?
Everyone wants a good deal; that's a given. I don't like to make generalizations based on gender, but in my experience, I have noticed that women tend to use a more emotionally-based approach when buying a car and men tend to rely more on vehicle specifications in their decision-making.
Some folks skeptically judge prices and payments and do calculations for themselves, bringing laptops and spreadsheets like some sort of science project. Some customers drive the car you personally pick for them and ask where to sign. Some don’t even ask for the price, not because they don’t care, but because they bonded with the vehicle. I happen to get along with these customers the best because they know what they want and have fallen in love with the car. Coincidentally, these customers also tend to be the most friendly and positive people.
In the end though, how people shop and buy cars varies from person to person - part of what makes my job so interesting!
Do you have any advice for women considering a career in car sales?
Grow thick skin. People can be mean, men and women both. I’ve cried many times due to the lack of respect and kindness some people have displayed. Saleswomen and men are not vending machines. We are living, breathing creatures that care about our friends, acquaintances and families. Not everyone shopping for a car cares about the middle (wo)man. So one of the most important things I can mention to a new salesperson is not to take everything to heart. That has been one of the most important things I’ve learned in this industry and a massive struggle I fight every day.
Do you have any advice for women purchasing their next car?
Do research on what you want in a vehicle, test drive all the options you have in mind, and focus on the car's features that matter most to you. It’s easy to get caught up in all the details and be distracted by the different bells and whistles of a car. Don’t pass up a good deal, but keep in mind that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Also, please pick up your salesperson’s calls. Be honest and open. They can do a better job finding what’s best for you if they have more information. If you’re done shopping or have decided to take a break from car searching, try to make an effort to tell your salesperson even if you have decided to purchase elsewhere. Doing that means more than anything to the salesperson.
Finally, drive anywhere in your new car - literally anywhere. The experiences you make will change your life.
14550 Buck Hill Road
Burnsville, MN 55306