Interview with André Pelletier, general sales manager for automobile dealers Deragon Ford Lincoln and Deragon Honda
André Pelletier knew how to climb the ladder to reach the position of general sales manager in the automobile sector. Throughout his career, he worked at the Deragon Ford Lincoln dealership, where he was able to try his hand at a variety of jobs. He tells us about the particularities of his field and what he likes about his job.
As general sales manager, what does your job entail?
I take care of everything that is not mechanics. I’m first of all there for the salespeople. I take care of their follow-up, training and motivation. I also handle vehicle inventory: orders, evaluations, inventory management and the showroom. And finally, I manage the application of laws and regulations as regards automobile sales.
How did you get to where you are today?
I started out as a salesperson in 1998 at the Deragon dealership. I then became assistant manager, sales manager and finally general sales manager, a job I’ve been in six months. I’m now in charge of sales for two different dealerships.
What makes the automobile sector special for sales?
Automobile sales have a very bad public reputation. There was a time when the salespeople were not all professional, which greatly hindered the profession. And while things have changed a lot -we’re more qualified, more structured, for example- we’re still stuck with this label.
Another source of change is the clientele. Consumers are increasingly better informed, thanks to specialized publications and the Internet. Customers do their homework before purchasing a car, and ask increasingly detailed questions. This means we have to know our products inside out, by regularly taking courses offered by the manufacturers, the Corporation des concessionnaires d’automobiles du Québec (CCAQ) or specialized firms, which guide us on the particularities of vehicles, laws, sales techniques, etc.
Tell us about how you recruit salespeople.
We find it very difficult to recruit, specifically because of the bad image I mentioned earlier! Most of the time, we run ads in the local papers or online. It takes about a month after publication to find someone.
What we want, above all, are people with good communication skills, who can relate to customers. You don’t need a degree; we just ask candidates to have good interpersonal skills, be good with numbers and bilingual.
What are the opportunities for advancement?
There are many – you can quickly move up the ladder and have a great career starting out as a a salesperson. I myself became the general sales manager in less than 10 years and my responsibilities quickly increased.
What advice would you give candidates in automobile sales?
I would tell them not to worry out finding a job in this field – you can find a job in one afternoon, as long as you have sales experience and a convincing attitude.
It can be a little rough at first, the time to familiarize yourself with the vehicles and sales techniques. But we are very well compensated, with above-average remuneration, along with the benefit of driving a new demo model.
You also have to know how to budget, because since we’re paid on commission, the pay cheques vary from week to week.