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Career Connections: Automotive Sales Representative

6 minutes

(Describer) Beside four different-size different-color circles connected by lines, title: Career Connections. Under a line graph, title: Financial Literacy.

(Describer) Title: Automotive Sales Representative.

Keeping automobile manufacturing facilities full of inventory to build their products is the job of automotive sales representatives. From General Motors to Ford, Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota, thousands of salespeople make sure the parts they need arrive at the manufacturing facility on time and for the right price. One longtime Northern Ohio automotive sales rep is Jeffrey Phillips. He represents major suppliers who sell their products to automobile manufacturers around the world. In his job, he looks into the parts needs of those companies. I represent the interests of the company that I work for, in this case, Die-Matic in Cleveland. I work with the procurement people, the people that are developing new products

(Describer) Some of Die-Matic’s small parts are shown.

because in the automotive world you're not supplying what's being used today. You're getting ready to supply. Right now I'm working on 2018 model parts. For some automotive sales representatives, it's a career for life. I've been in sales for 40 years. But I started actually when I came out of college. I went to Mount Union College. A Bachelor of Arts in Business was my major field. When I came out of college, I taught school for five years. Knowing all along that education wasn't going to be my career, five years into that, I decided to go into business and interviewed with different kinds of companies.

(narrator) To be successful in automotive sales, you must find a company that's the right fit for you.

(Phillips) One of the keys is to develop a basic knowledge and understanding of how to do what you do. Find a good training program, somebody that will take you and right from ground floor teach you how to sell. So how do you prepare for a position in automotive sales? In college, you're getting a general education, and you get a specific view of certain areas-- accounting or sales and marketing or whatever-- but you don't get any real direct experience, so you have to rely on the company you're selling for to train you properly, so you understand who they are and understand their product. That's key. You have to know what you're selling. Successful automotive selling relies on clear communication between the sales rep and the customer. When you get into the development of a part, the engineering, the design issues, things you have to be concerned about, communication is critical. It's important that you don't-- You've got to bridge that gap, that the person you're talking to understands what you're saying, and you understand them. Don't assume things, particularly at that level, at the engineering level. While an automotive sales rep will often deal directly with an auto manufacturer, that's not always the case. We don't really call and sell directly to Honda. We sell to their first-tier suppliers. That would be a company that-- One of our big companies or customers makes the suspension systems for Honda. So we're talking with them, and we're supplying suspension parts into the shock absorber and spring system. Or we supply parts to people that make the sunroofs.

(narrator) What kind of education do you need for an entry-level job in automotive sales? In high school, I took a basic course that prepared me to go to college. They called it a college preparatory course. I had four years of math and science, I had a foreign language, I had four years of English, a real good basis, so that when I made a college decision, I was pretty well-prepared to go to that level. Most of the time, the people are college-educated. Or trade schools. We get a lot of engineering people that have two-year engineering degrees or other type of degrees that are not a full four-year degree, and it works. Selling automotive parts is a profession for people who enjoy face-to-face contact with other people. I like to sell. I like people. I always liked the challenge. To be a successful automotive sales rep, you will need solid preparation and the ability to build good relationships with customers. Above all else, my customers trust me. That trust is just so hard to gain, but once you have it, boy, you've really got something. And you protect it. You do anything to keep that trust. Trust is probably what's caused me to have a long-term career with the one company I represented 35 years. That's a world record for a rep.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production

(Describer) Titles: For more information, visit OhioMeansJobs.com. Western Reserve Public Media. Copyright 2014. Funding to purchase and make this educational program accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Department of Education by telephone at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or online at www.ed.gov.

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PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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In the automotive industry, a sales representative sells auto parts to manufacturers. They have to have a keen knowledge about the products so they can answer the questions of potential buyers. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 6 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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Episode 2
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Episode 3
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