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Selling cars online

The Baltimore Sun

John Dickerson

Internet sales manager

Antwerpen Volkswagen, Pasadena

Salary --$50,000

Age --22

Years on the job --three

How he got started --Dickerson began working at the dealership when he finished high school, washing and moving cars. He then switched to the parts department, working in sales, and eventually moved into car sales. He began his current job with the Internet division about 18 months ago.

Typical day --Most of Dickerson's day is spent talking to customers and arranging appointments for them to take test drives. He regularly talks to former clients, which he hopes will lead to referrals. Dickerson also must assist in maintaining the dealership's Internet site, which lists cars for sale and the set price. About 250 new and used cars are usually available on the site. Unlike traditional sales, the Internet prices are agreed on upfront with little haggling. This makes it a bit more organized, Dickerson said.

He estimated that he works at least 50 or 60 hours a week. He has two scheduled days off, but often finds himself working six days to satisfy customer demand. On an average day, he meets with two or three customers, with most deals taking about 45 minutes to complete. "I really like sales. I'm ... knowledgeable about Volkswagen products, and I'm really into cars. A lot of this comes naturally."

Motivated buyers --Dickerson says that most of his Internet customers are ready to buy once they set up an appointment for a test drive. But it usually takes up to 12 telephone conversations before a customer gets to that point. And, he said, Internet customers are well-informed about the car they want to buy.

Commission --Dickerson works on 100 percent commission. After he hits a monthly sales quota, which changes depending on incentives, he begins earning bonuses. He said he is on track to make $65,000 this year.

The good --The people with whom he works. "They become like family."

The bad --The hours. "You have to stay in touch with customers at all times. I always have my cell phone on me and my computer with me."

Hot item --Jettas

Selling yourself --On occasion, Dickerson has to overcome the stigma that he is too young. "Sometimes I have to prove to them and show them I do know what I'm talking about. When people feel comfortable with you, that's when they take on buying a car."

Advice to customers --"Definitely use the Internet. Do your research and weigh the positives and negatives."

Best sale --Several times, he has sold three cars in one day or nine in one week.

Philosophy on the job --"Work hard. Your income is dramatically affected by how hard you work."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

Special to the Sun

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