Question of the Day: I’m In Sales. Do I Need a Fancy Car?

April 15, 2013

The following question was published in this weekend’s WSJ:

Dear Dan,

I don’t care about cars, never have. But I’m a sales executive, and people tell me I should own a nice car (BMW, Mercedes, etc.) to enhance my credibility to both my customers and sales team. I can afford either but would rather save the cash and buy a Honda. Does it matter?

—Cody

I’m curious what your thoughts are on this.

Here are mine:

I suppose the answer depends on the circumstances (what are you selling?). I, however, would gravitate to the one I wanted and not worry about what other people think. So, if I wanted a Honda, I would go for the Honda. There’s nothing worse than a flashy, cocky, salesperson. That’s my opinion.

Thoughts?

4 responses to Question of the Day: I’m In Sales. Do I Need a Fancy Car?

  1. If you are selling your services as a salesman to a producer, get the Lexus.

    If you are selling the product to a consumer, get the Honda.

  2. It depends on the kind of people you are trying to impress. Expensve European cars do not impress me, I’m more likely to be impressed by a Japanese vehicle. I like Jack’s idea to consider a higher end Japanese model – Acura (Honda), Lexus (Toyota), or Infiniti (Nissan). The reliability of a Japanese vehicle but the “prestige” of a higher end vehicle.

  3. I would say it depends on the people you’re dealing with; if they’re impressed by status symbols then by all means get the flashy European car but if they don’t care then neither should you.

    There are times when that impression is worth its weight in gold and this seems like one of them.

  4. There is an element of sales to virtually any business career. You frequently need to convince people who don’t know you yet to trust you and trust your competence. It is human nature to want to do business with people who are successful in their own right (or at least appear to be). I would never let a car affect my judgement of the individual, but that’s me. People do make those judgements.

    I would say that, of course, it depends on the audience. If you drove up in a Bentley, it could have a very negative effect (unless you sell Bentleys or +100ft yachts). In the Northeast or West Coast, I would go with a low-mid level model of a luxury manufacturer. Most importantly, your choice should seem relatively new or in very good condition, prudently selected, and not overtly flashy or embellished. Trying too hard does not impress.