If you love everything about the motorcycle lifestyle, chances are you have considered working in the motorcycle industry. You have a passion for motorcycles, you love to ride, and you know a thing or two about gear. Plus, you might have a leg up on other candidates if you decide to apply for a job.
While several job options are available at dealerships, motorcycle sales can be one of the most lucrative.
However, it should be noted that sales can be a challenging job, one that requires that passion but also requires hard work and a great personality. Check out our guide below to learn all you need to know about motorcycle sales.
The Basics: Pay, Benefits & Job Satisfaction
The biggest factor affecting a career in motorcycle sales will be the dealership where you work.
Some dealerships pay based on commission only, while others offer a base salary with commissions on top.
In addition, dealerships often have monthly sales goals with minimum sales numbers for each salesperson, whether a set dollar number or number of bikes sold.
The size of the dealership may also impact whether or not they offer benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
What You Can Expect
- The average base salary in the United States is $48,212
- This number will vary depending on size of the dealership, location, and commission structure
- Management positions can pay upwards of $90K
- Benefits May Include:
- Health & Dental Insurance
- Disability & Life Insurance
- Paid time off (sick days, holidays, and vacation time)
- Employee Discounts
- Professional Development Opportunities
Sales is a tough role, regardless of the industry. If you truly have a passion for motorcycles, though, motorcycle sales can be an exciting, challenging (in a good way), and rewarding career for the right person.
That said, there are pros and cons to working in motorcycle sales.
- Meet all sorts of new people every day
- Establish relationships with repeat and loyal customers
- Sense of purpose helping people find the right bike
- Opportunities to learn every day
- Stepping stone to new opportunities in the motorcycle industry
- Riding motorcycles daily
- Make great, lasting relationships with colleagues and customers alike
- High-stress due to sales goals
- Trust issues with sales teammates due to competition for commissions
- Employee turnover
- Limited advancement opportunities in-house due to minimal management roles
- Work most weekends, especially during the busy season
- Long hours, especially during the busy season
- Possibility of being laid off during the slow season
Be Proactive in Your Search
If you are looking for a career with opportunities for advancement and great benefits, check out the dealerships of reputable motorcycle manufacturers like Harley Davidson, Honda, or Suzuki.
Since the larger corporation backs them, the likelihood of offering more favorable benefits is greater.
That said, many locally-owned dealerships that carry an array of new and used bikes also offer their team members great benefits, so don’t avoid them altogether. You might be surprised by what they have to offer.
One of the challenges that good motorcycle salespeople face is the limited advancement opportunities provided in-house at dealerships.
Sales positions are often limited to a sales manager, occasionally an assistant sales manager, and the sales team out on the floor. This leaves little room for moving up unless a manager leaves the dealership.
While many may focus their search in-house, there are always new career opportunities for salespeople outside of the dealership.
Dealerships are a regular stop for vendor reps, sales reps for major parts distributors, and even corporate leaders. Dealership sales positions can easily become a stepping stone to new opportunities with community partners that you already do business with.
Networking and building great relationships with the individuals you interact with in the dealership can lead to incredible career growth.
The Job: What You Need to Bring to the Table
Motorcycle sales isn’t easy money. While the best salespeople in the world may make it seem simple, there is no doubt that they are working hard to make sure they get the sales they need to meet and exceed their goals.
All salesmen need to bring passion, experience, and hard work to the table to be successful.
Having experience riding is often a minimum requirement for salespeople. Whether you own a bike or not, many dealerships require their salespeople to have a motorcycle license.
This provides the dealership with ease, knowing that the people selling the bikes have real experience handling a bike on the road, have taken the proper training and safety courses, and can maneuver a bike around the dealership if necessary.
The most successful motorcycle salespeople know their products inside and out. Consumers aren’t dumb, and they can tell when someone is lying to them or making stuff up. It’s important for any salesperson to really know the different bikes they’re responsible for selling.
Some great ways for salespeople to learn about their bikes is to:
- Study the literature provided by the dealership
- Read trade magazines related to their industry or company
- Complete company-provided training
- Know the key differences between different models
Trade magazines are a great way for salespeople to stay updated with the latest industry news and learn about the competition.
Having product knowledge can also help aspiring salespeople land the job. The more they know about the product they’re selling, the more confident a hiring team will be in their passion and skill in selling to the consumer. Again, it will save some time on the training side to get a salesperson ready for the sales floor.
Salespeople won’t know the answer to every question right off the bat. Extensive knowledge takes time and interaction with customers.
However, letting a customer know when you don’t know an answer is a great time to bring in a colleague to answer their question and show them that you’re an honest individual. They will likely have more respect for you then than if you were to lie and make up an answer that you weren’t completely confident with.
We all know that working with the general public can be difficult. Motorcycle sales are no different; some may say it can be even harder than other sales roles.
The motorcycle industry is one where consumers often know as much, if not more, than those selling them the bikes, parts, and accessories.
Bikers are passionate about riding, and for many, it’s a way of life. While product knowledge is very important, so is having the right personality for the role.
Salespeople need to be outgoing and willing to work with personalities across the spectrum. You have to be comfortable approaching strangers and then building rapport with them.
They need to be able to trust you in order to want to do business with you. If you come off as all-knowing or pushy, you may drive them away and onto the next dealership.
Starting in motorcycle sales is not for the faint of heart. It can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time in a sales role. That said, don’t discount the people you know. Your network of friends, former colleagues, and family members can help you build up your customer base.
If you have established relationships with these people, it can lead to opportunities with people in their network. If they know a salesperson at a dealership and trust you, they’ll be more likely to recommend you to their friends or family looking for a motorcycle. When you get hired at a dealership, make sure to let people know to share with others.
The Advice: How to Make a Career that Works for You
We’ve all heard the saying that life is what you make it. This also applies to your career. Jumping into a sales role can be uncomfortable at first, but there are many ways that you can make the job work for you.
Understand the Role of the Salesman
A motorcycle salesperson is where most dealership relationships begin with new customers.
If someone is interested in purchasing a new motorcycle, their first interaction will likely be with the person on the sales floor looking to help answer questions.
The salesperson’s role is to help the customer find the right bike based on their riding experience, riding needs, and aesthetics.
Whether the customer is a new or experienced rider, working with a salesperson helps to ensure that they are getting the bike they are looking for and within their budget.
On any given day, a a salesperson can be:
- Talking to new customers about different bikes
- Helping customers understand financing options
- Offering advice on new products
- Writing up sales agreements
- Working alongside team members to provide a great guest experience.
After a customer has purchased a motorcycle, the salesperson often introduces them to the parts and accessories teams to ensure they have all the gear and parts they want or need for a safe and enjoyable riding experience.
Lessons for Success in Sales
If you’re new to sales, there are some great lessons you can apply to your job that can improve your connection to your customers and lead to more closed motorcycle sales. Take a look at these tips below.
- Build rapport with your customers – ask questions, show them you’re genuinely interested in what they’re saying, really listen when they’re talking, and make suggestions that solve their problem(s)
- Establish and maintain trust – If you tell them you’ll do something, make sure you do it and follow up with them in a timely manner, even if to provide a simple update; don’t lie to them, seek a solution and if you can’t provide one, be honest with them
- Be assertive, not aggressive – no one likes the pushy a salesperson; give them a couple of minutes to look around then introduce yourself and offer assistance; make suggestions based on what they’ve explained they’re looking for and your expertise in the products
Continued learning is an effective way to excel and advance in your career. Whether your dealership offers learning opportunities or not, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to invest in themselves.
The motorcycle industry has a way of pulling people in. It’s exciting; it’s fun, it’s edgy.
A career in motorcycle sales can be equally exciting and fun, but it comes with a layer of responsibility that only the individual can bring to the table.
If you’re considering a career as a motorcycle salesperson, understand that along with the passion for motorcycles, there needs to be a lot of hard work and a personality that works well with people from all walks of life.