Putting the pedal to the metal
Giving up beauty therapy to sell luxury cars, one woman followed her dream and succeeded in a male-dominated industry
Polished and poised, Deborah Ntlatsang has turned the stereotype of the vehicle salesperson on its head. She started her working life as a beauty therapist, but since moving over to selling cars, Ntlatsang has had her foot on the accelerator. Today, the 34-year-old vehicle sales queen is an executive at car dealership Audi Centre Johannesburg, which is based in Braamfontein.
“As a woman, I have to constantly prove myself because this is a male-dominated industry,” observes Ntlatsang.
“All my life, I’ve always loved cars, ever since I was young,” she says.
Having a father who was a taxi owner inspired Ntlatsang to pursue a career in the motor industry.
She studied for a diploma in sales and marketing at Central Johannesburg College in Parktown, then landed a job as a car-rental sales agent at Avis.
“What motivates me is meeting different people who come from different backgrounds. I get to be innovative every day,” she says.
After 10 years of polishing her sales and marketing skills, working for various companies in the motor industry and dealing with the pressure to survive in an industry that doesn’t see many women become an integral part of the business, Ntlatsang is proud to be helping people buy their dream cars.
Ntlatsang started working at Audi Centre Johannesburg when it opened in 2006 with a recordbreaking 25 new vehicles displayed on the showroom floor.
She worked her way to the top, landing an executive position in 2014.
In a nutshell, the job of a sales representative is to advise clients and make sure that they get the right vehicle for the right price, says Ntlatsang.
Image is very important in the sales industry, she says.
“Nobody will buy a car from you if you look like a thug, so you need to look your best.”
Ntlatsang notes that there are misconceptions regarding sales representatives.
“People misunderstand us and think that we rip off customers, which is not true. We help you get your dream car.”
Her advice for those who want to be a successful sales representative?
“Be friendly, honest and know your products very well. Don’t forget to work like a slave and live like a king.”
SALES REPRESENTATIVE TIPS Do not bad-mouth the other sales representatives. Dress, smell and act the part. Customers will take you seriously when you look presentable.
Know your product. Understand the market and the industry.
Be enthusiastic when speaking to the customer and show excitement about the product you are selling.
Look the customer in the eye. Customers need to know that what you are saying is sincere.
BE A SALES EXECUTIVE, YOU NEED THE FOLLOWING: A matric certificate. A bachelor’s degree or diploma in sales, marketing or business.
Strong oral and written communication, and good presentation skills.
Time management skills, customer-service skills, confidence and motivation.
The ability to work in different environments.
PRESENTABLE PITCH Deborah Ntlatsang holds an executive position at Audi Centre Johannesburg, which is based in Braamfontein