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

CityPress - - Careers - MBALI SKOSANA projects@city­press.co.za

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.

FIVE

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.

TO

PHOTO: LUCKY NXUMALO

PRE­SENTABLE PITCH Deb­o­rah Nt­lat­sang holds an ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion at Audi Cen­tre Johannesburg, which is based in Braam­fontein

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