Dealerships don’t often support the American dream. Knowing that the people you employ are the key to your success, I still find it frustrating how often a dealer looks outside of its own walls to find new talent. We are from a society where the goal is to have upward mobility in our careers and yet we rarely offer our own the chance.
More than most, I recognize that Internet sales, lead management and digital marketing are specific talents. These are skills that some have and some don’t. That being said, with training in place, an average employee can deliver above-average results. With the Internet proving itself to generate more traffic and profit for all departments than any other medium, it is absurd that we have it sectioned off as an evil stepchild in our dealerships. (Just look where it is located at most stores. A customer comes in and asks for the ISM and the salesperson says “They’re all the way in the back. Let me go get them for you.”)
Many dealers treat their Internet departments and BDCs as if they are on an island. They have little contact to the outside world (or the showroom). They are positioned out of sight and out of mind. Internet department is still considered the misfits that the leaders of the company don’t fully understand.
An Internet department/BDC may be a different department or island, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a place to send the outcasts. It should be viewed as a rewarding paradise. Being promoted from the sales team (or, dare I say, the finance department) to the Internet department should be a privilege. The e-commerce department should be a stepping stone to the highest echelons of management. It is not where you send weak sticks from the sales floor to go wither away. “Hey, Tommy hasn’t sold more than a few cars for the last couple months. Let’s send him back to the Internet department, get him some leads and sales, and boost his confidence.”
No. That is a bad idea. Tommy needs to be better trained or let go. Poor performance on the sales floor doesn’t bode well for their success in Internet sales. Sales to Internet sales must be considered a promotion. It should come with additional training, vast resources and more power to effect change. It is far better, for this reason, that you promote from within rather than bring someone in from outside. At least the people who’ve succeeded with you know the culture of the store. And yet, far too many dealers don’t consider promoting their top sales people into their Internet departments.
Too often during my training of dealerships’ sales staff do I meet potentially great Internet sales candidates that have not been considered for an Internet sales position.
When I tell ownership and management about the opportunity to advance a sales professional to the Internet team, I commonly get two responses:
1) She’s too valuable to take her off the floor.
(This makes no sense – On the floor, a sales professional touches 100 customers in a month. On the phone and with leads as an appointment-setter, she touches 250 prospects a month. If you give her the ability, as well as the responsibility to assist in closing deals and taking Internet TOs, she is at least twice as valuable.)
2) She makes too much money on the floor to want to leave.
(Then you are strongly underpaying your Internet team. If someone’s impact can be greater in another department, and bring in more dollars to the store, wouldn’t you agree that their compensation should be greater as well?)
These are two common misconceptions about evaluating talent in your store. Often, because a manager is so close to the people around them, they don’t consider them for other opportunities. However, a salesperson’s closeness to the dealership’s operations is a true benefit. It allows them to hit the ground running in their new role rather than have to start an evaluation process from the beginning.
Before you opt to bring in an outside candidate, review the team you have around you. Recognize the importance of the Internet position and see if there is an opportunity for you to reward a loyal employee with a chance to step up and take on more responsibility. After all, growing in one’s work status is the American dream. Why not support the dream?