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Dave Erickson

Dave Erickson Internet Sales Director

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The other morning I was walking my dogs. I live on the main street right below the Hollywood sign. If you’re a tourist and you’re looking for a picture of the Hollywood sign you always end up on my street because it looks like it drives right into it. Okay, enough details. Back to my walk. A car slowly slides up next to me. It’s a very thick June gloom morning. The fellow rolls down his window and like most tourists they always ask me how can they actually get to the sign for which there is no easy answer as it’s a twisty maze of narrow streets with signs that seem purposely hidden so I usually tell them there is no way but this fellow wasn’t asking how to get to the sign. He was asking me if he was even close to the sign. I asked him to repeat himself and he asked me if the sign was even close to where he was. In my mind I’m thinking that’s an insane question because it’s in massive letters right before him about 500 yards straight out his windshield. I look and that’s when I notice the fog is so thick that you can’t make out the sign. Through the fog I can make out the outline or at least I think I can as I’m sure it’s there but this fellow has no idea if he’s even in the right neighborhood or pointing the right way. I tell him it’s straight ahead and he looks ahead and at me again. I tell him to trust me that the sign is right in front of him. He mumbles something to himself about me being an unhelpful asshole and drives off into the fog making a sharp left hand turn. 

 

I think to myself this will rank with the great allegory’s of all time. It had all the right ingredients. What story could better sum up the added difficulty we throw on ourselves for not trusting in someone who knows better. Not only refusing to believe the person for your own good but taking it one step further believing he is attempting to cause you some harm because you can’t see what he knows to be true. 

 

That was 2 weeks ago and I’m still waiting for the dinner party or company meeting where I’m able to communicate my new witty story.  My new allegory. In my mind I’m already ranking my Allegory to rival Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. So great perhaps they’ll just banish his unnecessary allegory and replace it with mine. T-shirts ought to be printed depicting my new allegory. Fog machine sales will hit all time highs. Teachers are giving demos to students. Students are giving demos to other people. Strangers in bathrooms begin to discuss the dynamics of the foggy allegory. Oh yes, surely the foggy allegory will be credited 500-years from now for giving birth to a new renaissance. A new period of enlightenment.

 

Oh but surely I think to myself the foggy allegory can’t be all that unique. It must exist in other forms but I am too lazy to research allegory’s. The Lakers will be on in an hour. I was supposed to go back to an interview today which made me re-live this whole allegory scene in the first place. You see, what happened was last night an old friend asked me to stop by a dealership he started working at. I hadn’t seen him in a few years and thought it would be nice to see him. Before I know it he’s insisting that I come aboard. That I meet with the GM. That I’m exactly what they need. A real internet person. I try to get details and the only details I get are standard. Sounds like a standard position where they want someone who is good online and on the phone to respond to inquiries and make deals. Surely I am exceptional at this but it had been a few years and my old friend seems to not have accounted for that during the last 4 years I’ve grown to slightly more of a managerial role. I feel that I have more value passing on what I know rather than just doing it. My friend insisted that I come back today and meet with the GM and see the pay plan and get a drug test, and to come back dressed to the nines etc... Keep in mind I already have a job. So last night I figure maybe it’s a good idea to learn more about this dealership and so I begin to research them and their competitors and collect data and create a sales strategy complete with action items to take them from what I can tell is one of the lower performing dealers of their brand in Los Angeles to a top 3 performer. I even intended to do this by eliminating all 3rd party leads and kept budgetary constrictions in mind by simply imagining there was no budget. I even documented exact key word phrase alterations for their website to improve their rankings. I had data that showed they weren’t a google local result for a majority of Los Angeles because their site was indexed so poorly. I even had a reputation report. I missed nothing. Even noting how there was no wifi network (which I checked while I was there after checking in on Foursqure). I noticed a dealer next door had listed as a tip for the area that they have free wifi and coffee and even though I’m sitting there with my old friend I’m considering going to that dealership instead so last night I even considered taking it upon myself to create “nearby specials” on behalf of this dealer. So today being my day off I go to the gym, I walk the dogs on what was a another foggy morning and I eventually shower and remembered my friend said something about the nines so I put on my suit. I walk into my dining room and grabbed my ipad with the massive sales document I typed the night before and my keys and then just froze. 

 

These people are going to think I’m an absolute maniac. 


Gary May
Dave this has to be one of the more 'pure' stories in any automotive industry forum I've read. Yes, thanks for making us read. Thanks for making us think. Without your allegory, and all of its fog, automotive retail is very set in its ways with exception of about 5-10% of its thinking elite. With your story, maybe it can convert another 10% of the shrinking field. Dealers are pitched by every 'expert' in the field and some people that really know what they're doing. Trust is lacking. It doesn't matter if you're a vendor or the best Internet guy that ever walked the earth (for that store, of course). So while I can't stay we should blame 'them', they are perpetuating their own fragile existence. In attending an automotive industry event this week, one of the top retail executives spoke in regards to branding, customers and social media. His points, like yours, were so honest and not what we typically hear from top retail management. It's so simple, it's difficult: Change the way people perceive and think, you can change the results. Automotive retail must want to change Dave. Aside from unintentionally confusing management (Which I do admit to doing sometimes, but not due to a lack of listening and likely due to passion about helping the client), there are some things that we can all do. Number one, answer more questions. That is what DrivingSales is for. Make no mistake. Please keep writing articles and posts like this one. It's the responsibility of the membership here to take in all of the posts, consider everything written, respond and compel other responses with more questions and build the industry up. This is our "pay it forward" place. Again, fantastic writing. If you don't the position, there are other ones and maybe should chat...very soon. Best regards, Gary May IM@CS
Mike Sheehy
Haha, loved the story. Sounds to me like you are very passionate about your task at hand. Don’t forget: most people in history were considered maniacs before they did something great. -Mike J&L Marketing, Inc. http://www.facebook.com/?sk=nf#!/pages/Louisville-KY/JL-Marketing-Inc/31166092696?ajaxpipe=1&__a=7
Dave Erickson
thanks Gary for the encouraging words. There's a lot of good stuff on this site and it's good to see other people who are passionate about what they do. You're right about not blaming 'them' for perpetuating their own existence. I suppose they do have families to support, etc.. I one time a few years had a new GSM come into the store I worked at the time and tell me he bought 2500 leads per month for $800 month and it was such a bargain he signed a contract. I tried to tell him I don't think such a deal or quantity of leads exist but he smugly assured me that he'd take care of me and take us places and that I should know he invented internet sales. Turns out after 2 months he started grinding me about selling those 800 leads which never came and asked me to find out why the leads weren't routing. I got his contact and called her and found out he had didn't buy leads but web site referrals. When I told him this his response was to make sure they routed the referrals to our CRM and it was clear he had no idea what the difference was. After he had sufficiently loaded up the store with his own guys he had me fired. He certainly had the skills to perpetuate his own existence (sadly at the expense of the owner of that store).

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