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Dave Page

Dave Page Owner

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Is There A Doctor In The House?

“I play a doctor on television”……………..

……..would you let him operate on you? Probably not- yet we still see time and time again people holding “Internet Marketing, Management, Director and/or Guru” titles in dealerships who have absolutely no right being at the helm of the Internet Sales Department ship. He or she interviewed well for the job, threw around the right buzz words and was convincing enough to get an offer letter. He or she talked a good talk, but once on the job they struggle to walk the walk.

Why is that? How does this happen and more importantly what can you do to make sure that when you are hiring for your Internet Department’s Manager you know what you are looking for?

You need to know and document (job description) what experience and skills you need for the sales end of things within your internet department and then identify what experience and skill you need for the technical, operational and promotional aspect of your Internet marketing- 2 separate individuals and/or skill sets. More often than not a store hires an Internet Manager with the expectation that the manager will:

  • Provide IT support
  • Manage the store(s) network
  • Troubleshoot for end users of systems
  • Manage the dealer’s websites(s)
  • Promote the website (SEO and SEM)
  • Promote the store (merchandizing of inventory and ecommerce marketing)
  • Manage the departments staff- develop and motivate
  • Manage the CRM and its users
  • Manage Third Party lead providers
  • Manager inventor on websites such as & Autotrader
  • Manage a pricing tool such as VAuto or Firstlook
  • Sell the appointment, and in some stores sell the vehicle

These expectations are a very tall order for one person alone to pull off. The reality is that it will be like finding a needle in a haystack to fill a job description that lists all of those performance requirements. To fill that would mean finding someone who has the ability to deliver soft skills (sales, negotiating, communicating, rapport building –people skills etc) along with hard skills (vast technical knowledge, computer skills etc.)

Don’t get me wrong, it can be done, but it is very tough to find a candidate that possesses all of the skill sets necessary to fulfill each one of these requirements. Usually if a person is strong in soft skills they have a tendency to be weaker in the hard skills and vice a versa. Not impossible, just unlikely.

We have a tendency to do what I call “easy hires” in dealerships. Here is the scenario; we like a particular sales guy or girl, she or he is just not quite cutting the mustard in the sales department, they have a knack for computer knowledge, you find yourself going to him or her when there is a “technical issue” with your network or something computer related. What do you do? Well a lot of stores take someone like this and place them at the helm of that Internet Department ship or the BDC- you give them the scalpel and sutures and tell them to get to work. Best intentions are usually at play here but a set up for mediocrity at best for the employee and the department.

Your Internet Department cannot thrive with mediocrity. If you want to own your segment of the market you have to do what everyone else isn’t doing.

If your hiring for the department is an outside job be careful that you are not looking for the “Geek Squad” guy or girl to come cruising in with a pocket protectors, radiation burns from their computer screens and a plethora of Internet Marketing and technology buzz words they throw around……this is not a sound criteria in which to decide to offer them the Internet Department Manager position either. This type will do well with your technical and operational end of things but typically fail miserably when it comes to people skills necessary for sales.

The most successful Internet Departments I ever worked with had 2 captains at the helm. They did not necessarily share “captain” title either. The Internet Manager was the driver of the department- the people driver and his or her “assistant” was the technical guru. A good Internet Manager will see to it that his or her department is structured that way. A good Internet Manager (or any manager for that matter) knows exactly his or her weaknesses and hires and develops people around themselves accordingly.

I recommend when interviewing, that first and foremost on your interview question sheet is how the candidate plans on creating a fine oiled machine. This will help you to determine with all that is needed to be done well in your Internet Department if this person has the leadership qualities necessary to identify deficiencies and find or develop their people to support them..

Dave Page

Dealer e Process


Bart Wilson
@Dave, I like the analogy. You hit the nail on the head when you described putting an OK salesperson in that position because they were likeable and knew a computer. Where do you suggest a dealership look for this individual? Outside the car biz?
Suzanne Brief
I just left a position where I did all of the things described above. Coupling 23 years of sales and sales management experience with a deep knowledge of internet marketing was not the hard part. The hard part was making senior management see the value of it all. Too many dealers do not understand what is involved and a great number of them honestly believe that lead generation can run on auto-pilot. I like the idea of a technically oriented assistant to handle the near constant barrage of computers on the glitch, internet connections going down and the like. I dont thnk the issue is going to be resolved until dealers understand that a true Internet Director IS a senior management position and begin to treat it as such. That person should have the ability to recognize sales opportunities, direct internet related sales activities, have pricing authority and the hundred things that go with it. Where they are missing the boat is the fact that they have desk manangers for a reason, utilize those managers to "finish" the deal and free up the marketing guru to extend their expertise to every area of the store, promote service, parts and all that goes with it. Until the dealers see the value of this person, they will continue to settle for internet mediocrity

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