Business to Business Online Expos

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No internet allowed; in the internet department

internetdeptI used to be the Sales Director of the Internet Department at a car dealership. Just to clarify, the Internet Department in the auto-biz is a division of the sales force who specifically serve web clients that have been shopping through the internet. From referrals by buying companies to lead sources, email, text, etc., this team spends the majority of their days in front of a monitor. These employees are all over the digital marketplace chasing down customers.

One day, our genius [sarcastic] General Manager decided that he was going to lock down everyone’s computers to only include a few scattered links that they used every day for their email, customer management program and most pages associated with our brand. The rest of the internet–off limits.


The prospects they talk to on the phone every day have full access to all their shopping options in a variety of places on the web. On the other hand, the sales team that needed to be competitive and informed about their competition was unable to stay efficient because a GM was worried someone was reading too often?

Handicapping his staff, the department started seeing a consistent decline in monthly numbers. Captain Power-trip blamed other factors but truth be told, the new policy was not very smart.

The IT department had access to every key stroke the people made. If they were concerned about where their ‘internet employees’ were surfing, they could have run a report to see for themselves and determine if corrective action was needed. But to treat them like small children and take away tools they need to be successful is just ridiculous.

One member of upper management tried to defend the GM by saying, “He probably is trying to keep people off of Facebook and focused on their job.” Okay, smarty-pants, there’s just one problem with that theory. Social Media is an incredible way of building your customer base. When I was an internet salesman, 4-6 cars I sold per month were a direct result of frequent posting on these sites.


Do not take away your team’s access to social media!

Even if they don’t use it for work, a short amount of friendly interaction on Facebook can be beneficial to the overall production. Here’s the bottom line–they’re gonna do it anyway. Most of your employees have smart phones and checking their posts is part of their hour to hour lives.

Regulate it.  Give them a time window when they are allowed to take social media breaks.

Use it to your advantage. If your company generates revenue from the public, come up with contests and promotions that encourages staff to reach out to their power circle on Facebook and generate some new business.

You’ll keep your team happy and productive.

Go get ’em Tiger!


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The Salesman That Couldn’t Lie


Kurt Russell in Used Cars [1980]

Once upon a time, there was a car salesman that couldn’t lie.

At least this is what he told all the customers who came into his dealership.

None of them believed him.

The End

Isn’t that sad?  I mean, it’s funny, but in a sad way.  Especially because it’s a true story.

That’s right. The car salesman was me. I really was completely, 100% honest with my customers.  I was so transparent to my customers that they almost rarely believed it.

Car salesmen have gotten such a [deservingly] bad rap that it’s almost impossible to get passed the stereotypes.  Not just with the public. I struggled to gain trust from friends who know me and my integrity. For some reason, once they came into the sleazy dealership environment, they looked at me differently, until I proved to them that I was completely on the level.

Staying away from dishonesty as a sales person isn’t easy either. Most companies actually train their sales team with exaggerated info, padded stats, tricks, traps and cheats to ‘get the sale’.  Many of these companies have scripted their process so strictly that the sales person is advised that they may not stray away from it.

When I interviewed for the job with a local Ford franchise, the most important point I made with the manager at the time was, “I won’t lie”.

His response was great and made me feel comfortable.  “You don’t need to lie,” he said. “Just show them the car and be passionate about it and the car will do the sales work for you.”

I liked that response. I took the job.  I sold 9 cars in my first two weeks on the job. [Just to give you an idea, a decent salesman at that location sold 10-12 cars per month.] After that, I averaged 16-18 cars per month, winning salesman of the month multiple times and quickly promoted to “Closer/Assistant Manager” and then “Internet Sales Director”.

What was my secret to success?

My commitment to honesty.

I stayed true to being true because I made a point to actually have genuine care for my customers.  I didn’t just sell them a car, I built a relationship with them–before, during and after the sale.

I did whatever it took to make them feel comfortable and satisfied with my service.

  • I got them drinks or food while they waited to go into sign their contracts.
  • I made sure they got a great teaching on all the features of the car.
  • I followed up with them all the time after the sale and offered them extras like free car washes.
  • Heck, I even counseled and prayed with many of them.

I was more then their salesman; I was their friend. And I never let them down by not standing behind something I said.

Integrity = Success in all businesses.

Don’t take short cuts or play games with your customers.  The truth will set you free.  You won’t always have the largest commissions in the company, but you’ll have more customers, more referrals and you’ll be able to sleep at night.

And if you’re really good, maybe you can re-write a more positive ending to the story of “The Salesman That Couldn’t Lie”.

Have a great day!