ny dealerships today. I have personally managed dealership sales teams in California, Texas, New York and Arizona... As different as each market may or may not have been, what Michael is describing was needed at each every location - LEADERSHIP... That is what Mr. Tanna is describing in regards to what both GM's and GSM's need to ensure and act upon; it comes down to something that is not complicated, but it is difficult to execute consistently and requires constant diligence... Leadership!
When I started selling cars in February 1981 at a dealership in San Diego, CA I was the first new salesperson hired in 4 years at the VW dealership I was fortunate enough to get a job at. The dealer only hired me for two reasons... I was from Buffalo, NY and his #1 salesperson was also from Buffalo. And, he could not believe someone who just completed his MBA from a major university wanted to actually sell cars. There was no training and it was a "cradle-to-grave" store where the salesperson did EVERYTHING, including all the documentation that is now handled by F&I departments in 99% of all dealerships... The store was selling between 150 to 175 cars a month with 12 salespeople, including me. 6 months after being hired, the dealer forced the sales department to switch from straight sell to a "Liner/Closer" sales process with 4 teams. The closers were called "Sales Directors" and I was assigned to the team led by my colleague from Buffalo (go figure). The second month I was promoted to a "Closer" position (Sales Director) and inherited 4 salespeople from the Closer who had left... They were a sorry lot, and had been in last place on the sales board since the program had begun. I was 24 years old and full of piss and vinegar, so I went on a recruiting drive to hire 3 more salespeople and get my team to the maximum authorized level of 7 salespeople... I found a shoe department clerk at K-Mart that I hired, his name is Jim Kreminsky, who became my heavy hitter, #1 salesperson for the store and went on to eventually become the General Sales Manager for Drew Ford in La Mesa, CA. The other 2 additions to my team were both Syrian immigrants with broken English, but what I call a "Fire in the Belly" commitment to success... Danny Alkassmi went on to become #1 whenever Kreminsky was not, and also went on to become a GSM, GM, Dealer Principal and is now a prominent nationally recognized sales trainer, motivational speaker (his English got a lot better selling cars) and management consultant. The other Syrian I hired with Danny was his best friend from Damascus named Achmad (Ami) Kherrallah, who was also on the top of the board with Danny and Jim for years after starting. My only problem with Ami was whenever our team was close to breaking 100 units, I would catch him bribing customers out of his own pocket when he was close to a deal. His drive to make a sale was so strong that if the customer and the desk were $300 away from a deal, Ami would give the customer $300 out of his own pocket... When I caught him doing that I was mortified... Here i had thought he was always good for another $300 bump even when we had a deal at the offer he presented!!!
Did I ever buy a salesperson clothing? Yes, and I believe if you speak to any true sales leader who has hired green peas and been successful at turning them into automotive sales success stories, you will find that he or she has purchased a few suits, ties, shoes or even paid for a few hair cuts in their career. Have I ever loaned a new salesperson money so they could buy groceries or pay the rent before the next pay day at the dealership? yes, of course i have and there are many who would never admit it, that have done so as well. When you believe in a young person's future success, and you prove to them that you do, more times than not that person will demonstrate loyalty, accept your leadership and surprise the critics, who are always in ample supply.
In 1984 I purchased a condo on the strip in Las Vegas and then "spiffed" my sales people with it during our every other 3 day weekend off. Sometimes we would take a Vanagon from the dealership and the whole team would go to Mexico to enjoy the pleasures of the Rosarita Beach Hotel... I distinctly remember several Saturday mornings, waking up in my suite at the RBH, only to find all my salespeople sprawled about in various positions on the floor, couches, chairs, etc.... Trying to get to the bathroom without stepping on one of my salespeople was quite a challenge. When we were a few units away on the last day of the month, my guys would stroll down dealer row and up customers who were on neighboring dealer's lots, and had been lot-dropped, then convince them to come down to our VW store... Sometimes we would stay till midnight, with me desking the deals and doing all the F&I paperwork.
We were a TEAM, a real team... Think of those TV shows where the cops are partners and each covers the other so that nobody gets in trouble and both prosper... That was us, except there were 7 car salespeople plus myself. I have bailed salespeople out of jail, both men and women... Paid for their divorce attorney fees and their weddings, been the Godfather to their children and many years later sold cars to those same kids. That is what is the best, and least understood aspect of the car business... The relationships you build with the people you work for, hire and work with. I experienced a similar sense of team when I worked at Courtesy Chevrolet 2005 - 2007... Our team was loyal and effective... In March 2007 we sold 422 new and used vehicles to Internet originated leads and phone calls, from a single rooftop Chevy dealership... The whole store broke 1,000 units that same month.
Leadership is what creates a team, and you cannot get effective teamwork without the team. Leadership is what makes a great General Sales Manager or GM... Leadership is what inspires me to say to a salesperson who has hit a dead end; "OK, let's go over and speak with the customer together... Listen to what I say and how the customer responds... Whether or not we make the deal, I want you to tell me what you liked best about how I handled the customer, and what you liked least... We'll both learn something, and I am 90% sure you will make a deal without splitting it with another salesperson... C'mon, let's go!"…
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le current startups are still dreaming of the day when they can use the phrase “market share,” Google Analytics already has the largest market share in its industry.
But this is far from how it all began. Before being acquired by Google, a small web consultancy team created a product called Urchin. This is the story of how they made it big.
Where it all started
In 1995, the founders of Google Analytics built a company called Web Depot, which provided web development and hosting services to San Diego businesses. It had four co-founders: Paul Muret was both the CEO and the engineering/technical end of the company, Jack Ancone was the CFO and brothers Brett and Scott Crosby took care of business development and sales.
Two years later, Paul wrote the first version of their analytics software, Urchin. It was planned to just be part of their services until he had a “lightbulb moment“:
“One of our large clients was struggling with the fact that it took 24 hours to process a single day’s worth of website tracking results. We tried out our new analytics tool, and it took 15 minutes to process the same data. That’s when the light bulb went off – that Urchin was for real.”
So the team were faced with a choice: keep providing web consultancy services, or pivot and focus on building and selling Urchin?
They chose the latter and slowly moved away from doing hosting and development work. It wasn’t an easy process, but it was a move that paid off in the long run. As Brett Crosby said:
“We built our business around a very scalable product, which allowed us to do things like target hosting companies and get massive numbers of users with one deal, rather than focusing on one very complex deal.”
As they started landing top web hosts as customers, Urchin quickly became the standard analytics software for thousands of websites.
As a result, it didn’t take long for Google to notice them.
From Urchin to Google Analytics
When startup founders attend trade shows, there are some common things they expect to achieve. Get new customers. Generate interest about their product. Or if they’re really lucky, bring in some new investors.
So when Google representatives approached the Urchin team at a trade show in 2004, it’s likely that the encounter was beyond anything they expected at the time. An offer was made, and negotiations began, which would take several months to wrap up.
The deal eventually went through on Brett Crosby’s wedding day on March 2005.
“I was in my tux, literally just about to walk down the aisle when I signed the contract,” he recalled in an interview.
Where Are They Now?
After the acquisition, Urchin’s web-hosted analytics software, Urchin On Demand, became the Google Analytics we’re now familiar with. Their client-hosted version, simply named Urchin, was rebranded as “Urchin from Google”.
But more than just the product names changed after the acquisition.
Paul Muret became the Director of Engineering at Google Analytics. After spending more than a decade working on the product, he gave his first keynote speech during the Google Analytics Summit last October.
Jack Ancone became the Senior Director of New Business Development at Google.
Brett Crosby is now the Director of Product Marketing at Google. He also sits on the board of directors at Euclid Inc., which provides in-store consumer analytics for retailers.
Like the other founders, Scott Crosby also worked for Google as Senior Program Manager after the acquisition. Upon joining Google he made 2 key decisions: to live in San Francisco and not drive to work. So with his brother Brett, he founded SF2G, a community that promotes cycling to work. He left Google in 2010 and is also now the COO of Euclid Inc.
As for Urchin, while its web-hosted version lives on as Google Analytics, the client-hosted version wasn’t so lucky. Though they released 3 more version upgrades since the acquisition, sales for Urchin software were discontinued on March 2012.
And the moral is…
Google Analytics has a history that’s as long and as colorful as the reports it generates. Even if its startup days were over a decade ago, there are a few things up and coming entrepreneurs can learn from this story.
Startup Lesson #1 – A successful idea doesn’t need to be unique or flashy. But it has to be useful.
The Urchin team’s “big idea” wasn’t their development and hosting services, but the analytics tool they developed to process website tracking results.
Analytics software isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind when you try to think of a product idea that could change the world.
But the thing is, they did change the world – at least online. They provided something faster and more user-friendly than what was available at the time, which became the widespread standard.
Startup Lesson #2 – Recognize your opportunities for pivoting.
Sure, Urchin software could have been just another feature in their web hosting and development services, but if the team had persevered with their original business plan, they wouldn’t have realized the full potential of their new product.
Some Things Don’t Change
It’s clear that whatever they pursue, the founders of Google Analytics are still passionate about empowering people by giving them easy access to important data. The Crosby brothers are still working in analytics, only now it’s for brick-and-mortar retail interactions. And Paul Muret is still working on the product he’s been building all these years.
While there are lessons to be learned, the history of Google Analytics proves how successful you can be despite hurdles, pivots and taking risks, which is encouraging for those of us in the early chapters of our own startup stories.…
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