Automotive Digital Marketing

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From the Trenches - Digital Vendor – How do you sell your wares?

In the dealership, we are often besieged with vendors… today they are most often Digital Marketers of some kind. 

Dealers are very busy people.  Their time is at a premium.  Smart dealers have gatekeepers who can weed out the wheat from the chafe. However many vendors have tried to find ways around the gatekeeper to go directly to the dealer by bypassing the receptionist or calling the owner or GM directly.  Bad idea….


First I want to divulge, as an Internet Sales & Marketing Manager, I am a gatekeeper.  So I am biased.  But I am a source of good advice as well.  When you bypass me, the owner or GM will almost always refer you to me and be resentful that you took up his/her time.


First and foremost, I work for a dealer and I know a bit about digital marketing.  Don’t assume I’m ignorant and don’t talk down to me.  I just might know more than you about your own “expertise”.


Do not go to our website and submit a lead in order to introduce yourself.  You are deleted and removed from future consideration immediately.  Leads are business.  Don’t interfere in that.


When you do talk to me, be an expert in what you are selling.  You often start by telling me you are a car guy.  Are you a car guy or an expert in YOUR FIELD?  I don’t care if you’ve done literally EVERY job in a dealership.  If you were a great General Manager, why are you selling Social Media?  Are you a social expert?


Often, I am shocked to ask questions and be answered with the words, “I’m just a sales rep; we have experts who can answer those questions.”  That’s right, you’re a car guy.  You know little about the product or service you’re selling.  If I know enough to ask the question, you should have an answer that makes sense. Goodbye!


As you know, OUR customers expect us to be able to answer questions about our product.  We expect the same from our vendors.


If I’m not interested, don’t ask me “Don’t you want to sell more cars?” That is the most insane question I have ever heard.  I want to say, “No, I’m only here to have fun and get a paycheck!”  I have priorities, you know… all designed to sell more cars.  Yours is obviously low on my list.


If I say it doesn’t fit my budget right now, understand that’s true.  I’m not going to remove a perfectly good vendor and replace it with an unknown.  You obviously have not struck me with a phenomenal idea that made me want to replace a good vendor I already employ.


This is the car business.  We are very competitive.  Know your competitors and why you are better than them.  You should be as competitive as we are.


Finally, know the line between follow-up and harassment.  As Internet Managers, we learn not to cross that line no matter how aggressive and persistent we are.


This is a field of endeavor I love.  I enjoy talking to anyone who understands it and sometimes get too loquacious in the process.  Approach me with results and a vision and respect, and you might make it past the gatekeeper with a good recommendation.


Written by Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 816


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Comment by Tim Rulapaugh on March 19, 2012 at 7:09am

I do both the social media and IT stuff for our dealership.  I don't deal a lot with social media vendor types...our internet sales manager usually takes those calls (unless it's something he isn't familiar with or up to speed on...then he passes them to me).  I get to deal with pesky IT vendors.  It's a hoot!  I've lost count of how many times I've heard a vendor rep say, "My job is just to see if you're interested enough.  If you are, I'll pass you on to our sales staff who can better answer your questions."

I'm sorry, but if you can't answer my simple questions about how your product works, you're wasting my time. 

And no, I won't hold while you transfer me to your sales staff or tech staff.  Having to re-tell someone else how our network is set up is wasting even more of my time.  If you put me on hold, don't be surprised if when you return, I've put you on hold or even just hung up on you.

When I say "I'm not interested", it doesn't mean keep hounding me to change my mind. 

If you call and ask for a minute of my time, your call had better not last 20 minutes. 

Don't keep throwing sales pitches at me instead of answering my questions.  I know and respect that you have a job to do, but I've worked in sales.  I know how to play the game.  I know what is and isn't a sales pitch.  Don't offend my intelligence by making a sales pitch...and then insist that you aren't.  I'm smart enough that if you give me the details of your product, I can do an unbiased comparison against your competitor(s) and decide for myself if your product is worth more of my time.

If I tell you I'm not interested right now, don't keep trying to change my mind and / or ask for my email address so "we can stay in touch."  You've given me your info...I know how to find you if or when my interest changes.

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 18, 2012 at 4:42am

Thank you Brian! The post was not a condemnation of vendors but a request for civility and professionalism.  It translates well into how we in dealerships should treat our customers as well.

Comment by Brian Pasch on March 18, 2012 at 2:31am

Tom, great post and reminder on how to communicate to a dealership's team.

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 17, 2012 at 7:51pm

Manny, what's a "Bugatti"?  ;-) Is that what makes a good vendor?  You may be on to something....

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 17, 2012 at 7:40pm

Thanks Manny,  you are welcome to do so and I think you just did.

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 17, 2012 at 2:56pm

Thanks Darrin,  it's great when you can put that experience to good use, isn't it.  I bet it gives you a huge advantage!

Comment by Darrin Smith on March 17, 2012 at 12:20pm

Great post Tom. As a dealer-kid-turned-vendor I was wary of the "dark side" before taking that leap. Working with my dad at his store for many years, as well as dealing with vendor reps you describe, taught me NOT what to do. Thanks again for a great read!

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 17, 2012 at 12:06pm

Thanks Penny, I appreciate your comment.

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 17, 2012 at 12:05pm

@Tom Hawkins - Thank you and the same to you!

Comment by Penny Vettel on March 17, 2012 at 9:12am

Like looking at a mirror.  Very well put.

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