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Fire Your Internet Sales Manager 

I know I am going to get a lot of heat on this article, but it has to be said. I have worked with thousands of dealerships over the years and there have been numerous reasons given for mediocrity, and even failure. In the beginning of automotive Internet sales in the late 1990s, it was a novelty and an incremental business, but most dealerships were not able to truly harness it and make it a major profit center. However, over the years and through evolution of the automotive sales industry, and the country as a whole, there has been a lot of change — change in how people are researching, shopping, making decisions and ultimately buying a vehicle. There has even been change inside our industry by dealer principals, GMs and sales consultants. It seems that dealers are getting it. They understand that Internet sales, business development, digital marketing, and social media are all important.


What I am seeing now is a scary pattern emerging. A lot of dealerships are not maximizing on opportunities right in front of them because they do not have the right person in place. The Internet sales manager or BDC director that they have in place is the wrong person for the position, and they are hurting the dealership! Here are some problems I’ve seen at dealerships:

•  A computer geek in the position who is not an automotive professional. There is nothing wrong with being a geek. I have a problem if they have no idea how to sell a car, and don’t have the respect of their team and employees. They can’t motivate and drive the department to success.

•  An IT professional is the head of an Internet sales department or business development center. Just because they are good at fixing computers or understanding technology does not necessarily make them the best choice to run a million-dollar sales department. “Internet sales” is still sales.

•  Instead of terminating a sales consultant from the showroom floor, they are given a “second chance” running the Internet sales department. I don’t get this one at all. If someone can not be effective on the showroom floor, why would you have that person be the head of a department where 92 percent of Americans go before they ever step foot into your dealership?

•  A sales consultant is promoted from the showroom to running the Internet department. Please understand just because someone can sell a car does not mean they can run a department, let alone an Internet sales or business development department. Just because they can sell cars does not mean they are capable of being a manager or a leader. There are a lot of successful sales consultants who sell 20 or 30 cars per month, but don’t work well with others. They have no concept of interdependence.

•  There is no Internet sales manager/BDC director at all. That is just bad, and again, makes no sense whatsoever. When 92 percent of people are going online, there needs to be major attention to this area.

•  A dealership’s manager also manages the Internet department. I have seen it all, my friends. The dealer principal or general manager takes on the Internet department as an “additional” responsibility instead of having a dedicated manager, or they dump the responsibility of the Internet department onto the GSM or sales manager. This is not a viable solution.


Remember Basic Math

The average dealership in the United States delivers fewer than 100 units per month. But the average dealership has:

•  A GM or GSM

•  One to two sales managers (new car/used car), or “closers”

•  An F&I manager

•  10 Sales Consultants


If you want your Internet or business development department to deliver units, you are going to need the right Internet manager or BDC director.


Yes, you might need to fire your current Internet sales manager or BDC director. You might have been thinking about doing it for months now but weren’t sure. Let me make it easier for you.

Think of your current Internet sales manager or BDC director:

•  Are they a family member or in a relationship with anyone else in the dealership?

•  Do they have any automotive sales or management experience?

•  Do they have an aversion to the phone?

•  Do they have the ability to take a “TO” from their employees, sales consultants, appointment setters, etc?

•  Do they have the ability or desire to proactively “TO”?

•  Do they have the respect of their team (or the dealership for that matter)?

•  Can they, or do they, lead by example?

•  Do they train their team? Do they know how to train their team?

•  Do they have “one on ones” with their team?

•  Do they know how to project and forecast, and not merely guess and hope?

•  Are they rude and or mean to their team or their customers?

•  Do they have Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.s), or do they just “wing it”?

•  Can they desk a deal?


If you are reading this and you are a dealer or GM, do this calculation before you open the showroom tomorrow:


Look at your electronic leads, phone leads and walk-in leads. Say your electronic and phone leads are 70 percent or greater of all leads. Now look at your manager running your Internet or business development department. Are you comfortable with them in charge of 70 percent of your opportunities? If not, make the change today. If you can’t promote that person as your nest general sales manager, you have the wrong person in place.


If you would like a free personalized analysis of your Internet Sales Manager, contact me at the email below with “ISM” as the subject line.


Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at

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  • I agree with this article. I gaurantee there isn't one person who read this article that hasn't seen this in one shape or form as mentioned. The wrong person at your front gate can be a disaster! This is what happened on my watch...

     As a former GSM of a Ford, Lincoln,Mercury, and Mazda store. I can remember many years ago the Owner/Dealer Pricipal of the dealership deceided to put his 23 year old Nephew in the position as our Internet Manager. Our Owner said "He's good at computer stuff ,and he has a college degree in business Adminastration." In my opinion I figured great a family member to manage.  "It is what it is!" Well over the next 11 months it was a disaster, What a grind every customer was that they got involved with. I would cringe as I filled out my daily desk logs. My averages and my paycheck,were being destroyed by what few horrible deals the department was producing, that made absolute no sense. Every month I pleaded with the owner, finally after 17 years of working for the Auto Group I  was able to bend the big boss's ear.  , Finally the month came and Nephew took two weeks off to get married and go to Hawaii. Now was my chance!

    Luckily I was able to implement what basics I had learned from working with Mr. Sean Bradley in our early careers as competitors (Thats A Long Story) and as an employee of Dealer Synergy Training,between 2006-2008 I knew the basic process to set appointments! Along with general common sense... Over the two weeks I kept the tean focused and motivated. Being thrown into an additional 30-40 phone call T/O's a day was the biggest of tasks.Every day I would come in, and stress to the 3 cooridinators "Just set appointments" NO PRICES unless the customer demands it,Sell theAppointment with the VALUEPACKAGE PROPOSITION! but if it doesn't work, as the Acting Internet Director  'm going to speak to those people myself who demand numbers.  I want 100% T/O! I told the staff, and I got it! The month ended and I looked at the DOC and to my surprise even after digging out of a  $12,000 loss on the first 8 cars the Internet/BDC Department had sold. We ended with 63 cars 55 where done in 17 days! The salespeople went from dreading those customers to begging for them! Finally the owner admitted his Nephew was the wrong person for the job. Just because somebody will work for penuts, knows how to use a computer, and iseven worse is family. In a dealership that just doesn't make them capable...

    So after this "Banner Month" The owner again trying to step over a dollar to get to a dime, had the bright idea he would save some money, put his Nephew in the "service drive" where he belonged parking cars, (At the same pay grade) and becauseI was able to make the Internet department  a profitable department, he decided to dump the department on me,and the GM. Sadly as a GSM of any 4 franchise store there isn't enough hours in any day to complete the tasks and responsibilities that the  job holds, and we all know that the GM isn't going to chase leads. So it became my baby after the initial nastalga wore off of T/O'ing price shopper phone calls.  We can do it together,  Became YOU can do it! 

    I knew I should have spoke up when the owner was perposing the idea . Without making a big deal about it I placed adds anywhere I could do it free, Craig's List,, the local VA adminastration and networked with several other car people. I was inspired to do some serious HR and was able to recruite the right person in under 30 days, started training Her and to this day she is still running the department to this day.

     Sean's point I cannot stress enough! The Internet Department is a FULL TIME management position and cannot be taken for granted! It takes the right combination of sales skills, digital knowledge, and management skills to make the department run smoothly.  GM's, Owners, Dealer Principals take this article seriously! Your Internet Manager/BDC Director is the gatekeeper. Who's holding the keys to your castle??? 

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