The Phenomenon of (Lin)ternet Sales

The sports world is buzzing because of one player. An underdog of Chinese/Taiwanese descent is lighting up the scoreboard in the NBA and this lightening rod of excitement has consumed a nation.

image of Jeremy Lin

His name is Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks. He was undrafted. He had been cut from two different teams. He was a fill-in player that wasn’t supposed to get any real playing time. He wasn’t supposed to be any good. Yet, he is turning heads. He has been a marketing wonder for a team, a catalyst for a city, and a role model for a league.

How many great talents sit on the bench without ever proving they can succeed in the spotlight?

The powers that be are not always the ones with the keenest eyesight for talent. It is common that the old guard makes the decisions and only look for those stereotypical playmakers when deciding who to elevate into a position of authority. The managers in our dealerships were promoted usually because they reminded their managers a little of themselves.

If we keep looking for the same type of players to lead our teams, we’ll never improve our culture. If we keep promoting the same type of players, without ever giving the opportunity to someone who isn’t prototypical, we will never grow as an industry.

How many people may you have passed up giving the chance to prove themselves in managerial spotlights?

How many Internet sales managers have sat on your bench, pounding away on the keyboard in their department, without ever considering them for a role in upper management?

You may have a Jeremy Lin on the bench.

You might have an Internet sales manager that deserves a little more respect. They might have progressive, forward- thinking ideas or simply a better attitude toward customer interaction. They may be destined for greatness in management, if only given the chance.

Their different outlook on the industry may improve the way your dealership connects with their customers. Just because someone has “Internet” in their title does NOT mean it is the only segment of your business they should be in. If anything, their strength in your Internet department makes them a better choice for an open sales management slot.

Don’t stereotype anyone into a role. Don’t keep anyone on the bench because of their philosophies, mental make-up, or job title.

We need to be bringing new blood into our front-court management teams. As Jeremy Lin has proven, the person you need the most may be the person you’ve undervalued all along.

Are you overlooking your next Jeremy Lin?

Joe Webb

If you don't know Joe already, He's the founder of DealerKnows Consulting and has been bringing online sales success to dealerships across the country through his hands-on consulting efforts and progressive training programs. Joe dedicates his life and his livelihood to his too-good-to-be-true wife and his two little maniac sons that he lovingly nicknamed Bear and Tiger.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “The Phenomenon of (Lin)ternet Sales

  1. Great post, Joe! I love it someone takes a look at the same thing from a different view…just requires time to think about a process, team or project and then go through “what if” scenarios. Go back to the day you hired someone who now seems average. What was the reason you hired him/her and are they utilizing those talents today? It’s amazing what you’ll find/learn by taking a step back and creating time to think and evaluate. It’s easy to follow the leader, it’s harder, but more rewarding, to make a change and ultimately a difference. Part of being successful is to differentiate. The other part is hiring the right people. Through people come results.

    • @vickioneill Thanks, Vicki. As I always say, it’s not the wand that makes the magic happen, but the magician who wields it. The people we hire are the most important part of our (read: any) business and the factors for determining true talent is always shifting.

  2. Nice, timely post, Joe. I like the way you are thinking here. I’d also like to point out, for those that are currently seated “at the end of the bench” that when given the opportunity, Jeremy Lin seized the day. The kid is out there PLAYING — not out there doing what he can to not make mistakes — there’s a big difference. So kiddies, when your turn comes, don’t be afraid to break convention and make a name for yourself in your own way.

  3. What, have the person who is trained to relate to 90% of your customers be the manager? That would be absurd!

    Joe, we’ve recently had 3 Internet Managers promoted to floor managers, only the get that deer in the headlight look from the sales staff. It has worked out great, except of course for backfilling, but that is great problem to have :-).

    In my opinion this all ties into the notion that your sales floor needs to be all or part of the Internet team. No more segregation.

  4. Great article Joe. I’m not a big fan of watching sports but this is one dood everyone should be watching for inspiration alone.

    Working for a larger dealer group a few years back, I had the privilege to work and meet some great people in our industry. I came across many young and talented individuals on the dealer level just hoping to have the opportunity to think outside of the box while taking owner ship of their sales domain, only to be forced into an old school mold because “that’s how ya sell cars” or “that’s the car business”. Most of these individuals quickly move on to another profession and we miss out on the opportunity to work (and possibly move to management) with people that could have taken the dealership to new heights.

    I believe axsnyder said during a conversation some time ago “our sales managers are usually nothing more than a sales person that SURVIVED the sales floor”. Survive and sell lots of cars and your worthy of middle management.

    We know what most middle management accomplishes – http://www.dealerrefresh.com/middle-management-killing-your-sales/

    How do we know what to look for -in our people- when when it’s the wrong people looking to build the team?

  5. Back when Lin entered the draft (2010 I think) a Moneyball type analysis actually predicted him as being one of the unknowns who could have success in the NBA. I remember reading it and watched him a little bit when he played for the Warriors. I am not surprised he is having success.

    Another thing to consider with Lin is that he is in a system that takes advantage of his strengths. I’m sure if given the opportunity he would shine is other systems but I think the Knicks system maximizes his potential. How many dealerships (or any organizations) have systems that do not maximize their employees potential?

    Something else to take from the Jeremy Lin success are stereotypes and first impressions. I think it’s a safe bet that there were some NBA scouts that didn’t think much of Lin because he is Chinese American/white. He is just your average (at best) sized point guard and those are not hard to come by. How many scouts thought he wouldn’t be able to play in the NBA because he is too slow, too small, blah blah blah. Stereotypes play a HUGE role in sports and even though its the pros its safe to bet that there are some scouts who can’t get around stereotypes. How many management decisions are made based on stereotypes?

    As far as first impressions if you saw Lin play at Harvard (or the Warriors) you probably were not that impressed with him. He isn’t flashy nor do his skills jump out at you but the more you watch him the more you appreciate what he does. Organizations pass on very good potential employees everyday because these potential hires didn’t wow them in the interview. Maybe they are introverted or just nervous or whatever. A bad first impression are hard to overcome but if you don’t overcome them you might be missing out on a Jeremy Lin type employee.

  6. Great article Joe. Always like to hear what you have to say! But what if the Internet Sales Manager (like me) considers it a demotion to be appointed to floor sales manager?

    • @Tom Gorham – Tom. Your dealership is one of the exceptions to the rule. Most eCommerce professionals agree that an Internet Director is worth far more to a dealership organization than either a Sales Manager or a Finance Manager because they are single-handedly in control of efforts that generative more gross profit dollars than the other positions. At the same time, the hierarchy in the majority of dealerships still put a higher status level on those other two positions for no other reason than ‘that’s how it’s always been’.While many feel going from Internet Director to Sales Manager might be a demotion (and it should be), in many organizations, that would sadly be a step up.