There is a fundamental shift that occurs for many Internet sales managers. Though most were hired to manage Internet leads, make phone calls and sell cars, the evolving state of our industry has required them to take on more roles. With these new responsibilities (and new tactics) often come excitement and change of pace.
Many recognize that their true passion might not be the back-and-forth, face-to-face, or peer-to-peer selling that goes along with the title “Internet Sales Manager,” but it is the new digital marketing initiatives that intrigue them. This is the common metamorphosis that many ISMs go through. They recognize their desire is the digital and not the Internet sale. And therein lies the problem.
Many dealerships and executive managers don’t yet understand the value of having a full-time digital liaison. They can’t always track the results, can’t measure the ROI, and therefore can’t quantify the payroll expense. These dealerships feel that the little things you do here and there to improve the online presence of the store are plenty and the main job of the ISM should be to focus on getting customers in the door and selling them vehicles. Their beliefs are both right and wrong.
Understand that they are correct on one main point… they hired someone for a specific job (as Internet manager…to respond to leads and sell cars). Sure, maybe the ISM had a couple of digital duties assigned to them such as keeping the website updated, CRM running smoothly, and inventory fresh. However, if an ISM has been in the game for at least three to four years, they must realize that they were hired initially for something the manager could quantify.
Where management may be wrong, though, is thinking there is not a need for a digital position in today’s dealership. Seasoned Internet professionals know that there is a big need… but it isn’t what they brought the individual on for initially. If an ISM has been managing leads, calls and customers for years, I understand the grind that it can take and the open air that a digital marketing role may bring them. It just may not be what is in store for that particular ISM. Some will work in a progressive store where ownership sees the writing on the wall and takes the leap to reward their proven ISM with a digital-focused position. Others won’t see the light and will keep their ISM in the position they originally hired them for. The position they understand and can evaluate easier.
So if you are an Internet sales manager, here are a few different steps you can take:
1) Do your job. Do everything asked of you on your job description and do it extremely well. Don’t dedicate work hours to more interesting tasks. Bust your butt at what you were paid to do and in your off-hours, do what you love. Digitize your dealership up and down in your off-hours, document your measures and track the store’s growth. Maybe then you can prove yourself in one position, but quantify the second position based on the extra-hours of work.
2) Lay out a detailed job description for the position you want and give them expected growth estimates on what they could achieve (financially) from your position. Then present the importance of the store’s digital development to ownership.
(There are caveats to this one. If you aren’t succeeding at what they hired your for, you don’t have a leg to stand on when asking for a new role. Also, if you think a dealer sees the value of a social media manager as much as someone responsible for personally moving 14-16 cars a month out of their store, you are mistaken. Understand that, as important as you believe the position may be in the future, you likely won’t be able to deliver same sale results in your new position. Lastly, have a replacement for your current position in mind and a training program prepared for them if they do indeed give you the new position. Otherwise, if there is no one to take your place when you take on the new role, and that department slips, they’ll blame you and then just move you back into the previous role. And that will have been your only shot.)
3) Move on. As the Internet evolves, more and more dealers are recognizing the glaring need for a digital-minded executive to help cross these rivers. If it isn’t your dealership, maybe it is another close by that sees the value in this role. Just understand that it might not be you. You have the majority of your experience as a lead-handler and sales manager. This is a major need for dealers everywhere and you may be typecast in that role for a while. Many dealers hiring for digital are looking for someone from outside the industry to give a fresh perspective. Don’t take offense to this. It is just one mindset. Keep looking and you’ll find a place that values the position you seek.
The metamorphosis from Internet sales manager to digital media specialist for a dealership is one commonly desired. Countless Internet managers feel this way. As a matter of fact, I tend to believe that any ISM who has been performing their job well for over five years would relish the opportunity to take on a full-blown digital position. If you are a general manager or owner reading this, and you value your current ISM, ask them their long-term goals. If they talk about controlling more digital initiatives for your store, consider a new position for them, or someone else may take them away and give them the role they want.
A change of pace is nice, but realize that it isn’t always necessary. At least that is what many dealer operators believe. It is up to the ISM to prove the purpose of the new position first, but they shouldn’t lose sight of their core responsibilities and what they were originally hired to do. Over time, through evolution, all ISM positions will incorporate digital. It is just up to the Internet sales manager and dealership operator as to when that dramatic shift takes place.