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Do you Protect your Internet Sales Staff from the floor?

Feb 12, 2010
First Name
I am curious to see how other dealers handle protecting/skating of the internet sales department.

In our store we use HIgher Gear and the internet department uses it 100% of the time. My sales floor only logs ups in at the time of sale. Then we are notified in our CRM that one of our potential customers is in our store buying a car. When the GSM is notified he basically only cares that the car is sold and gives the line "Why didn't they ask for you....?" I will look into the history of the customer and if I see my staff has had recent contact (no auto responders), I feel that we are entitled to the customer. I will only protect my staff if they have been in touch in the last 2 weeks or less.

So my question is how do other stores handle this? I know this is going on in every store across the country so I would love to hear how some other dealers handle this. Do you protect your internet staff for a number of days/weeks?

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3rd Base Coach
Apr 30, 2009
First Name
Ahhh...the protection..and how to handle it. No matter what you decide, it needs to be in WRITING with NO gray area. Followed to the i's and t's. You need to protect the "floor" too....what about the customer that came in, then goes home that night and submits an internet request? A few examples:

1. Customer protection is valid for any salesperson having a logged and manager confirmed appt in the CRM. This protection extends for 12 hours before the appointment and 24 hours after the appointment.
2. Customer protection is valid for any salesperson that has recent 2 way communication with the customer. 2 way communication is an email RECEIVED from the customer and a response back from the salesperson, and/or a phone conversation with the customer (not a 'left message'). This protection will extend for 72 hours of the logged event in the CRM with notes for all phone conversations.
3. Customer protection is valid for any showroom visit that is logged in the CRM, and had a VALID and LOGGED turnover to management before the customer leaving . This protection shall be for 72 hours.

Anything not in the CRM...no protection. Any salesperson found to be skating will have the entire customer deal taken away - etc etc etc.

Of course you should also have a meet and greet sales step (step #1??) where the question of "What brought you to the dealership today?", "Have you been talking to or emailing with anyone here?", "Who are you here to see today?", etc etc etc.

Policies, dates, times will all vary based on dealership needs and wants.

Hope this helps.

Last edited:
Aug 20, 2009
First Name
The problem is, there's always an element of gray. If the policy is a contact within 2 weeks and the only contact the CA had with the customer was a voice mail or an email, do they really deserve the deal? Most of our stores don't have a dedicated internet department. But in the stores that do, the skate policy is showing a succession of recent communication with the customer. One email or a voicemail does not constitute a split deal. The rule is open to interpretation by management.

BTW, small world. I used to work with one of your CAs at the Honda dealership up the street.
Get Podium

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
First Name
A little history....

In 1998 we started an Internet Department that was centralized and served 9 different locations. When a deal was sold that could be sourced to the Internet Department the commission was split between the sales agent and the Internet Department.

I sold cars during those days and I recall how much I hated the Internet Department. "You mean to tell me these 3 people down the street just told a customer to walk in at 3:15 PM today and I just spent 5 hours negotiating and holding their hand for a mini deal? A mini deal that is now being split with someone who didn't do crap!!! F^[email protected] that!!!" The sales floor ended up sabotaging the department by hiding deals from them. Managers actually helped. It was an unfair pay plan. But it made sense from the 10,000-foot-view.

The department was dissolved around 2000. In 2001 my GM approached me and said "Alex, you're in college, you're young, you can type - can you handle these Honda leads I'm catching a lot of hell over for not answering?" That's when I got involved in the Internet business. Over time we found a need to export things I was doing at Honda to other stores and in 2004 my current position was created.

In 2004 we started our "re-newed Internet Department" evolution with Internet Sales Coordinators (most other dealerships call them Internet Sales Managers). With multiple rooftops I quickly discovered that a few of these ISC's would only work if I was standing over their shoulders - the stores had no desire to manage them. In some cases these ISC's were splitting deals with sales agents, so they were hated.....and I think that had a bit to do with the managers' attitude toward managing them.

In 2005 we turned our Toyota store's Internet Department into a hybrid BDC. It worked so well, that we consolidated the entire company into one BDC in 2006. The real trick was not to repeat what our last centralized Internet Department did, so we charged the BDC to the advertising budget and did not do anything to effect a sales person's commission or unit count.

In September of 2008 the economy went to hell. We went through lay-offs and broke the BDC up to become ISC's in the stores again. We thought our GM's and sales managers were better versed and educated (and they were) to better manage the ISC's this time around. But by January of 2009 it was obvious things were being neglected. All the strides we made in the CRM were gone, people were demoralized, everything I built was disappearing - it was a sad time for me.

By March of 2009 the signs were so clear that we put everything back to the way it was before September 2008.

Summary: Why do I tell you this?

Mainly because it is a little after 6:00 AM and I ramble before I have my full dose of coffee :lol: ...just kidding, there are a few lessons to be learned here.

1. People are dumb and lazy by nature. Jeff and I were reminded of this yesterday after a little April Fools joke :rolleyes:

2. There is a deeply embeded culture of "wait for a customer to show up; don't go get one" that has infected our sales floors. I'm talking about our entire industry.

3. Don't mess with a sales person's money. If they perceive you to be taking their money, they will rebel. No matter how worthy or rational the cause.

4. Don't expect a sales floor to get anything done beyond working a customer in person and the other traditional activities. Over time, this has changed, but it is a slooooow change.

To answer your question

We don't need to protect our BDC because they don't "take anything away" from the sales floor - they add to it! Sales agents and managers now view them as a huge assistance that allows them to concentrate on the things they like doing. The only issue we have is trying to stop a sales agent from entering a duplicate customer and fouling everyone up by putting us all on different CRM follow-up tracks with that customer. It took me over 10 years to learn that this is the way to do it. It will take me another 10 years to keep pushing the sales floors toward breaking their "wait for a customer to show up; don't go get one" culture.


Apr 16, 2009
First Name
I have mentioned this a few times in different threads. Our store moved to a 2 internet manager system in March of last year. When a internet customer comes in ,who ever greets them, gets them and both of us ( ISM'S) are paid the same amount. We do not deliver, test drive or do any paperwork. We let salespeople do all of that. Sales jumped 40% in 12 months. We set a new record last month with 102 sales.

It's a great system, allows salespeople to be on the floor. Internet leads get a quick response and better follow up. Not to mention no fights with salespeople.

Jeff Kershner

May 1, 2005
First Name
Great job Dan - it's nice hearing you and Hal are stilling going strong. I think the set up there - ISM/Appointment specialists tends to be the best set up for most dealers.

As you said - "It's a great system, allows salespeople to be on the floor. Internet leads get a quick response and better follow up. Not to mention no fights with salespeople. "

Alex, thanks for the history book. :) Your 4 point summary is right on. Funny how you and I were having this same conversation last night.

I hate heat between the Sales Department and the "internet sales department" - it does nothing for the dealership overall. Find a process that removes your "internet sales department" if you can. It's not always an easy sell though.
Get Podium
May 28, 2009
First Name
lol....this is way to familiar to me. I had the same problem when I was running the internet for 3.5 stores back in the day. We made a process that made the sales people log the up before going through the process. They get notified of similar or exact matches and at that time they are to turn it over.

It worked out because they were given a list of questions to ask.

"Before we get started mr and mrs. buyer we don't want to waste your time so I have some questions I need to ask about your wants and needs over a hot cup of coffee or a cold bottle of water."

This is where we would take a sheet of paper out and ask.....
1) how many people are in your family that will be riding in the new vehicle with you?
2) Is there a particular vehicle that brought you here today?
3) Are you interested in possibly saving money if we have similar options other than the make and model you are interested in?
4) What is the most important things to you individually?
5) Do you have a trade in and why did you buy that car at the time?
6) Have you ever worked or spoken with anyone here at the dealership by phone or email?
7) Before we drive the few cars I have in mind and the one you came here to see I need to get a valid drivers license for both of you. I would say this is just in case you push me out of the car and try to keep it without paying :) people kind of thought it was funny.
8) Thats when you enter the info into Sales force and this gives your sales managers the heads up you have a live one before you print the 4 square.
9) It will also give the internet director the heads up so he can go down stairs and either take over or assist with the sale and protect his internet manager.
10) as long as the customer doesn't feel the awkwardness that seemed to be the best way for us.
11) like these other guys, if we hadn't spoke to them in the past 7 to 10 days we were out.

I don't care how many times you get it in writing it will always be an issue. My experience is you need to have a GM that cares more than to say take it up on the back lot. Sales are more difficult when you have a black eye and your customers are always scared of you.
Dec 7, 2009
First Name
I had occasion to visit a large dealer group doing well and investigated what they were doing in managing the issues discussed here. The also had a complete segregated BDC, located off premises. The budget for the BDC was part of the Advertising/Marketing. While I did not get into specific pay plans, the whole purpose of the BDC was to schedule appointments, and deliver customers to the local stores. They tracked conversions, had a telemarketing center, graphic web design etc. all located as part of the BDC. I think Alex is spot on. from what I saw I would do exactly the same.


Getting Refreshed
Apr 10, 2009
First Name
What about protecting the floor from the internet staff?

If someone walks in as a brand new lead does a test drive and then goes home and submits a lead on your website or somewhere on the internet, what happens?