It’s funny, so many companies that I’ve worked for are so much more concerned with how they appear to their clients and the outside world that they pay ridiculous amounts of money (that trickle down to their customers) for PR and marketing to make sure they manage their image properly, and spin how they appear to people so that it fits nicely into the least offensive bucket, causing the smallest amount of controversial collateral damage. All this does is promote a culture of corporate ass-kissing and suck ups and sycophants. No one will tell the emperor he isn’t wearing any clothes, because if you do you’ll never get promoted, you’ll never get that cushy corporate membership and perks. It’s better to master mediocrity and acting like you are competent, than actually contributing anything worth a damn.
This translates over to Social Media and Car Sales as well. I was talking to Sarah Hayes, GSM at Bob Bell Ford in Maryland, about Social for her sales people and dealership and really trying to build it out. She was having her salespeople set up “Bob Bell” Facebook accounts and use them to market themselves that way. We talked about it for a while and I was curious why she didn’t just have them use their own Facebook accounts. In her defense, she was trying to protect her team and was concerned about some possibly questionable posts that could lose them sales. She brought up two examples of salespeople; One was a diehard Horror fan, and another grew up in a very rough part of Baltimore, grew up tough and a few years ago turned his life around. She wasn’t sure about pushing this out to the public. I told her it was a great story. It was real. People want to buy from people, not from a carefully curated version of people, but raw, real people. I told her one of my best friends grew up in a rough part of Baltimore too, and he’s one of the best salespeople I’ve ever met. He’s a story teller, and empathizes with people because of where he came from. The horror guy, well I would love to argue with him about why I’ve always like Freddy Kruger and his puns way more than Jason Vorhees and his kill count. I argue with another one of my buddies about this all the time. I would buy a truck from that salesguy, and I’m sure there would be many others who would seek him out, or at least not mind either. The Guy from Baltimore, well shit, everyone loves an underdog; everyone loves a comeback. He is turning his life around and I’m sure people would love to be a part of his story, if just to feel good about themselves at the end of the day.
People think that Rudy “EL Patronn” Treminio is a character. He’s not. He may be an amplification of himself, but that’s him. That’s who he is. I started following him on Facebook and thought he was loud and brash, and flashy (which he is), but that’s just who he is. I’ve also seen him motivate and try to inspire both his team and others. I’ve seen him being a great father who will take his daughters to work with him, because he works so much he can’t always spend time with them. I’ve seen him leave a $50 tip on a $20 dollar meal to try and make the waitress have a great Friday. I’ve seen him speak to a church full of people in Santo Domingo. Unless you were hiding under a rock this past week, you saw him everywhere at NADA. I don;’t think there was a single show, blog or attendee that didn’t want a piece of him. Do you know how I know all of this about Rudy? Facebook and the fact that he spends more time broadcasting live each day than most people spend working. And he’s the managing partner at his dealership to boot.
These are just two stories, from the past two weeks. People (customers) are sick of the carefully curated bullshit. You know what’s awesome about the human condition? We are all, inherently, very good at smelling bullshit. The only people who really fall for it are the ones who want the promise that they are being fed enough to hold their nose and chase it. They have chosen to ignore the bullshit, but even they still know it’s there. The best part of this pushback against bullshit? For us in the Automotive industry it’s easy. All you have to do is be yourself. If you don’t like yourself, you think you’re a douchebag, and don’t like it? Wake up tomorrow and be a better person. (I personally love being a douchebag, but I’m an endearing one, not an advantageous one) The best part of being yourself and trying to be better each day? Every bit of progress you make actually makes you better in the end. Instead of wasting all of your time and energy building a fake scenario and story around the person that you think people want to buy from, only to build a paper tiger.
My buddy from Baltimor? His storytelling rubbed off on me a bit over the years. My stories don’t always have a point, or at least not one I can sum up neatly, but I hope you all take something from this, and if not, I hope you at least enjoyed the ride…