THE CLOSER
Inc.|September 2020
THE CLOSER
How I learned to outsell the sexists in auto showrooms and leveraged the experience to sell ad programs to dealerships.
BURT HELM

Diana Lee

Constellation Agency

THREE-YEAR GROWTH 4,865.5%

Diana Lee is the founder of the Constellation Agency, which produces hyper-targeted digital advertising for more than 700 auto franchises across the country, for brands including BMW, Audi, Jaguar, and Volks wagen. Today, much of the work is automated: The company’s software generates thousands of ads a month that make highly tailored offers, in multiple languages, based on a target market’s ethnic and labor mix and other demographic data. But it wasn’t always so hands-free. Lee describes how, with no outside funding or debt, she built an $18 million advertising agency by hitting the pavement and pitching car guys in their own showrooms. Little did they know, she had a secret weapon.

In the beginning, I would just drive from dealership to dealership myself, nine to 12 hours every day, pitching my business door-to-door. A lot of times, the guys there would make me wait—they’ve been pitched 50 times that week; they don’t want to hear another one, and especially not from me. To them, I’m this no-name 5-foot 4-inch Asian lady.

But within the first three months, I closed deals with 16 Volkswagen franchises. Soon enough, I get a call from Volkswagen corporate asking, who the hell are you? And why are you everywhere?

Well, I’m a pretty good closer. But there’s another thing the dealership guys never guess about me: When I step into a car showroom, I’m on my home turf.

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September 2020