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

Diana Lee

Constellation Agency


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