THE CLOSER
Inc.|September 2020
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.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM INC.View All

REPEAT PERFORMANCE

TWO-TIME SELLER

2 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

MAY THE BEST BRAND WIN!

Zico founder Mark Rampolla recently bought back his coconut water company after a sale that decimated the brand. Now he’s rebuilding it with a new team, but facing fierce competition from an old rival.

10+ mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

HOW BORING BENEFITS CAN PAY OFF

The pandemic, the grim economy, and the stress of remote work have made employees’ physical, mental, and financial well-being more important than ever. At the same time, bosses are trying to meet their employees’ needs on a tighter budget. One solution? Voluntary benefits.

3 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

Is This a Business?

Marco Zappia, a former bar director in Minneapolis, has an idea for a cocktail commissary business.

2 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

How To Spy On Your Rivals

Inc. doesn’t recommend corporate espionage—but if you can get creative while staying on the right side of the law, go for it. That’s what John Ross, CEO of Test Prep Insight, was thinking when he heard that one of his competitors was meeting with a potential buyer. Ross—who was also contemplating a sale of his Sacramento-based online education company, wanted to get some intel on the buyer. But how?

1 min read
Inc.
March - April 2021

Cybercriminals Target SMBs, But New Technology Helps Fight Them Off

Contrary to popular belief, big companies are not the only favored targets of cybercriminals. SMBs are just as attractive.

2 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

HR Technology Adapts to Remote Work's Permanence

From social issues to virtual collaboration, HR technology is evolving to meet the needs of future employment models.

2 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

I Was Wrong: No More Mr. Nice Guy

For three years, Dan O’Malley tried to be the boss everyone loves—never criticizing, always smiling. Now, he says that was the wrong approach.

2 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

Should You Be More Like Bezos?

As the Amazon founder exits the CEO role, he leaves his successor a set of rules that might be helpful to any entrepreneur bent on conquering the known universe.

9 mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021

Invitation To a Crisis

Sometimes, a little added pressure can help your team scale new heights.

10+ mins read
Inc.
March - April 2021
RELATED STORIES

FORD TO GO ALL ELECTRIC IN EUROPE BY 2030

Ford announced a major push into electric vehicles in Europe, vowing to convert its entire passenger car lineup on the continent to electrics by 2030.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #486

Volkswagen Triples Electric Car Sales Ahead Of Climate Rules

Europe’s push into electric cars is gathering speed — despite the pandemic.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #481

NEW SUV IS NEXT STEP IN VW'S POST-SCANDAL ELECTRIC OFFENSIVE

Volkswagen is unveiling a battery-powered sport-utility vehicle that is headed for global markets including the United States and China, as the company takes a major step forward in its campaign to make electric cars a mass-market choice.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
September 25,2020

The Humble Hybrid

While EVs grab headlines, a gas-electric ride is probably a more practical choice.

1 min read
Men's Journal
April 2020

PERFORMANCE AND PRESENCE

BENTLEY DEVELOPS THE DEFINITIVE MODERN LUXURY SEDAN

3 mins read
Motor Trend
February 2020

History Made

KIA JOINS THE PREMIER LEAGUE

8 mins read
Motor Trend
January 2020

Who's Got The Plug?

EV Infrastructure is a Critical Part of the Segment’s Growth – and we’re still trying to figure it out as a business

7 mins read
Innovation & Tech Today
Fall 2019

Is China Still GM's Promised Land?

As the carmaker plays catch-up on EVs, Chinese consumers are turning away

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 25, 2019

Tamiya M-06 Volkswagen Type 2 T1 Bus

VW’s iconic 23-window hippie-hauler comes to RC as a quick-handling fun-runner

2 mins read
Radio Control Car Action
December 2019

VW's New Flagship Is Gorgeous, But It's No Audi.

VW's new flagship is gorgeous, but it's no Audi.

3 mins read
Motor Trend
August 2019