By Howard Leavitt
CRM is the current buzz word in our industry. Below is Wikipedia’s definition:
“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service. Customer relationship management describes a company-wide business strategy including customer-interface departments as well as other departments. Measuring and valuing customer relationships is critical to implementing this strategy”
We all look at what we have accomplished and it’s comfortable, it works, so why change the methods or the processes? We just keep doing the same thing and believe all will be well. The reason to change now is that technology and social media has changed the market place.
It does not matter if you are a one-person shop or a multi roof top enterprise you need to adapt, and adopt new methods for making the sale. The sale is still comprised of meet, greet, qualify, demo, and close but the pace is faster and you might never physically meet the customer. So acknowledge your pain and choose the digital CRM solution that will help increase your sales and profitability. Going digital should be a marriage of your process and personnel; it should not be so difficult that you spend more time policing the system than selling cars. It should be a tool that enhances established business practices that will make the sale and give the customer a great experience. Make it a simple process to determine what solution will work best in your dealership.
Here are a few basic steps in the process.
• Create a written sales process in detail that meets good business practices.
• Evaluate each of your sales people. Number of ups taken, closing percentage, delivery percentage, repeat business, mistakes, and computer skill level.
• Review findings with each sales person and set across the board goals.
• Review your Internet process and how it is being managed.
• Determine what your failings are and what needs to change. This is the hardest to come to grips with. Just be honest in addressing issues and move forward.
Changing culture also means making an investment in people and resources. Every vendor will tell you how you will get a return on investment in the first minute, hour, day or whatever they think will close the deal. It will not happen unless you change your internal culture and take charge of the sale process. Execution, and following good guidelines will take the monthly cost of any system and make the costs disappear. Your investment is in people first and then the equipment they need to work the solution you choose. Make it mobile so think of smart phones, tablets, and web access. Do not get locked into hardware that limits availability of your data. Make sure your security measures are in place so that your data is protected. You pay for every lead, every walk in, they belong to you so verify that this information is secure.
To maximize the value of a digital CRM you must setup some basic rules.
• Mandatory use of the solution.
• Collection of all contact information, name, address, phone, and email address.
• Interested vehicle information, trade information.
• Detailed notes.
• Action plan, with detailed follow-up steps.
These are no different than any paper system and should mirror any sales process you already have in place. The difference is that accountability is transparent which is one of the benefits of going digital. You will have the ability to see in reports or detail what is really happening in your sales process. It does not matter if you are not at your dealership you can still manage the business from anywhere with Internet access. Assign e-leads manually if you choose, allowing your sales team to quickly connect with the customer with the correct message and you have the advantage over your competition that has not made the transition to a digital solution.
So make the move today, do not wait one second more, it only takes your initiative.
Howard Leavitt is the founder of . With over 40 years of experience and with a strong reputation as one of the most accomplished retail managers on the U.S. automotive scene, he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge and leadership experience to help dealers down the path of success. He can be reached at [email protected].