Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and what it really means!


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]



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