Just before unveiling new product enhancements at NADA 2013, three of Dealer.com’s CRM Architects came together to answer some frequently-asked CRM questions and share the thinking behind the product. To join the conversation, please submit your own question in the comments section below.
The internet has transformed automotive sales. But how has that online revolution impacted operations and the CRM side of the business?
Alex Snyder: I remember when the first websites began to show invoice pricing on new cars and providing estimates on trades. It was an extremely difficult reality to swallow because we were instantly forced into a world that didn’t revolve around the showroom floor.
Greg Anderson: Now research shows consumers visit close to 30 different websites before electing to engage with a dealer. They do this over a period of up to 9 months. And in many cases the dealer is still trying to get the customer into the “buy it now” process that has worked so well for so long.
AS:That’s where CRM comes into things. We’re finally seeing sales managers working within the same system as their Internet departments. That was a phenomenal first step. But traditional CRMs haven’t kept pace with the mass of communications happening outside the showroom. Dealers need to have clearer visibility into the whole digital world, as well as activity inside the showroom. Today’s CRMs should offer complete visibility of the entire customer sales cycle, and allow dealers to continuously prove their own value.
How does Dealer.com CRM deliver that level of visibility?
AS: We focused on providing insight that managers need to make business decisions, and on delivering it in real time. Managers can now constantly help sales agents and Internet departments say the right things to customers.
John Houmis: To that point, our CRM has actually been designed for use on most tablets. Many of our Dealer Principals and General Managers are able to have a complete view from 35,000 feet of what’s occurring in their stores while traveling in a airplane, or anywhere else. Plus the app allows different user roles in the dealership to complete just about any CRM task.
Beyond visibility, how is CRM designed to help dealerships implement better overall operations?
AS: Our CRM began development in 2012, so it’s built on new technology and flexible enough to power into tomorrow’s. As John mentioned, through its mobility and web-based nature, users aren’t tethered to a store desk. Reporting is real-time and available at 3:00 AM, from a Starbucks, in the airport, etc. That keeps people accountable, and makes it easier for managers to be pro-active.
GA: Salespeople too. It’s activity ranking brings an element of psychological motivation to the follow up process. No one wants to be at the bottom, and new hires and veterans alike will strive to accomplish their daily tasks for the “bragging rights.”
John Quinn: We’re seeing it inspire sales agents and Internet departments to strive for top placement daily. The ranking system is based on sales, appointments, and customer communications. Staff are ranked daily and monthly, so everyone can be a hero at different times of the month. This not only inspires better CRM utilization, but better operations, and more sales.
What else do dealers need to know to be successful with Dealer.com CRM? How is it different than other CRMs they may have used in the past?
GA: Many of today’s CRM solutions are over-engineered and fail to follow the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid! That can result in a steep learning curve that most users find difficult to master, even with extensive training. Dealer.com CRM simplifies the training process by cutting out the clutter and providing a user-friendly interface relevant to an individual’s role.
AS: As funny as this sounds, Dealer.com CRM was truly built around the customer. All communications, activities, edits/updates and pencils can all be performed on the customer page, which slides, so people always have the most relevant information on the same screen. It is really hard to get lost. That’s just one example of why Dealer.com CRM is so easy to train people on.
JH: I spent many years as a Sales Manager and GSM, so I think the Sales Manager Dashboard is groundbreaking. Every CRM I ever used had good looking bar graphs and pie charts, but they forgot the customer. Charts only give you totals, but the single most important thing occurring in any sales department today are quality and content of interactions between staff and customers.
GA: In order to get engaged with those customer interactions, we’re saving the graphs and charts for reporting where they should be and making customer interactions clearer in real time–whether you’re viewing every email that has been sent or received or confirming appointments.
JH: I’ll just add something simple to that. No more hourglasses. How much time do users spend each day clicking through layers of page loads and watching the dreaded hourglass spin? Our team has placed an extraordinary amount of effort into the death of the hourglass! Our users are literally able to complete nearly all of their responsibilities each and every day without loading a single page.
Let’s talk about tracking and metrics. Data and analytics are an increasingly important part of dealership life, but it’s easy to get lost in a sea of metrics and numbers. What are the most important things dealers should measure in today’s environment? How does CRM help them do it?
JH: When I used to use other CRMs in my dealerships, it would be like mining for data. I had to put a miner hat on and grab a pick axe to go digging around in the cave to find one metric. Too much data analysis, and a bunch of different reports made me cross-eyed. By making the reports into stories, we have attempted to alleviate a lot of the craziness that goes into the metric hunt.
AS: Personally, I’ve always been interested in measuring how one statistic leads to another…cause and effect. I like to look at things like how many emails were sent by a sales agent and how many of those emails were responded to by a customer. By measuring that percentage, it’s simple to tell whether that sales agent needs some coaching on what he’s typing in his emails. But my favorite metric is the simple old closing ratio. I look for sales agents whose closing ratio is higher than 25% as an indicator that they’re cherry-picking customers.
Where do you see dealership operations going in the next few years? How will CRM evolve to meet the changing landscape?
AS: Because so much more is trackable and so many more customers are shopping and making decisions without speaking to a dealer, I see the lines between dealership operations and marketing blurring. In order to be the right choice for consumers the operational side will need to be fully versed in the messaging consumers are seeing.
GA: Agreed. Dealers will need to reaffirm the branding and marketing messages the customer has based their decision on. With so many more avenues to dealership information, every customer is a little different. CRM will help dealers understand each one a little better, then empower dealers to reinforce that they made the right choice in picking that dealership.