Monthly Archives: August 2013

Can Old School Adapt to Automotive CRM?

“I’m old school.” Three simple words that are the bane of my training existence. While I love the challenge of connecting with “old school” guys, getting them to embrace the CRM culture can be frustrating. Is someone who prefers riding a horse over driving a car old school? What about using an abacus instead of a calculator – “Yea man I’m old school.”

OK – suit yourself

When trying to communicate the value and merits of a CRM system to an “old school” guy, the challenges are numerous. For many old-schoolers, the first hurdle is getting past their pride. If they’ve been selling cars for awhile then they’re probably doing well financially. Their client base is large enough to generate passive income which can occasionally lead to a delusional sense of pride; or if combined with a steady work-ethic, a merited sense of pride. But the hurdle is the same.

  • “I’m already successful – I don’t need this.”
  • “If it aint broke, why fix it.”
  • “Who is this poor, young punk trying to tell me how to do my job?!”

OK so I made that last one up, but I’m an expert at face reading! The way to reach these guys is not to eliminate their pride, but cater to it. Show them how the CRM, through it’s organizational properties alone, can help them make more money! In the words of Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good!” I recently showed an old-timer how the CRM would remind him of his equity calls, of his customer Birthday’s, purchase anniversaries and how he could use our DealMagic marketing tool to mine his database for any customer niche he wanted to reach out to. Everything he already did by hand, only better and faster! His response was mute, but he didn’t complain anymore.


The second hurdle is getting them to embrace the insecurity of change. Not change in and of itself, but the anxiety associated with the unknown, of being a beginner at something- the growing pains. For many old-timers, the CRM appears too techy, too complicated, and they give up on it the first time they experience frustration. The key to plowing through this hurdle is to communicate the CRM in a familiar way and show them that the CRM is not fundamentally different in process to what they currently do.

I recently trained a gentleman who made it known that he did not want to be trained. He had his black book and stack of papers and was comfortable with his process. I walked him through how to add a customer and work his Myday. The whole time he would add notes in his black book and fumble through his customer worksheets. But as the session continued, he started asking more questions and I could see his attitude shift from refusal to curiosity. The breaking point came when I had him go through his process, and then mirror that process in the CRM. It was immediately apparent to him that although his process was comfortable, it was slower and not as prolific as what the CRM could achieve. “It’s like an organizer, yea, I just need to play with it and get used to it” he told me.

Nobody likes change, but when training something new, it’s important to find those hot-buttons and make the unfamiliar familiar, the uncomfortable comfortable and get them to understand that – it’s designed to make your life easier, not make your life more difficult. Training old-timers can be more challenging, but the rewards to the dealership is often more rewarding for those willing to combine their old-school experience, with new school technology.

Intelligent Follow Up for Car Dealers

Throughout my retail automotive career I was always told: “Call them until they buy or they die!” I’ve been in hundreds of stores and have seen thousands of sales follow-up processes for everything from the Internet Department to the Service Drive. A couple of years ago I noticed a large number of stores were exceedingly heavy in follow up calls under that same mantra “Buy or Die.” Recently however, some of the more progressive stores I visit are taking a “less is more” approach and having much success with it.

The philosophy of persistent follow up hasn’t changed but the way dealers use CRM to accomplish it is what’s changing. Scheduling long term follow up with customers is an example. Dealers are now starting to evaluate the performance and execution of the people they hold accountable making these calls. Sales people are not necessarily the best people in the world at follow up as it is, hence the role of effective BDC personnel. Sales people are typically much better in front of the customer than they are with following up with them so why are we scheduling calls for a customer 30-60 days after they have been in the showroom? I’ll tell you, it’s because there’s still a possibility of a sale in this time frame (albeit not with the same likelihood that the customer that visited within the past 72 hours does but there still, there’s a possibility).

When using CRM to follow up with your customers the approach can’t be what the sales rep should do, it has to be the approach of what WILL they really do. Will your rep call a person who was in 60 days ago with the same enthusiasm as he will for the guy that was in 2 days ago? The answer is “No.” Your rep sees very little value in that call, and will make the call primarily to keep you off his back and just to “complete the task” rather than truly “accomplish” the task. That’s one of the most counterproductive approaches in our space. Action plans should be what you really can expect your staff to efficiently and effectively do. There’s less than a 30% close rate on walk in traffic. Think about your extended follow up process and whether your reps’ daily task list will be flooded with people they have an even smaller likelihood of closing. Do you really want to dilute it? What about the mental exhaustion that they’ll experience thus taking any life out of them for the money calls that do require a certain degree of enthusiasm?

Scheduling less, but more effective follow up for the first couple of weeks not only yields better results, it actually promotes better CRM usage. The reps feel the calls on their days are relevant and true opportunities, not just filler or busy calls.

In closing, there isn’t necessarily too much follow up with the customer but there is too much follow up for your sales reps. Remember, it’s not what they should do but what they will do effectively. Set your people up to be successful, not just busy.

Just Get ’em In

Just get them through the door! A common exclamation I hear over the course of training at dealerships. While it’s true that the more bodies that walk through the door, the more vehicles a dealership will sell, the relationship and rapport building between the seller and buyer is often overlooked.

At my last training, I found myself uttering the same line “work your follow-ups, get them through the door,” but after the training I had a great conversation with an Internet Manager on the art of follow-up. You want to pound the phones, but not the customer.” He went on to continue, “If I have to tell my guys to just get a customer through the door, then I did a poor job of training them.”

It was refreshing to talk to a manager that seemed to care about training his sales team, but more refreshing, he cared about the service he brought to his customers. Don’t leave 100 voice mails if you don’t have anything new to bring to the table! Sound excited, act like you have something great to offer the customer, get to know them a little bit, the relationship starts the first time you reach out to them.” Overall, the tone of his advice was ‘put the customer first’ “Car Buyers are more informed now than they ever were, I tell my guys, if the customer has specific questions, answer them, if you don’t know the answer come to me and I’ll tell you what to say.”

Ultimately the sales business is a people business, so it makes sense that on the journey to selling a vehicle, you’re really selling your self – a service. He ended our conversation by going on a tirade on how much he hates auto responders, “To me an auto responder is a sign that we’re too lazy to respond to the customer on our own.” Only to follow that up with “but I use an auto responder that fires late at night with the words at the bottom ‘sent from my iPhone’ – it’s killer.

CRM Best Practices for Sales Consultants

There are innumerable benefits enjoyed by each department within the store by employing successful CRM practices. It doesn’t just stop with the sales department. This is the first part in an ongoing series offering an in-depth view at how to do the basics of CRM brilliantly for all departments within your store. I’ve compiled this “Best Practices” list from my own personal CRM deployments from traveling across the country consulting in a wide array of dealerships.

I’m the first to say that nothing is “one size fits all” and there are several variations that will work wonderfully at one store but fail miserably at another. If you’d like to know specifics or have a question as to whether or not I’ve seen a practice in use before, just email me or post on our forum.

Add every customer into CRM

  • 100% of the people, 100% of the time; without fail.
  • Any system is only as good as the customer information given, so enter as much as possible.

Complete your tasks daily

  • Following through with commitments is Business 101. If you don’t call the customer on the day they’re scheduled then you appear unprofessional to the customer. Especially if they’re expecting a call from you on that day.
  • Time kills deals and by not contacting them they could have purchased elsewhere.
  • By completing your daily tasks you’re ensuring that every customer that you’re supposed to contact actually gets contacted. Thus every opportunity is maximized and nothing falls through the cracks.

Ensure you have correct critical information

  • Vehicle information, stock numbers, is the car a surprise, deal structure, nickname, (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. Etc.)
  • Correspondence that is sent on your behalf reflects on YOU and the dealership and if an email or a letter is generated that’s inaccurate everybody looks bad.
  • The show must go on! Life happens, days off happen, stuff happens! A sales manager needs to be able to jump into a deal efficiently and seamlessly without having to make a client wait to contact you on your day off.

Customer Files

Result all of your client contact daily

  • By successfully resulting the outcome of your client contacts you’ll ensure the software schedules the next contact in harmony with that set outcome (what actually happened).
  • There’s nothing worse than a manager doing his/her job and calling a client to ask why they missed their appointment when they in fact called you to reschedule! Or worse… they showed up.
  • The goal is to NOT look foolish and to portray a unified front whereby everybody is on the same page. When a customer has confidence that you and your team are on top of your profession they also feel more comfortable parting with their money and making a purchase.

Reply to customer emails, texts, calls and Internet leads IMMEDIATELY

  • Again, time kills deals!
  • The majority of people are communicating via mobile device today and that means a more immediate expectation. The one that accommodates has a much greater chance of winning.
  • For Internet leads, the first dealership to engage the customer is 5 times more likely to sell that customer a vehicle. There’s a 5x rule for you…

Ask for 2 phone numbers and an email address 100% of the time

  • Follow up is a key component if you want your be-backs to have a better closing ratio you need multiple media to communicate with your customers.
  • According to NADA, 7 out of 10 customers will provide their email address if they are simply asked for it.
  • Mobile numbers are even more critical today! Texting opt-in is a word track you must master.

Place phone numbers in the appropriate corresponding fields

  • You can’t text a land line (it won’t work) or calling the office at 10 am on a Sunday instead of the house or cell!

How to Be Aggressive Without Being Overbearing

What’s the one of the oldest strategies in the business?  Pound, pound, pound until you get the sale.

This style of selling has served the industry well for decades.  Unfortunately times have changed and customers have changed along with them.  We are now dealing with a customer that does not respond well to pressure; a customer that is used to taking their time, doing their research, and making decisions when THEY want to make them.  We now need to employ new strategies to succeed with this new breed of buyer.

There is a much finer line between enough attention and being overbearing than there used to be.  Pounding the phone 2-3 times a day, everyday for over a week is a good way to lose your customer and be written off as the dealer that just won’t leave them alone.  The most effective dealers I have been to have employed a more thought out approach that tends to avoid, the throw it against the wall and see what sticks, methodology commonly employed in the space.

The first thing to remember is to employ all lines of communication available to you.  If your team is missing on getting emails from your customers then you are definitely missing out on sales.  Mix it up whenever possible.  If you call for a few days give them a break, but send out emails during that break.  Change the content of the email and even who it’s being sent from.  Every correspondence should be different.  The idea is to be dynamic, not stale.

If we work smarter and worry about the quality of contact instead of the quantity, success is all but guaranteed.  The more personal you are with every interaction the more effective you will be, because remember, the strategies may have changed, but the game is still the same.  If you build the relationship, that sale is as good as made.