So many changes have occurred in the car business in the past 20 or so years. Take CRM for example, what did salespeople do 30 years ago? 20 years ago? Maybe even 10 years ago? I guess some things have changed for the better while many things have stayed the same.
I have been around the car business for approximately 20 years. My uncle sold cars and managed at a couple of dealerships when I was younger. I would go with my father when he went to buy a car and I would just be bored. I was too old to play in the kids area and too young to test drive cars. I would just observe everyone around me. I would see the service department, it looked busy enough. I would watch the salespeople in fascination. I thought, it must be cool to be around all of these new cars. Jump ahead a couple of years and I would stop by my uncle’s dealership (not his but the one he worked for) and see if there was anything I could do to help. Occasionally, he would send me out to pick up a car, dealer trade or body shop. Usually, I was just there to see if he ordered lunch and I could have some of it.
One of the last times I was there, I was trading in my piece of crap car for another clunker. It was cold, I remember that much, and it wasn’t busy at all. Most of the salespeople were sitting around desks having meaningless conversations. There were a couple of salespeople playing cards, another one throwing a mini football around, and a couple more outside smoking. It wasn’t at all what you see today. I didn’t hear anyone telling these people to make calls or making them do any sales training. As a matter of fact, I think my uncle and the salesperson working with us were the only two people doing much of anything.
Fast forward a few years and I am working for a “buy here pay here” company. I am a cashier/collector. This was my first experience with a CRM of sorts. I used it as place to log our payment receipts. The girls in the back would leave me a note when I logged into customer accounts. Most would say something like, verify the next payment will be on time or call me when this person shows up. When I started making collection calls, this was where I would note when I spoke to someone, what amount was agreed to and when it would be in, etc. It was good to know it was in the system and not left on a piece of paper somewhere to be misplaced or tossed out later.
A few more years have gone by and I am in the thick of it all. I am selling cars and using the CRM tool that my dealership uses, to the fullest. I would put notes in for every customer about everything we ever discussed. What message I left, what info I sent in an email, the numbers we discussed, the kids names, everything. I was a little OCD when it came to this but I did this so there was no guessing at a later date. I knew, on that slow day, I could go into any of my customer records to find a deal. I could go to people that were in the store 4 months ago and see why they didn’t buy at that time. I could see what I needed to do or say to make them consider buying now. I also did this because of my managers. I hated re-hashing deals. I knew if I noted everything, I wouldn’t have to waste 45 minutes of my life on a Tuesday morning answering the same question over and over again.
All of this makes me wonder, what did car salespeople do before CRM? I lived by the system, making notes, scheduling calls, sending emails. Would sticky notes and legal pads have worked for me? Would I have been successful in this business before all of this wonderful technology? I am not sure about you but I am happy I don’t have to worry about it.