I recently moderated a roundtable of Internet and BDC managers at the 8th Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, Florida and one of the objectives of the attendees was to find a good ILM, DRM, ERP and CRM software.
For many of us “old timers” out there – some of these acronyms puzzle us. ILM stands for Internet Lead Management software. DRM is Digital Response Management, and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is another name for a DMS.
Some of the providers of combined CRM/ILM software exhibiting at the conference were AVV Web Control, Izmocars, AutoRapter, CAR-Research XRM, DealerUps, and iMagicLab. Most feel that they are not only ILM providers but also a CRM solution for dealers.
So the question I asked my dealer friend Tommy (who was shopping for an ILM,) “What is the difference between CRM and ILM?” He gave me a simple explanation (thank you, Tommy,) “ILM is normally missing service department information like last service date and future service appointments.” I found that it is also a lot less money; he was looking seriously at a product that would do all his ILM objectives for only $200 a month for both dealerships. Try getting CRM for that price! But what if he needs CRM too for data mining his service customers? Will he end up with another database to maintain and another monthly payment?
According to one of my roundtable participants, Corbin Wade, the E-Commerce Director for Wade Auto Centers, “Less is more when it comes to software programs. The less you have to manage and keep updated the more time you have to focus on your main goal — selling cars.” But he added, “CRM tools are a must in our group. They offer a way for us as dealers to manage, retain, interact, and win customers every day.”
Autobase claims to be a “true CRM” product. Steve Lausch, the marketing manager at Autobase says, “Rather than simply having a CRM component to manage its leads, a true ILM functions as part of the dealer’s overall CRM strategy. It naturally lives within and flows from a strong CRM solution, delivering the many benefits of a single marketing database for every customer who has ever touched the dealership. We’ve seen it too many times: CRM can’t be successfully tacked onto ILM.”
Stan Thomas of DealerUps expanded on this, saying, “ILM- is a tool of just one department that handles internet leads whereas CRM encompasses a whole multitude of dealership departments and processes, from Internet, Sales floor, Phone- Ups, BDC/CRC, F&I, and Service. CRM takes all singular departments, like ILM and brings them together as a group. CRM has the ability to cross reference the customers or clients from department to department and store all data in one location.”
The answer to question of whether or not your CRM can also be your ILM is to define ILM for your dealership. If you’re looking for CRM of your leads, then most CRM tools and even my DealerStar DMS handles that. Just enter the leads into your leads/prospect database with a source of “Internet” or by the type of lead provider, such as, “AutobyTel.” You can then track them like any other lead to obtain closing ratios, gross profit by provider, appointment tracking, etc.
If you want more DRM features like automatic responses, price quotes, instant notifications, respond time analysis – then you’ll need more than what most CRM or DMS providers have.
After looking at SmartQuotes from one of the exhibitors, Responselogix, I had to wonder if you’d still need an Internet department, but they feel you can reduce Internet Sales Manager turnover by freeing time for more sales calls. With SmartQuotes, you set up how you want to send a quote to a customer and it does it all for you — 24/7. They work with about 30 CRM companies and two members of my roundtable use it – mostly because of how great the follow-up works.
If you’re like my roundtable members and trying to define CRM, ILM, and DRM – then maybe it is time to make a wish list and then the next time you’re shopping, see if one of the great exhibitors at the 9th Digital Dealer Conference in Las Vegas October 12-14 can provide most everything on your list.