With so many CRM tools in the market today, it’s important for dealers to stop and apply basic principles to the CRM purchase process. The first thing to consider is your environment. This means checking to see if your dealership has the right network structure in place, PC hardware, bandwidth, accessibility, people and the right focus. If your environment doesn’t support CRM processes, future success will be jeopardized. A great example of this is the operator who is charged with making the best first impression with your customers, but is also closing out repair tickets and cashiering. No matter how strong the operator is in this environment, he or she jeopardizes success when forgetting to focus on a great first impression.
CRM is no different. If your environment is not conducive to supporting strong processes, then your overall success is limited. Ask yourself, “Do I have the right network with the right bandwidth? Does my hardware and accessibility of my PC promote a strong environment?”
The days of sharing PCs are over. With social being one of the strongest points of communication, it’s vital for all salespeople to have a PC at their desks. Network bandwidth is becoming more important, as DMS solutions are requiring larger bandwidth consumption. Additionally, the IP telephony trend continues to grow, requiring even more bandwidth. Consider your overall data strategy. When thinking about your dealership’s DMS and CRM, you’re really managing data flow to optimize opportunity visibility as well as speed up workflow around those opportunities. Even today there are still data structures that prohibit or limit success, simply due to silo data architecture.
The next thing to consider is your customer engagement strategy. This is where the rubber meets the road. A great approach to this is creating overall process maps that include: Internet process, appointment process, showroom control process, loyalty conditioning process, service retention process, service drive lane and appointment process. From those processes, identify the impact areas where your dealership actually engages prospects or customers around sales or CSI, etc. Add the actual touch points of those engagements. The touch points identify whether or not these engagements are reactive and date/time planned. Date/time planned touch points are generally the result of automated workflow from your CRM software.
The other important factor regarding these touch points is whether or not they are high impact or low impact touches. High impact touches are those that need either face to face engagement or a phone call. Low impact touches can utilize a myriad of technology to support them like email, video and pre-recorded voice to name a few. Most soft touches can be defined and support through your CRM’s automated workflow. The great thing about this A-Z touch point strategy is that it makes it easier to define execution. My opinion regarding using the phone is “less is more.” So many times I walk into a dealership only to see that forgotten calls are in the unmanageable hundreds. This is what happens when dealerships do not use the right technology to support the soft touches: salespeople call every type of touch. In turn, salespeople decide which calls are important to them based on their skill level and understanding of the purpose of the call. The bottom line is that the dealer loses control of this business model. By limiting the call traffic per opportunity, higher engagements result that are both measureable and easily reviewed.
Do you have the right people with the right mindset? This is the most important basic principle. It’s also where most CRMs become expensive paper weights. A top down strategy needs top down leadership by example. Creating closed loop CRM processes is key. An example of a closed loop process is an appointment process where the sales rep makes the appointment and the manager confirms it. Regardless of whether or not you have training on this, closing the loop with management interaction only creates increased potential for success.
The last principle is the technology itself or CRM. CRM is the most abused acronym in this industry with many people claiming to have a CRM, when it can’t support this A-Z strategy. Dealers are then left struggling to convert leads through an appointment process or are weak in showroom control, or service retention. Base your decision-making criteria on technology that supports your processes; both short and long term. Challenge your CRM vendor to support your CRM processes from A to Z.