Automotive retailing (and the automotive industry in general) has always been closely tied to technological advances that help shape – and disrupt – the consumer experience.
It can be jarring to think of how technology has transformed the vehicle sales process over just the last five or six years. Automation and digitization are redefining what efficiency in the dealership means. The connectivity of social media leads to hypertargeted advertising on a scale never before seen.
Perhaps the best encapsulation of recent technological change, though, is the advent of the smartphone. As an avatar for the rise of mobile technology, smartphones are the perfect symbol of not only how technology conquered the consumer experience, but why: convenience, empowerment, and instant gratification.
There’s a reason that, according to a recent study by Google, 87 percent of users always have their smartphones at their sides!
Aside from its disruptive power, however, mobilization also offers dealership operations a unique opportunity: the ability to leverage this ubiquitous technology to create a more accountable sales operation.
Actively encouraging your sales team to use mobile devices might seem like asking for a more distracted, less efficient operation. But, the truth is having a portable device in your pocket makes it easy to capture customer information from anywhere, which reduces excuses for incomplete or inaccurate information.
A good mobile CRM app can also help your sales staff hold themselves accountable, making it easy for them to track their goals and complete activities while on the go. Apps with a built-in sales process also make it easier for you to enforce proper sales techniques, creating a more consistent experience for your customers.
It’s important to note that this strategy really only works if you have a robust reporting system that allows you to identify those areas where your sales staff may need the extra help. This same system could also help identify larger trends and issues affecting your operation. Capabilities like real-time alerts and a quick notification system keep you in the loop without disturbing the sales process.
Finally, mobilization provides a way for you to address the ever-present issue of human entry error, speeding up the overall process of data entry and removing the risks of retyping information incorrectly. How?
If your mobile app of choice is equipped to integrate with other systems in your dealership, then the information collected by a mobile device becomes immediately available in your DMS. This function combines the best of automation, digitization, and mobilization to both increase efficiency and significantly reduce the threat of human entry error.
When reviewing mobile solutions for your dealership, one final note to consider (not so much a caveat as a friendly best practices reminder): While mobile apps make things a great deal more convenient and traceable, they can also raise some legitimate security questions.
According to ZoneAlarm, up to 90 percent of public Wi-Fi hotspots have inadequate security, making sensitive customer information more vulnerable to would-be hackers.
Having a secure wireless network can help reduce that risk. There’s also the potential for customer information to leave with a salesperson, particularly if that information is stored on a personal device, which is why it’s of paramount importance to remember how – and by whom – your customer information will be handled.
There’s no question that mobilization opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for connecting with your sales team’s minute-to-minute activities and, in the process, increasing accountability and accurate reporting. At the same time, it pays to keep the security of your customers’ data top of mind.
Leverage mobile devices as the essential CRM tools they have the potential to be and ensure your sales team is performing to the best of its ability!
Author: Ed Pontis
Ed Pontis is the Director of Product Planning, CRM and Variable Operations Solutions, for Reynolds and Reynolds. Ed and his team are responsible for the product direction of all Reynolds CRM and variable operations solutions, including Contact Management, docuPAD®, Desking, vehicle management, and more. Prior to joining Reynolds and Reynolds, Ed was a director with a large international consulting firm. There, he was part of the CRM practice focused on the consumer product industry. Ed brought with him some of the leading practices from these other consumer segments to Reynolds’ CRM solutions.