Anyone using CRM Solutions?

JD Rucker
It's very robust - almost too robust for automotive. That's not to say that it couldn't be properly applied at a dealership, but their support is designed to be hands on if you're a big fish with hundreds or thousands of employees. We use it and swear by it but I'm not sure if I would recommend it to a dealership when there are strong players in our industry that have support that will roll up their sleeves and get to work with a localized dealership. Salesforce is a client of ours as well on the social media side and I can tell you that their social integration is getting to the point that I might re-evaluate my recommendations in the near future. It's hot!
Adam Ross
Hi Eric, Great question. As a one-man operation running Infinite Prospects, I've been using's Professional version (not the grand-daddy Enterprise Edition) to manage my history interaction with prospects and clients from the day I opened my doors. I looked at several other cloud-based CRMs (Sugar, Zoho, and others) before deciding on Salesforce - though more expensive, it looked like it could "play better with others." I use Constant Contact and there's a nice tie-in between the two products. There are a lot of positives and I'm sure I'm still not using it to it's 100% fullest potential, but here are 6 of the biggest issues I've experienced along the way with Salesforce are: 1) It's challenging to customize the system to work for your business. Unless you hire people to set up, administer and maintain the system full-time, it can be difficult for people to learn and understand how to set it up while simultaneously being responsible for a completely different full-time job. I had to customize the platform some with the help of a friend who worked as a Salesforce developer for one of their biggest customers. I know several of the larger companies in our industry use it, but those are usually orgs with sales staffs in the 20+ range who hire a full-time staff to admin it. 2) The idea behind a great CRM is that the tool not just there to keep activity history records and provide management with stats on employees' productivity. Great CRM is supposed to help you find and prospect for business, and remind you who to follow up with when. This can't be achieved in Salesforce without significant enhancements to the basic platform they provide, up front, before usage habits develop. 3) Apps need to be installed, and sometimes purchased, from the AppExchange to achieve your goals. This is an App Store for bolt-on products that third party companies develop code to perform enhanced duties that Salesforce does not natively provide. Having to purchase multiple apps, plus the time to install and set up other free apps, can significantly increase the cost per user. Apps that interface with Google Calendar, which can be placed on cell phones, bring partial information into the system, but the activities still then need to be tagged to a contact, account and/or opportunity. Another app had to be purchased to log all inbound and outbound email correspondence to lead and contact files. 4) Lack of a quality hard-line or VOIP interface that integrates with phones to automatically log inbound and outbound calls and assign them to prospects and customers. As a business owner and salesperson on the go, I am rarely in front of a computer with a phone next to it and a headset, the optimal way to log calls and activity in Salesforce. Since the CRM is completely web-based, there's no way to plug into a Vonage or Barracuda server. There's no direct link to Google Voice or Skype's call logs. As a result, many calls go un-logged, un-tagged and un-tracked. To be fair, I haven't heard of any non-server-based CRM tool that can do this, but THAT is something that could REALLY help my business. 5) Lack of a quality Mobile App. How is that possible in 2013, that the leader in the space doesn't have a decent one? You can make calls directly through the iPhone and Android Apps, but who wants to run their phone through Salesforce all day? One major limitation- the Salesforce app doesn't store ALL of your contacts - only a small portion of them (like 500). The Android App (iPhone won't let anyone see its call log file) has a decent look-back feature, which reads from your phone's call history log easily and enables you to Tag a call to a contact, account, and/or opportunity. However due to the contact limitation, if I get a call from someone I haven't heard from lately, to sync that call to Salesforce, I would first have to a) look them up as a contact in the app (loading from the server, which is sometimes very slow), b) let the info load their info into the cache of current contacts, then c) go BACK to the call log section of the app, find the call and tag it. And that's for ONE contact! Efficient? Hah. 6) Only 1 email address natively per Contact/Prospect that syncs with Google contacts? Why? They have spots for Work, Home and Mobile phone numbers... How many people do you know who ONLY have one email address today? How 1996 of them! Ask support how they want you to handle that - they don't really have a good answer. Why, you ask, am I still using it if I can show these major glaring holes? Because, sadly enough, I still haven't seen anything that better suits my needs. It's far from perfect, but I have 3 years invested, and I got through the initial hurdles. To leave now is to abandon all of the contact history. Sure - I can export the names, numbers, and database info, but the record of calls, meetings and emails cannot be exported. What gets lost in a changeover is too expensive to me at this point. Thanks for getting me worked up and writing about this!
Adam Ross
Comments need to be able to have Paragraph spacing! Gonna place this in a blog post so people can read it.
Cassie Allinger
When I was working at Crown Motors, we were using salesforce CRM and it was by far the most capable and flexible automotive CRM I've ever worked with. Have you checked out DealerTeam? It is an automotive specific CRM built on the Salesforce/ platform. In fact, it's actually the result of years of customizing the Salesforce CRM to Crown Motor's business needs. It's quite impressive:
Eric Miltsch
Adam - Killer response. (The paragraph rendering does happen - after it posts, we're working on that:) Thanks for sharing such in-depth overview! Also, have you looked at their new website platform tools as well? And yes, Cassie, the DealerTeam solution very interesting. Was wondering if anyone would mention it, should have know it would be you!
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