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Ben Lancaster

Ben Lancaster Retail Editor

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Dealer Participation Requested - Vendor Ratings Transformation

Dealership Participation Requested

DrivingSales has undertaken the process of transforming the Vendor Ratings section of the DS website. It is our goal to constantly provide the dealer community with the best resources to operate successful businesses and learn about new offerings and technologies in the marketplace.

The new Vendor Ratings area of the website will feature the following enhancements:

  • Comprehensive Buyers Guides focused on key categories and business technologies that impact your dealership.
  • Expert written Product Reviews that supplement the buyers guides and provide product specific information.
  • Enhanced ratings and product feedback channels to let your voice be heard and share experiences with your fellow dealers.
  • Expanded vendor content and interaction.
  • Much more!

In order to accomplish these enhancements we want your feedback. Throughout the course of the update to the Ratings area of the website (12-14 months), I will be posting the current buyers guide and product review outlines that we anticipate to apply toward our upcoming category.

Utilizing this blog and the shared knowledge of our dealer community, I would like to receive feedback on the direction we are headed. I hope that the community feedback we receive will help make the new content as useful as possible to our many dealer users.

Check back often, as we will post a new category’s buyers guide and product reviews every 3-4 weeks.

Current Category: CRM

Up Next: DMS

Thank you in advance for your participation in the next version of Vendor Ratings/Review.

Ben Lancaster

Retail Editor - DrivingSales


Buyers Guide:

CRM Buyers Guide Outline – Draft 7/2/15


Buyers Guide Video Overview:

  • 2-3 minute video providing a brief synapsis of the Category and utilization of the Guide. Key topics will be touched on at a high level (detailed insight will be contained within the guide).


Category Overview:

  • Introduction to the category – CRM Definition: The principles, practices, and guidelines that an organization follows when interacting with its customer.
  • Importance of retaining customers in todays marketplace (basic statistics on repurchase intent and consumer loyalty)
  • Foundation for dealership lead management strategy and ownership retention
    • “Window” into customer interaction within the dealership
    • Workflows to support dealership process to drive departmental efficiencies
  • Future of Successful Dealerships
    • Use of data and “single voice” to create a dialogue with consumers/owners

The Mission:

  • What solution is right for you?
    • Single storefront  - Sales Department focused
    • Single storewide integration between all departments
    • Multi-Location coordination and integration
    • Enterprise-wide integration of multiple locations into one central BDC/Marketing operation
  • Select a solution that can grow with the business by being flexible enough to allow you to choose the features that are required today while keeping an eye toward the future.

Productivity Everyday -Day to Day:

  • Fundamental requirements that drive productivity (things to consider)
    • Ease of use (adhering to interface conventions familiar to the team from daily use of everyday phones, tablets, and computers)
    • Adequate integration of customer data and leads from multiple dealership sources (everything in one place)
      • Solid process for cleansing of records
    • Easy to follow calendars, workflows and reminders that promote productivity.
    • Integration of multiple communication channels for consumer-driven dialogue
  • Example features
    • Auto lead follow-up based on defined criteria (process automation)
    • Daily planning tools, calendars and to-do’s
    • Lead Integration
  • Expanding beyond the Sales Department
    • Integration between sales and service
    • BDC
    • Used vehicle watch lists


  • Multi-tiered hierarchy that supports visibility to daily activities from the dealer principle throughout the organization
  • Dashboards and customizable reporting that supports the organizations needs
  • Ease of setup for dealership specific workflows and processes
  • Reporting that supports and promotes coaching opportunities with employees
  • Reporting that supports enterprise or multi-store locations – BDC (if required)

The Platform:

  • Support of todays modern devices and technologies
    • Smartphone and tablet compatible
    • Internet/Cloud based
    • Support for all modern communication channels – e-mail, phone, social and text.     
      • Mail list output
      • Customer opt-out management
  • Simplicity is the key
    • User interface needs to be familiar and simple to follow for the user.
      • Relearning simple tasks hampers employee buy-in
  • Employee engagement drives the success of the installation, ensures the platform promotes this and demonstrates clear wins to employees

Data Security/Integration: (key items in bold)

  • CRM must work in concert with all dealership systems
    • Data integration between departments is critical
      • If employees are forced to look outside the CRM for critical data the solution breaks down
    • CRM is the center of the dealerships owner communication and retention strategy.
      • No Siloes
    • Actionable reporting and dealership process improvement require shared data
  • Documented and certified integration plan (DMS)
  • Data redundancy and sufficient backup in place to house your data
  • Data security policies

Installation and Support:

  • Support is the key for long term success of the product
    • Top criteria in product selection
  • Installation process and timelines
    • What will it take to setup the system?
    • Hardware and connection requirement
    • Training format
      • On-site
      • Classroom
      • Web-based
  • Ongoing training and support
    • Included or additional cost
    • Frequency

Marketing Capabilities:

  • Capabilities above and beyond basic email
  • Integration with additional services provided by vendor
  • Lifetime value marketing model


  • Modularization of the product
    • Plug and play ability to add products as needed
  • Breadth of the vendors offerings in additional areas
    • Vehicle Equity
    • Websites
    • Desking
    • Etc.
      • Dealership business model and long-term goals will drive applicability


  • Are there any?
    • Month-to-month
    • Long term
    • Flexibility to upgrade
    • Trail period for product
  • Additional support fees to consider?
  • Cancelation
    • Timing
    • Who owns the hosted customer data and reporting?

CRM in the future:

  • Insights from vendors into the direction the category will head next


Product Review:

CRM Product Review Outline – 7/6/15

The Bottom Line:

  • Overview of the Product Review
    • Standard Feature Set (high-level)
      • Departments Supported
      • Reporting
      • Process / Workflow
    • Data Integration
    • User Interface/Ease of use
    • Installation and Support
  • Average Price Range
  • Mission – Product sweet spot – Typical dealer installs
  • Driving Sales User Rating Composite

Installation / Support:

  • Typical Install timeframe
  • Training Included
    • On-site
    • Remote
  • Ongoing Support

A Day in the life of the Dealership (see writers terminology sheet for detailed functionality list):

  • Vendor Walkthrough of ideal use of the tool on a daily basis (standard functionality with call outs where additional offerings may be integrated) to manage customers through the purchase funnel.
    • Typical Sales Day
      • Morning – Set the day
      • Afternoon – Daily recap and additional tasks
      • Evening – Getting ready for tomorrow
      • Typical deal
    • Typical Service Day
      • Morning
      • Afternoon
      • Evening
    • Management Integration
      • Reporting
      • Tracking

Providers Top 5:

  • 5 Unique aspects that set them apart from the completion
    • End User impact/Improve the User Experience

The Platform:

  • Technology high-level (cloud v. on-site)
  • Device Support
    • Smartphone
    • Tablet
    • Etc.
  • Integration Capabilities
    • DMS – Certification
    • Third Party applications
      • Lead services
      • Websites
      • Inventory Management
  • Data Security

Marketing Capabilities:

  • Standard features
  • Optional Communications, Channels or data integration points
    • Third party Consumer modeling (demographic)
    • Data mining
    • Etc.

BDC Integration:

Additional Vendor Offerings:

  • Offerings with direct integration to the CRM platform
    • Desking
    • Inventory Management
    • Lead Services
    • Etc.


  • Term
  • Upgrade opportunities
  • Cancelation Terms

Company Profile:

  • Public/Private
  • Number of Customers
    • Auto Specific
    • Total
  • Number of employees
  • Years in Operation

Dealer Quotes:

  • Dealer quotes sprinkled throughout article where appropriate (Quote specific to content area).

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