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Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

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Three vendors, multiple pitches, agonizing internal conversations, budget decisions, integration, contract, training and the big fat check (every month). Now: simply turn it on and have it send messages for you and you win! Right? Wrong! How in the world are we continually convinced that a solution 'in the box' is the right one for our multi-million dollar businesses?  Are most dealers now buying software and technology the same way that we've bought DMS for the past 20 years?  We have Dell build our own laptops down the finest detail, change the covers on our cell phones so they're more 'us', put 20's on our otherwise stock cars, and wear clothes that says 'me'. But we send out messages to everyone that's the same and expect them to respond, let alone come in, buy and refer? What a joke! Here's a clue: if it takes more work and you don't see the results immediately, you're probably heading in the right direction. Why would you send a message (email, text, direct mail, etc) to someone that has a F-150 XLT from your store an offer for a $29 oil change that has small print disclaiming the offer is for 4-cylinder cars? How about sending someone that just leased a new Lexus IS250 from your dealership three months ago an offer that's $40 less per month or that has $1,000 less drive off for the same payment? If you want to use CRM, treat it like a CRM tool by segmenting your customers in your database, updating regularly, creating different campaigns (start with something difficult, let's say like whether they're male or female) and start with unique messages and offers. It might even work! Do you use your CRM, an eNewsletter and a company that markets specifically for declined service follow ups (if not more vendors)? Since you've created your own mess, at least hold each vendor responsible to running consistent (non-concurrent) uniquely-branded content that offers readers something that they won't likely want to ignore. What's meant by ignore? If you statistics show supposedly great open and click rates and you don't see a relative increase in traffic, people are likely ignoring your messages. Have you started using social media as a CRM avenue? Think about it this way: do you believe that you have more customers opening your newsletter (with the same content as everyone else in your PMA) or using Facebook regularly? Don't answer out loud, but why don't you put your current, and archived, newsletters with a link on your Facebook Fan Page and every time you update, all of your followers get it in their feed and emai? Instead of spending $10,000 a month on direct mail with a 2-6% open rate, send them via Twitter, Facebook and Plaxo for practically $0 and schedule the offers to be sent on specific dates, specific hours and with exact details. Considering that likely under 5% of direct mail is actually integrated into all marketing, your social media CRM efforts will pay huge dividends with less effort. Remember not to forget the most important part, the message. If you believe that Customer Relationship Management is still about advertising, be prepared to have your (rear end) handed to you by more dynamic, engaged dealerships that have embraced the digital CRM revolution in addition to their CRM software. If the emails you send out to leads don't even have a link to your favorite reputation management site, links to your social media profiles and at least a 'why to buy' item like an intro video or photos of the car they will likely buy, you need to stop and really think over your CRM plan. Treat Customer Relationship Management as its name implies rather than the 'other' CRM: customer-regardless mumble-jumble. Oh, and one more point: never stop asking questions. It's what you do when you stop talking and start listening. Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results Check out more IM@CS posts here on DrivingSales.com or on our blog

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