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Jim Bell

Jim Bell National Sales Executive

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The Backbone to the Dealership - Are You Using it?

We all have great tools to use in the automotive business, but the question is do we use them to their fullest potential?  The products that we use on a daily basis is only as good as we use them.  The one that I know that I am in about 24/7 is the CRM.  Yes, there are a lot of them to choose from in the marketplace, but bottom line comes down to the user and actually using it.  I thought of this while I was watching Joe Webb's new video on a Long Day at the Car Dealership (see below). When I saw Arnold clicking left message and lost, and dead, I wonder to myself how many times this happens in the dealership?

I want to specifically hit on the "left message", "lost sale", and "dead deal".  I have no idea what percentage of customers that leave the dealership without buying don't get any follow up at all.  I am going to venture to say that it is a very high percentage.  I know that we are all guilty of it and getting in a funk and 'fake' our calls out.  I know that even though I have been successful in the business, I will look in the mirror and admit that I have 'faked' a CRM call out.  Do I do it on a regular basis?  No.  But I have done it.  So how do we get out of 'faking' the call in the CRM?  Those that have been in the business for a while know how to do it, but how do we get past it?

  • The "left message" status.  Find a reason to call them.
    • First off, call to thank them for coming in.  In the latest reports, a customer will visit 1.3 dealerships before making a purchasing decision.  If there were in front of you, chances are, they are not just there to kick tires like back in the 70s-early 90s.  Make yourself stand out from that other dealership that they may just visit along with yours.
    • If they were on a new vehicle, call them on a late model trade that you may have just traded for.  It may just perk their interest enough to come back in again and you will have another chance at selling them a vehicle.
    • If there is a trade involved, try to get them back in by offering to sell their car to another customer.  Get them in, then in your vehicle again, and then work the used car manager or even the customer before them.
  •   Marking customers 'lost sale.'
    • Let's face it, it happens.  We can't get them all.  But one thing we can do is offer service to them.  Chances are, the salesperson that they bought from, especially used, didn't properly introduce them to their service department.  Offer them a free oil change just to get them back in the door again.  This may or may not help, but you are getting them back in the door again and maybe they will remember that down the road.
    • Ask for referrals or when other family members may be in the market for a new vehicle.  Make good notes in the CRM and make calls to them just like you sold them the car.
  • The "dead deal" status.
    • I personally don't believe in the dead deal status unless they are actually dead, as in not breathing or 6 feet under.  When you mark a deal a 'dead deal' in the CRM, that will discontinue any contact to the customer via email marketing campaigns.  Keep your name in front of them down the road.  You just never know when they will be in the market for a new vehicle.  If you don't mark them 'dead deal,' hopefully your name will be in front of them 12 times a year or so.

The CRM should be your backbone to the dealership.  If you run out of customers to call that are scheduled, you can always lean on your CRM and dig in and make something happen.  

Chris Costner
Great read Jim. I find it hard to cross any of them "off the list." Too many times have I called behind and get a completely different story or outcome. I enjoy taking the "blind" approach as much as possible when others say there isn't anything there. I agree too that the "next day" showroom call from our departments are key and rarely get done on a national level. Bryan Armstrong used a term, "inspect what you inspect" that I agree with when coming across these change in statuses. It's all about opportunity and you have brought to light some great ways for everyone to take the blinders off. Well done.
DealerFire .com
Nice job, Jim--as usual. Not only do you lay out some great points to follow for success, you're not afraid to mention your own experience, too.
Jim Bell
We all have to look in the mirror sometimes and do a little correcting of our actions at times. This was one that I have done in the past and shows that we all can be guilty of something, even when we write about it. I don't do it now knowing that an internet lead is just like a person in the showroom. It can get frustrating, but there is no reason to fake calls out.
Jim Bell
Thanks for the comment Chris. I have to agree with you that I think a lot of people will not make that day after call just due to laziness. Also, I think you meant "inspect what you expect" Chris. :)
Keith Shetterly
Jim: Great article! And so true.

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