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Laura Wood

Laura Wood Public Relations Coordinator

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Fighting to Sell

Automotive CRM is not a new concept. In fact, before the ‘90s when statistically more people came to dealerships with the goal of buying a car more than any other time in our recent history, salespeople couldn’t afford to wait on ups.  They resorted to logging their past customers, following up with them for service or trade-ins, or even calling to wish them a happy birthday or anniversary. If these efforts were unsuccessful, a salesperson could always try cold calling. Remember those things called phone books?  Regardless of the methodology, the spirit behind CRM remains building and maintaining relationships.

Today, with the assistance of technology, cold calling has really turned into warm calling. However, there’s still nothing like a friendly phone call to a former customer to keep up general rapport or even to prospect the household. While it is technically possible to manually log all of the customers, connections, and clients into a secret notebook, this is no longer necessary or recommended. By using a CRM software, it just takes consistent upkeep and monitoring for any salesperson to maintain a dynamite customer database. Automotive CRM software is more than just a database, however. It is a very versatile tool for planning and management.

The fact is, the best sales results are achieved with hard work paired with a robust CRM tool. The CRM is not designed to do all the work for the dealer, only most of it. The last crucial step comes with a dealer’s initiative to make a sale and continue the relationships that perpetuate his or her livelihood. The days of the “magic ups” are long gone, so proactivity is key in being a successful car salesperson. Automotive CRM programs are capable of sending out automatic, mass e-mails to customers for things like discounts and service reminders, but it can’t pick up a phone or mail a letter for you. It’s not always about how well a dealer can sell; it’s about creating one’s own opportunities.

Be creative and personalize your CRM strategy. Using the resources available through her own CRM, Tammie LeBleu became the number two Nissan salesperson in the nation. Of course she did the follow-ups, scheduled appointments, and kept track of personal birthdays and anniversaries for her clients, but she likes to go the extra mile. LeBleu will send out personalized cards, even including recipes and photos, because she knows the importance of giving back to her client base. It doesn’t make much sense to spend thousands on advertising at the dealership without spending anything on postage to make a personal connection with those who have already chosen to do business with that dealer.

Not only is relationship management nourishing to a business, it is also the catalyst for unprompted repeat business and even referrals. When a connection is made with a person, it extends to their friends and family to ultimately improve the dealer’s reputation. When you fight to sell instead of standing by at the whim of chance, your business is set into motion and clients start seeking you out.

Michael Bilson
Laura: Very good post and could not agree more. Using the CRM tool correctly is sometimes a challenge for many dealerships. Too often notes are not logged or correct and complete contact information is not inputted.
Laura Wood
Exactly. You can buy the best CRM software in the business, but you only reap what you sow. No effort, no results.
Michael Bilson
Laura the true "irony" of many dealers is that they spend a vast amount of money on marketing dollars to make the phone ring, to get the web visits and purchase leads, yet suddenly get "cheap" when it comes to ensuring processes are followed and tools are used correctly. Too often demands for "instant results" leads to people finding shortcuts and going with the short game. Sales people won't work or follow up with leads that will not close this week (or maybe next, but that's it). Most dealers attempt to have 1 person be an "Internet" manager and a "BDC" manager as well as being involved in selling and ad purchasing. This almost always leads to burn-out, high turnover, lack of accountability and a owner who is frustrated knowing his store could do better, since he is spending the same marketing dollars as his competitor, yet is getting beat by them. The truth is always in the process and in using the tools provided correctly. Most BDC or CRM tools will not show instant ROI...but they will show it's value much sooner if used correctly from the beginning.

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