Originally published in AutoSuccess Magazine Oct. 2009
Over the past few years CRM usage in dealerships has greatly increased and is still a big priority for most dealerships. As internet leads became more and more important, it has become increasingly more important to have CRM solutions that were designed to efficiently handle internet leads. The problem a lot of dealers have is their CRM doesn’t do a very good job of handling internet leads. To remedy this problem, dealers purchase an Internet Lead Management (ILM) solution which is more or less a 2nd CRM solution designed only for internet leads. ILM software, unlike traditional CRM software, is typically web based since it is designed to handle internet leads.
Internet Lead Management (ILM) solutions are great for your internet department and have special functionality that makes it easy to handle internet leads. Some of these special functions include:
• Distributing and routing leads to your internet sales staff
• Sending text messages to alert your staff about the new leads
• Allowing responding to leads on mobile devices to improve response times
• Send automated emails to customers to confirm their leads were received
• Emailing vehicle details, brochures, photos, and videos to customers
• Manage follow up processes by specific internet lead sources
ILM software solutions can help take care of deficiencies in your CRM software. The problem is your dealership is no longer working together as one team. It is important to have your showroom and internet department working together on the same CRM system.
Here are some of the downfalls of having a separate CRM and ILM in your dealership:
• ILM only solutions don’t show you the full sales and service history the customer has had with your dealership.
• Separate ILM and CRM solutions create “skating” problems between the showroom and internet department.
• When an internet customer comes in, you have to additionally log them in to your CRM to desk the deal and do unsold follow up.
• Does your internet department do sold and unsold follow up in the CRM, ILM or both?
• The ILM has powerful email functions that are not available to your showroom salespeople. Don’t all your salespeople need to email their customers?
• Reporting to see what is going on in your dealership becomes more difficult
Automotive CRM solutions
have evolved over the last few years to better handle internet leads. All good CRM solutions are now web based to better handle these internet functions. It is no longer necessary to have a separate ILM solution. If you have to purchase a separate ILM, then you are really paying more money to make up for problems with your current CRM. You would be much better off purchasing a new CRM that was designed to handle internet leads as well as handle all your CRM needs.
If you are stuck in a CRM contract and desperately need a separate ILM to properly run your internet department, then I would definitely recommend doing so. When you pick a new ILM system, pick one that also has full CRM capabilities. Doing so let’s you try out the new vendor and will make the CRM switch a lot smoother when your current CRM contract is up.
If you are considering purchasing a new CRM solution, here are some of the advantages to web based CRM systems. These are some of the advantages to web based CRMs:
• No expensive servers to purchase or manage in your dealership
• Less likely to have contracts, typically a pay-as-you-go model
• CRM is available securely from anywhere via a web browser with no software to install
• Software is enhanced more often since the vendor can update it in one place
• Ideal solution for dealer groups who need reporting and BDC functions across stores
• Enhanced email features to allow easily sending vehicle details, brochures, photos, and videos
• Mobile access from your Blackberry, iPhone or other smart phones
As if having a separate ILM and CRM wasn’t bad enough, some dealers even have a 3rd CRM or BDC solution to handle the follow up of their service department. There are now good CRM solutions available that can handle your showroom, internet and service department together. Tying it all together lets you see a customer’s complete history and value to your dealership from one place.
It is important to have one CRM solution to keep track of all aspects of your customers and keep everyone in your dealership connected. Having one CRM with all the data in one database also allows you to do some amazing reporting and marketing campaigns.