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Phil  Spagnoli

Phil Spagnoli Regional Sales Director

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How and Why to Supercharge CRM Use

Norm walks into Cheers and what do we hear? A resounding “NORM!” I think it’s true that “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”


I bet your customers want the same recognition. After all, we’re in the people business. And what do most people want? Recognition. The feeling that someone knows them, cares about their wants and needs, and works to fulfill those needs.

In today’s fast-paced world where we’re bombarded with information 24/7, the best way to remember your customers and give them a Cheers-like, personal experience is by using a CRM.


A CRM allows you to keep all customer information in one central spot. It’s one login to access a customer’s past purchases and service history, and also a place to take detailed notes. Say a customer loves boating and you talked about it last time they were in. The next time they call, or you see them around town, you can ask if they’ve been out boating recently.


It’s the little things that build rapport, and add up to trust. And people buy things from people they trust. The CRM enables you to remember all the little details that over time make you a customer’s trusted advisor and “go-to” car person.


A CRM isn’t just for franchised dealers. It’s just as important if you’re out on your own. I have a lot of friends who’ve gone from selling cars to opening lots and the start-up costs are significant. You have to buy vehicles, rent space, pay taxes, and more. It’s no wonder most people start out really lean when it comes to technology.


But to get repeat business you have to stay in front of people. You need a way to communicate about new inventory or financing specials. A CRM is the best way to do that.


Sticky notes, multiple software platforms, or digging through files, is not the way to go. All these manual processes take a lot of time and are prone to errors or losing information. With a robust CRM, you can streamline communications, set-up tasks, and keep detailed customer notes. Many CRM platforms also allow basic email so you can work within one platform and have a complete record of customer interactions.


Of course, simply having a CRM won’t get you detailed customer records. Your employees have to use it. That’s why we say a CRM is only as good as the processes behind it. The struggle to get employees on-board is real. But it’s not insurmountable. 


A mobile-friendly CRM is one of the best ways to encourage use. Everyone is on their mobile phones all the time already. Allow them to access the CRM and enter details right from their phone and you’ll get more detailed records. Driver’s license scanners are also a great tool to save time – and employees like them because they don’t have to physically enter details.


A mandatory daily check-in is a good strategy to hold your Sales team accountable. During the meeting, review opportunities from the previous day and spot check your staff against task lists. If tasks routinely go undone, create a plan of action that includes daily one-on-ones, mentoring, and coaching.


CRM reports can show you where your team is succeeding and where it’s falling behind. The user activity completion report is especially valuable to track who is ticking items off the to-do list, and who needs help to stay on track. The activity performance report breaks out showroom, internet, and phone ups by salesperson, for at-a-glance insight into what activities are resulting in appointments and sales.


Be careful rewarding CRM use with bonuses. A bonus for completing all tasks (whether awarded weekly or monthly) may sound tempting, but shouldn’t proper CRM use be a requirement of the job? Instead, mandate its use and deal with outliers through mentoring and coaching. If it’s a required part of the job, your team will adopt the practice. And it will pay off. Proper use of the CRM is like the sales process. If you follow the process, you’ll make money. If you skip steps, you’ll lose gross.



CRM technology allows independent and franchised dealers alike to deliver a Cheers-like customer experience that builds rapport and trust – if employees use it. Mandate proper processes and lean on CRM reports to hold employees accountable, and you’ll give your team a leg-up on cultivating personal relationships that pay-off year after year.



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