Thus far in this series about building a more effective CRM department in your store, I have outlined how to construct a solid CRM foundation that must be present and working smoothly to ensure that the forthcoming processes will be successful. These processes are: (1) inter-relationship development; (2) planning for cultural and process change; (3) disciplined decision making; and (4) leadership.

Impact GroupOnce the concrete dries on the aforementioned and is firmly a part of your foundation, it is time to announce to store employees that CRM is coming their way. In addition, this explanation must also describe for them what CRM will do for them and what benefits it will generate for them and the store.

Given how important it is to establish such a solid CRM foundation and then to communicate to staff what it will help them achieve, why then do we spend so little time, if any at all, describing to employees, individually and summarily, how the store will benefit from an active CRM implementation?

Sell Your CRM Initiative

So why don’t we sell our CRM initiative? After all, a CRM department will bring a multitude of benefits to the store, but for those benefits to happen the CRM function must be supported by the right processes and practices. A CRM function will impact transactions, staff, management, your customers, and your relationship with them.

Begin selling CRM to your sales department first. You must gain its buy-in. Sales consultants will be most wary of CRM, especially those whose view of CRM will be “I’ve been selling for 10 years my way.” A masterful sales presentation to this group is imperative and it will be your toughest stage performance. Yet, surprisingly enough, once this group has bought in your sales consultants will be CRM’s best cheerleaders.

Impact GroupTo best reach this group, let money do the talking. Here’s an effective talk track: Each sales consultant is essentially an independent consultant, with no individual more interested in his or her income than the consultant and his or her spouse. Each sales consultant is also the CEO of his or her own personal corporation, and whether the consultant is aware of it or not, is also his or her own CFO, VP of sales and marketing and more mundane titles and responsibilities.

Having thus expanded the group’s vision and broadened (as well as personalized) its sense of corporate responsibility, the group will now be more receptive to the CRM message you will deliver. I then like to ask this group, “If we were to hire for each of you your very own personal vice president of sales and marketing to handle most of the encumbering paper and organizational sales-related efforts required to run your personal corporation daily, would you be interested in hearing about it?”

Then continue, “Of course, this new officer will report to you and would be directly responsible for increasing your income through obtaining more unit sales at greater gross profit margins and assisting and showing you how to increase the opportunities to resell your owner base both directly and indirectly through referrals.” Finally, close with, “OK, who wants one of these VPs?” And don’t be surprised by the following replies, “I do! Where do I sign! “Count me in!”

Congratulations; if you’ve gotten to this junction in your CRM selling process you’ve planted an important seed – open mindedness to perform the new processes, which are going to be different than the business as usual around your store. Note: The forthcoming beneficial highlights of CRM will only be as good as the paper you receive from your sales professionals. Accuracy and completeness are paramount for successful CRM. Good paper provides for good process! I’ll cover these paper detail requirements later, but for right now we’ll concentrate on the buy-in.

Benefits To Be Gained

Let’s explore a few of the tangible and intangible benefits that sales professionals in your organization can expect to receive in operating their corporations utilizing a well seeded CRM implementation. (I use “can” and not “will” here because we have to secure the processes first.)

Remind your sales staff that CRM software – their own VP of sales and marketing — will provide each of them with a personalized daily work plan that will show them an organized (yes, organized) approach to running their business. It will essentially plan their daily work effort by providing them, in writing, with the following valuable information:

  • Every contact: Includes every floor-up customer who visited them, with such key data as name, address, telephone numbers, vehicle interests, trade information, target budgets, next contact date, future appointment made, assorted notes detailing the customer’s family members and special dates.
  • Every phone inquiry: Includes such information as interest, equipment preferences, time frame for purchase, customer name, phone number, specific date and time of appointment to visit the store, and next contact date if appointment was not made.
  • Every follow-up: Reminders to make floor- and follow-up calls, including prospects that visited the store and did not purchase on the first or second visit. The target is to get them back in on an appointment.
  • Every retention call: Includes data to ensure that every customer is contacted for continued customer retention and referral obtainment. This is a very important call and needs to go beyond the standard “How is your new vehicle doing?” Your owner base should be contacted on a three, 30, 60, 90 and 120-day schedule, and then at least quarterly.
  • Every appointment: A list of customer appointments detailing specific dates and times along with customer information acquired from one or more of the above areas.
  • No-show list: A list of every customer no-show.
  • Orphan owners and orphan un-solds: As attrition occurs you will have owners without assigned sales consultants. CRM can assign them to consultants. The same applies to orphan unsold prospects. Such un-solds can be good sources of business, and CRM can help your staff build them in a customer base quickly.
  • Letters and notes: Includes lists of letters due to owners, including floor ups, phone ups and other follow-up correspondence, including orphan owners and orphan unsold letters, anniversary letters, and special occasion letters, all printed individually for your sales team. All they have to do is sign, fold and stuff.

I’ve listed only a few of the benefits your sales team should enjoy when CRM is implemented in your dealership. Sell these multiple opportunities to your team – opportunities that will help them increased their business through organized CRM – and you’ll get its critical buy-in. Next issue, more on building your CRM processes, step by step.


Chuck Barker

Chuck Barker has been CEO of his two companies, Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC, for the last 24 years, both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with Harris Corporation (16,000 employees) one of Fortune Magazine’s largest companies to the automobile industry where he has performed all executive positions. His companies specialize in growing businesses, dealerships and people. He delivers unparalleled sales & service development programs, management leadership workshop programs and dealer/principal business & profit improvement ideas for automobile dealerships. He has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled The Dealership Success Guide.