I've actively commented on two other great, current blog posts here on ADM.FM - one by Bryan Armstrong and one from Todd Smith. This post is a marrying of the two topics - Vendor Relationships and Social Media Best Practices. Toward the end of this post, you will learn of a specific social media & CRM enhancement that a vendor (Vin Solutions) put into their CRM based on my suggestion - that ties into its own best practice - and something you should get your CRMs to implement as well. Let me preface that this is not a "Pimp Fest" but an experience I recently had that I valued and hopefully gives you a hint onto what you should do/look for in your lead management.
When on the retail side, I trained my BDC team to deconstruct every inbound lead that they received. (This is a practice that is not done near enough in most dealerships I've found). I believe in maximizing every lead. You must drill down and read into the lead, picking apart the information they've provided and then, by being proactive, search for information about them that will help you build rapport.
Every lead that came into my CRM would be deconstructed. My team would Google search the name of the prospect and search for them on the social networking sites. Now let me preface, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO REQUEST A CONNECTION/FRIENDSHIP. You've done nothing to earn their friendship. This is solely meant to spy (so to speak) and glean as much information about them as possible so you can, in turn, attempt to carefully build a little rapport (without divulging that you had researched them).
This, I believe, is just one best practice that social networking has provided us. This piggybacks off of what Todd Smith of ActivEngage said that dealers are attempting to connect with potential customers much too soon. However, if you implement this practice I taught/teach, it allows you to use these sites as a resource for you to help mold and shape your customer correspondence.
Now let me tie in Bryan Armstrong's blog about the importance of vendor relations and how having the right, proactive vendor is important.
While on the retail side, I used a very detailed, comprehensive, expensive CRM - that I loved. However, over the course of a year, I submitted 47 tickets for enhancements/improvements. Not for support, but enhancements to be made. Being a hands-on Internet Director that was a self-proclaimed expert in my field, I felt that I was playing the role of the CRM vendor's eyes on the street. I gave them the much needed, in-the-trenches, experience to help them improve their system for other dealers. Invaluable information. Now ask me how many of the 47 were implemented... NONE. Not one. In a year.
Now I am on the training/consulting side and I get to experiment/play with/manipulate many CRMs and websites. I had a three store group with Vin Solutions and became a fan of their product (much like Bryan Armstrong was touting.) As I said before, I do not want this post to be considered a "Pimp Fest", but I want to tell you of an experience I had that I valued.
One my own dime, I went down to Overland Park Kansas (from Chicago) to be trained on the Vin Solutions software at their headquarters. I figured, it was worth the money for the trip because I would know how to manipulate the system for my dealer clients - showing them a better return from their CRM solutions.
While training - and if you know me, you know how very outspoken and confident I am - I told them there were 5 things their CRM needed to do, but didn't. (I expected this to me similar to my last experience where I provided a recipe for an enhancement and it was overlooked.) Vin invited me to their Dealer Advisory board meeting in Orlando before NADA and I attended. As I walked in, Matt Watson, their CTO and code-writing genius, walked up to me and said, "We're going to show you a bunch of enhancements we are rolling out on our software...oh, and the five things you suggested, they are in there and up and running." In just a month and a half, Vin Solutions input ALL FIVE of my requests!
There is one specifically I want to hail. One, that I will tout as my own, is an automatic link on every single customer lead's profile that links the ISM to that customer's social networking profiles (if they have one) to help deconstruct the lead. It doesn't take you off the page, but helps you dramatically increase what you know (and can learn) about your e-lead prospects. This is a massive time-saver and a best practice that should not be overlooked. If you don't have Vin Solutions and have no interest in switching providers, I urge you to contact your current CRM provider and have them create this enhancement for you (in a month and a half). You will see your appointment-to-show and closing ratios rise dramatically.
Since it has been put in, and before Bryan Armstrong left his last post, he told me how that feature - on its first day available to his team - was used to sell an extra car that day. How fulfilling is that for little old me? That is called VALIDATION and FRUITION my friends. I only hope you can experience the same journey with your ideas and vendors married together.
And if you have experienced this, please share your story here as well.