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CRM - Is It failing Us or Are We failing It?

Phone process is arguably the most common  customer contact. It drives our Market Share and our Customer Retention. But would you agree that most automotive dealerships fail to come even close to the chosen CRM’s potential to increase our profitability?

Main CRM killers

What could be the cause(s) of less than 20% "Activated" sales calls into your CRM tool? What percentage of new leads registered in your CRM do you sell? How does that affect your fixed operations? What is the best source of leads for potential marketing campaigns? Why do we as an industry continue to allow our profitability to be impacted by what would seem to be an easy fix? --Because it is NOT easy!

Programmed to Fail

There are only 2 reasons for this critical failure:

  • Problem #1- They just won’t do it

Ensuring that all your sales representatives adhere to your CRM guidelines has been like ‘pushing a rope.’ Dealers have allowed their Sales Teams to fail at follow up since the “Tickle File” box of index cards. We revere the talented souls that make our businesses successful, and have often just accepted that these same folks are simply not going to adhere to our policies...even to the point that many dealers have hired teams of lead managers (BDC) to do it for them!

  • Problem #2 - They Can’t Do It

In a recent study of 2 Million Dealership Calls, it was revealed that 30% of the  722,000 Sales Calls that came into  dealerships never spoke to the Sales Department or Sales Representative they requested. Now add to that that half of those that did were not asked or did not provide their contact information, making it virtually impossible to follow up or activate in the CRM.

Statistics Say It All

We have always fixed what we have measured

What ROI might be available if we fix this leak?

The state of the art in CRM's is phenomenal....well adhered to they are arguably among the most effective money dealers spend.

Most will agree that we sell 10% (plus) of the leads we manage through CRM adherence. An increase from 20 Sales Calls out of 100 to even 80 of 100, activated in the CRM tool will bring at least 6 Sales for each 100 Sales Calls. And the fix is FREE! Now that's an ROI!

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Tags: ADP, Autobase, Best Practices, CRM, Call Handling, CallRevu, CarResearch, Contact Management, DMS, DealerSocket, More…Follow Up, Imagic, Sales Calls, VIN, eLEads


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Comment by Alexander Lau on April 30, 2013 at 5:21am

It's amazing how these informative posts always turn in to an advertisement for services rendered.

Comment by Jerry Thibeau on April 30, 2013 at 4:56am

I'll be talking about this subject next week at Digital Dealer.

CRM Ninja Skills Unleashed

In this session Jerry Thibeau will focus on teaching you how to grow your business by coupling great CRM practices with outbound telephone techniques. You will learn CRM secrets that will help you build a solid base of prospects and more lifetime customers. Thibeau will also focus on the telephone techniques required to properly engage your CRM customers and prospects. This is a must attend session for anyone in sales.

What action items will attendees take back to the dealerships?

- Learn how to make a great living from your CRM!
- Learn CRM phone techniques that will result in more appointments!
- Stop looking for ups and start creating them!

Jerry Thibeau, CEO, Phone Ninjas

Scheduled on:
Wednesday 5/8, from 8:30AM to 9:20AM

Comment by James A. Ziegler on April 30, 2013 at 3:22am

Great blog, I agree completely that dealerships must use the tools provided or they're worthless.

Comment by Josh Minick on April 22, 2013 at 10:05am

Brian is exactly right, the problem stems from a lack of accountability.  Dealership management fails to hold the staff accountable for the processes, often because they lack an understanding of how to effectively motivate people.  Management must remain engaged with the CRM as well as have the knowledge and ability to influence and motivate the sales staff to utilize the tools they have provided.

Comment by Tony Rehn on April 22, 2013 at 9:58am
Interesting mixture of saber metrics and XO's salesmanship and sales management. We will get better each day at both. That is our promise
Comment by Tony Rehn on April 22, 2013 at 9:53am
Appreciate the thoughts, as technology changes its interesting how it comes around to intense and committed management engagement at initial contact ... "On the floor"
Comment by Mark Tewart on April 22, 2013 at 8:30am

I appreciate Tony's honesty. Although the numbers from your dealership reflect obviously good policies, management and leadership, there are still customers who fall through the cracks. At even the best dealerships in the country, management has to continually work on processes to keep the the utilization of the CRM to a maximum and having everyone accounted for. The more checks and balances you have the better you will do. We have seen dealerships utilizing a combination of old and new school of manual logs and CRM processes do extremely well. One of the managers becomes an active participant in the sales process and is engaged on the floor all day. In the future, the job description of a  manager will continue to evolve to create better management engagement and accountability. In too many dealerships there are less than desirable people, not being trained, engaged or held accountable. There are too many dealerships with managers hiding behind a desk. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 22, 2013 at 8:13am

Like any other tool, it end user dependent. Properly trained BDC / Internet Manager(s), process adherence, dealership buy in, etc. IMO, it's clearly a lack of understanding of what means the most within CRM processes, sub-processes, etc. It reminds me of the lack of attention and detail given to Service and Parts, even though it's a big money earner for most dealerships.

Comment by Edward Shaffer on April 22, 2013 at 7:04am


@Tony Rehn - you said "maximizing the CRM seems tough without policing the "wrong" things."


Sounds a lot like you have great processes in place and that there is a clear expectation of the execution of those processes.  If you simply hold your team accountable to the process you have in place, you cannot possibly "police" the wrong things.


That being said, the real question is you have the right processes in place and have they been effectively communicated to everyone on the team?  Are your expectations as the leader clearly defined?  Does everyone at every level know what "success" looks like?


Brian mentioned the concept of management "living" in the CRM - and this is where the rubber meets the road with regard to accountability.  Our best asset as managers is the ability to delegate responsibility; as the General Manger your success hinges on putting the right people in the right positions.  This means trusting someone to set up your CRM sales, service and owner follow up processes...with your guidance and blessing...but not necessarily with your full understanding.


Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that senior management ends up two or three steps removed from the everyday operation and execution of CRM processes.  So the salesperson who is entering the data and working the processes actually knows more about the system than his/her manager. 


What is even more damaging is that because management does not have a full grasp on the CRM processes, they don’t have any idea of what to look for in terms of coaching opportunities.  We have all heard the saying “Inspect what you Expect” many cases when this relates to CRM processes, management has no idea what they “Expect” and therefore cannot “Inspect”.

Comment by Chip King on April 22, 2013 at 6:28am

Wow---well stated Brian... worth a second read:

"We can point fingers at technology, trainers, process, but in the end it is the leadership at the top.   Leaders who live in the CRM see when ups are not logged, emails are not responded to, and effectively see in real-time which people are failing to respect the millions of dollars invested each year in marketing and operations."

"In the end, its the leadership view that the CRM and good processes really will not sell more cars.  It's the biggest lie that has been perpetrated in our industry."

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