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Dealers use a variety of software applications as part of their sales process. Using too many software applications requires a lot of duplicate data entry and jumping through different tools. This can create errors and slow down the process.

Here is a scenario of how customer information flows through a typical deal:

  • Customers submits a lead on the internet
  • Lead transfers to Internet lead management tool which is used to set an appointment
  • Customer comes to showroom and is entered manually in the CRM
  • Customer is manually entered in to software for trade appraisal
  • Customer is also manually entered in to desking software to create a proposal
  • Customer is manually entered in to credit app and submitted to banks
  • Sales documents must be printed via software or filled out by hand
  • Customer is manually entered in DMS to do finance contract

There can be a lot of inefficiencies in this process. Dealers need to leverage technology that combines or integrates as many of these steps as possible to streamline the sales process.

Suggestions for improving the process:

  1. Never use more than one CRM system. For example, do not use a separate system for internet and showroom leads.
  2. Make sure all leads from all internet and phone lead sources get put in to your CRM electronically so they aren't manually entered
  3. Use a trade appraisal tool that is integrated with your CRM. Some CRMs have these functions built in or integrate with vAuto, AAX, Firstlook,etc.
  4. Use the desking module built in to your CRM since it is preloaded with all the customer and lead information
  5. Transfer from your CRM or desking system directly to DealerTrack or Route One, and/or pull credit reports via your CRM
  6. Use your CRM or desking tool to print sales documents like buyers orders, we owes, etc.
  7. Transfer the deal electronically from your desking tool directly to your DMS so F&I can finalize the deal

Automotive CRM applications can provide the functionality to complete most of these steps. Review your current processes and check with your CRM provider to see if there are ways to streamline your process.

Matt Watson
Chief Technology Officer

Views: 112


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Comment by Catherine Edwards on August 26, 2010 at 9:49am
Hi Ed,
ResponseLogix gets pricing and vehicle information through our partnership with HomeNet. HomeNet obtains the information for us by using whatever mechanism the dealer is using to advertise the pre-owned vehicle on the internet including vAuto, Dealer Specialties and HomeNet.

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 25, 2010 at 12:10pm
Hi Catherine, I like including used car quotes along with the 3 new quotes. Do the pre-owned prices come from the DMS as well? The reason for my question is many, if not most, of the dealers I talk to do not update the current asking price for pre-owned cars in their DMS system.

For many dealers a company like Homenet, AVV, Dealer Specialties, AutoUpLink, or vAuto will be the place that syndicates current up-to-date asking prices to the rest of the internet.

Comment by Ken Hodgson on August 25, 2010 at 11:53am
I had the same complaints with Responslogix, Mike. They very happily removed the e-mail and phone number masking though so I now get the real customer e-mail and phone number. They lose their reporting functionality by doing this but it makes our lives easier as well as keeps the database accurate.

One of my other complaints was the inventory. The system was set to quote regionally. All fine and good until it quotes a car you know you can't get. They were also able to change the inventory to reflect only my own inventory.

Comment by Mike Warwick on August 25, 2010 at 7:18am
Responselogix may evolve into an effective piece of the puzzle but I don't think it's there yet (and yes, I have used the system). Too many integration issues and added process steps. Hiding the customer email, punching in extra codes when calling the customer. I can see how it helps dealers with little or no process in place but if your dealership is following a strong process, it becomes more of a hinderance. I can see it working well for stores without a BDC where the salespeople are responsible for Internet leads and follow up. Just my opinion.

Comment by Catherine Edwards on August 24, 2010 at 2:14pm
Great questions about how ResponseLogix works with the CRM system. The following is an exerpt from a product review in this month's Auto Dealer Monthly that answers the questions posed. To read the full product review go to

"Once set up, leads are sent to ResponseLogix and forwarded into the dealer’s CRM system.
SmartQuote pulls new and used vehicle pricing information, looks at vehicles available in a dealer’s inventory and what is available in their region, and responds to a customer’s price quote inquiry, all without the dealership personnel involved. A link in the lead presents
the SmartQuote that was sent to the prospect so dealership personnel may see what was quoted and make the appropriate followup in a timely manner.

Why use SmartQuote instead of a CRM template auto-responder?
For starters, a SmartQuote sent in response to a new vehicle inquiry includes the requested vehicle conservatively equipped, comfortably equipped and generously equipped, so the customer is given choices. Also, since research shows that many individuals shopping for a new vehicle often purchase a pre-owned unit, the quote includes three pre-owned vehicles from the dealer’s inventory, all with pricing."

Comment by Joe Webb on August 23, 2010 at 9:22pm
I think ResponseLogix is a great tool to help dealers with their long-term follow up with customers. However, I personally believe that a 1st personal response from a dealer should be just that. Personal. I can see the benefit of sending a multi-option price quote - as it is a best practice - but the beauty of a good CRM is that it can do it all for you provided you put in the time and effort to configure all of the triggers and emails the right way.

A great CRM gives you the ability to do it yourself. If you want to send a multi-option price quote, demand it of your internet team - and allow no exceptions. It is only then your team will have the capabilities of making it personal to the customer. ResponseLogix works well for the dealers not capable or inventive enough to create the long-term follow up process on their own. (just my opinion. I've always fancied myself a bit of a wordsmith so I take pride in the personalization of templates. At the same time, I know of several dealers doing well on ResponseLogix).

Matt, I think your post hits a lot of good points, but is also somewhat of a "best case scenario". How many CRM's can incorporate all of the best practices you mentioned into one solution? Without the right tool, it is all just a pipe dream. (Yes, you probably are smiling and calling yourself a dreammaker right now, aren't you?)

My only combative statement I could make is that I know several BDC's and Internet departments that like operating off of an ILM (that is all their own) rather than the collective CRM - and cross-check solds/appts in their ILM every day - as it is the only way to ensure their own accounts aren't being altered.

Comment by Matt Watson on August 23, 2010 at 6:11pm
I'm not sure how I understand how ResponseLogix integrates with CRMs.

Why do our dealers now get leads and the email address of their customers are now something like ??? So now the dealers don't even know the email addresses of their customers?

It also delays how long it takes the lead to get to the dealer's CRM since it has to go through ResponseLogix first. So it slows down the dealer's response times and how fast they can call the customer.

Comment by Catherine Edwards on August 23, 2010 at 3:17pm
Thank you for posting the CRMs that you work with Ed.
ResponseLogix works closely with the following list of CRMs:
Aeros 2.0
Car Research/Car Interactive Sales Center
Cobalt's LMCC
Dad's Virtual CRM
Dealer Peak
Dealer Socket
Dealer Ups
e-Lead CRM
Higher Gear
iMagicLabs iCarMagic
Izmo CRM
Momentum 2.0
Outlook Mailbox
PBS Systems
RDS Technologies
Reynolds Contact Manager

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 21, 2010 at 9:46am
Excellent post Matt.

vAutos list of integrated CRMs is always growing, but here's an up-to-date look:

Dealer Socket
Higher Gear
AutoBase (not the same as AutoBase Price Publisher)
Dealer Resource
Sales Edge
Vin Solutions

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