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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.

Views: 127

Tags: CRM, armstrong, bryan, enhancements, joe, matt, media, relations, smith, social, More…solutions, todd, vendor, vin, watson, webb, website


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Comment by Lori Berkson on March 4, 2010 at 5:47pm
Awesome Joe!!!! Great Article! VinSolutions is at the top of the automotive game for a reason.Our updates just keep coming from dealers and great consultants like you. You are the true rock star!

Comment by Mo Zahabi on March 4, 2010 at 7:51am
Thanks Joe, you're a rock star.
Comment by Joe Webb on March 4, 2010 at 6:06am
Okay, Ralph... that is the second time in a month or so that you took what I said in layman's terms, applied a pre-determined scientific principle already in place, adapted it to my story, and SAID IT WAY BETTER THAN ME. You totally ROCK, sir. If only I had the inclination, nay, the time to dedicate myself to researching management principles and their relation to our industry - opposed to researching to stay ahead of market/technology trends. THAT is the real rub for us "experts" trying to stay in the forefront of this industry.

So you were deconstructing leads when I was graduating college? And years before I got into the auto industry? ..... how old do those last questions make you feel? :)

In regard to the principles you mentioned, I would LOVE to say that I am self-actualizing (and have thereby reached a higher mental plane than others), but I cannot say that. I am very much ego-centered and am fueled by emotion. I haven't met any great car guys yet that aren't. I think those are two aspects of self-actualization that may harm you in this business if training/learning is in your job description. Training because a confident, passionate, emotional leader that is training is usually more dynamic,appreciated, and revered. I think you have to be "ego-centered" for consistent learning. At least I do. It was only after a year or so in the industry - when I wasn't setting the world on fire - that I sat back and said "I am going to do everything in my power, morning noon and night, to be the best damn internet sales person around." I read everything I could get my hands on, experimented with every tactic and tool I was allowed or could find, and went to every seminar available to me. It was my ego and competitive nature wanting to best others that keeps my desire to learn fresh.

And after our discussion at NADA and your attached description, you are right. What I described about my management style is very much referent and expert styles (in that order).
However, after reading these, isn't it funny that you could explain them to a group of salespeople, put each word on index cards, and attach every manager/owner with their title - and I bet EVERY salesperson will mark the managers the exact same way.

Now I am not stereotyping that every GM is "legitimate", every owner "reward", and every used car manager is "coercive", though that tends to be the model in the store's I've found. What I mean is these are all very different styles and I haven't yet met enough managers on the floor that have adapted more than one. I think I have.

And what I love most about your post, Ralph, is that all of my beliefs, posts, ideas, muses, thoughts, styles, can all be attributed to real world scenarios. It is akin to teaching yourself how to play guitar and being self-taught in a fine skill and to find out years later that people with formal training still have not yet achieved the level where I am at. It definitely brings it home and offers a good amount of VALIDATION AND FRUITION !

In the comedy world, that is what is called a "Call Back" for your information and amusement. I brought it all back from my very first post. Yes, only the best comedians can do it. :)

Thanks, Ralph.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 4, 2010 at 2:47am
Joe - Great minds think alike, and better managers act alike... Tom Vann, the dealer principal of Team Hillsdale Dodge in Hillsdale, MI was (and is) using the process you describe as "Deconstructing Leads" in 1998 when I first visited his store... The process is described in the Wall Street Journal article that year when Tom was interviewed. The process of "deconstructing" (I call it "Lead Analysis") the leads and doing a search on the customer's name and business domain, if it is in the email extension, was also part of the way Tom assigned leads to sales people, and still is... To give you an idea of how long Danny Alkassmi, myself and Doug Waikem have been pulling search queries on customer names when leads come in, we first did it using a search engine called (The mother of all search engines).

I have also seen the vinSolutions team do what you describe, implement new features and feature enhancements quickly... And that is something they shoould rightfully be proud of. However, the process of indexing (searching) for the customer's social media user name, and having fields in the customer profile in the CRM or lead management tool for the customer's social media account URL's has been in non-automotive CRM tools for awhile and my team's BuzzTrack lead developer (Brian Garofolo) built the fields and merge codes last April 2009, but we have been using a third party application for that specific purpose since finding it online in March 2009.

...There is an academic and scientific term for the very important concepts you describe in your post (which is a wonderful example of why so many of us love the auto industry), it is called "Self Actualization" and is closely related in concept to the 5 leading sources of organizational power that we discussed in Orlando. Here's how Professor Maslow describes Self Actualization:

Self-Actualization Definition
Maslow loosely defined self-actualization as "the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc. " Self-actualization is not a static state. It is an ongoing process in which one's capacities are fully, creatively, and joyfully utilized. "I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. The average man is a full human being with dampened and inhibited powers and capacities" .

Most commonly, self-actualizing people see life clearly. They are less emotional and more objective, less likely to allow hopes, fears, or ego defenses to distort their observations. Maslow found that all self-actualizing people are dedicated to a vocation or a cause. Two requirements for growth are commitment to something greater than oneself and success at one's chosen tasks. Major characteristics of self-actualizing people include creativity, spontaneity, courage, and hard work.

Maslow lists the following characteristics of self-actualizers:

1. more efficient perception of reality and more comfortable relations with it
2. acceptance (self, others, nature)
3. spontaneity; simplicity; naturalness
4. problem centering [as opposed to ego-centered]
5. the quality of detachment; the need for privacy
6. autonomy; independence of culture and environment
7. continued freshness of appreciation
8. mystic and peak experiences
9. Gemeinschaftsgefiihl [a feeling of kinship with others], deeper and more profound interpersonal relations
10. the democratic character structure
11. discrimination between means and ends, between good and evil
12. philosophical, unhostile sense of humor
13. self-actualizing creativity
14. resistance to enculturation; the transcendence of any particular culture

Self-actualization Theory

In his final book, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Maslow describes eight ways in which individuals self-actualize, or eight behaviors leading to self- actualization. It is not a neat, clean, logically tight discussion, but it represents the culmination of Maslow's thinking on self-actualization.

1. Concentration
"First, self- actualization means experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption" (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p. 45). Usually, we are relatively unaware of what is going on within or around us. (Most eyewitnesses recount different versions of the same occurrence, for example.) However, we have all had moments of heightened awareness and intense involvement, moments that Maslow would call self-actualizing.

2. Growth Choices
If we think of life as a series of choices, then self actualization is the process of making each decision a choice for growth. We often have to choose between growth and safety, between progressing and regressing. Each choice has its positive and its negative aspects. To choose safety is to remain with the known and the familiar but to risk becoming stultified and state. To choose growth is to open oneself to new and challenging experiences but to risk the unknown and possible failure.

3. Self-awareness
In the process of self-actualizing we become more aware of our inner nature and act in accordance with it. This means we decide for ourselves whether we like certain films, books, or ideas, regardless of others' opinions.

4. Honesty
Honesty and taking responsibility for one's actions are essential elements in self- actualizing. Rather than pose and give answers that are calculated to please another or to make ourselves look good, we can look within for the answers. Each time we do so, we get in touch with our inner selves.

5. Judgment
The first four steps help us develop the capacity for "better life choices." We learn to trust our own judgment and our own inner feelings and to act accordingly. Maslow believes that following our instincts leads to more accurate judgments about what is constitutionally right for each of us-better choices in art, music, and food, as well as in major life decisions, such as marriage and a career.

6. Self-development
Self-actualization is also a continual process of developing one's potentialities. It means using one's abilities and intelligence and "working to do well the thing that one wants to do" (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p. 48). Great talent or intelligence is not the same as self-actualization; many gifted people fail to use their abilities fully while others, with perhaps only average talents, accomplish a great deal. Self-actualization is not a thing that someone either has or does not have. It is a never-ending process of making real one's potential. It refers to a way of continually living, working, and relating to the world rather than to a single accomplishment.

7. Peak Experiences
"Peak experiences are transient moments of self-actualization" (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p 1 & 48). We are more whole, more integrated, more aware of ourselves and of the world during peak moments. At such times we think, act, and feel most clearly and accurately. We are more loving and accepting of others, have less inner conflict and anxiety, and are better able to put our energies to constructive use. Some people enjoy more peak experiences than others, particularly those Maslow called transcending self-actualizers.

8. Lack of Ego Defenses
A further step in self-actualization is to recognize our ego defenses and to be able to drop them when appropriate. To do so, we must become more aware of the ways in which we distort our images of ourselves and of the external world-through repression, projection, and other defenses.

I apologize to those ADM members who will find my foray into academic analysis either offensive, trite or irrelevant... But for those who have applied scientific rigor towards understanding management processes and marketing tactics, reading Joe Webb's blog is such a juicy real-world description of Maslow's principles, I couldn't resist!


Joe, here's that sources of power stuff I was describing at NADA:

Over 40 years ago, researchers French and Raven listed five sources of power within organizations:

1. legitimate
2. reward
3. coercive
4. expert
5. referent

Many other researchers have studied these five power bases and searched for others. For the most part, French and Ravens list remains intact. The first three power bases are derived from the powerholder's position; that is, the person receives these power bases because of the specific authority or roles they are assigned in the organization. The latter two sources of power originate from the powerholder's own characteristics. In other words, people bring these power bases to the organization.

Legitimate Power
Legitimate power is an agreement among organizational members that people in certain roles can request certain behaviors of others. This perceived right partly comes from formal job descriptions as well as from informal rules of conduct. Executives have considerable legitimate power, but all employees also have this power based on company rules and government laws. For example, an organization might give employees the right to request customer files if this information is required for their job.

Legitimate power depends on more than job descriptions. It also depends on mutual agreement from those expected to abide by this authority. Your boss's power to make you work overtime partly depends on your agreement to this power. Classic stories of shipboard mutinies, such as The Caine Mutiny and Mutiny on the Bounty, illustrate this point. Today, employees question their boss's right to make them stay late, perform unsafe tasks, and other activities. Thus, legitimate power is the person's authority to make discretionary decisions as long as followers accept this discretion.

People in high power distance cultures (i.e., those who accept an unequal distribution of power) are more likely to comply with legitimate power than are people in low power distance cultures. Thus, an employee in Mexico (a high power distance culture) is more likely than someone in the US (a low power distance culture) to accept an order, particularly when the person's right to give that order is uncertain. Legitimate power is also stronger in some organizations than in others. A 3M scientist might continue to work on a project after being told by superiors to stop working on it. This is because the 3M culture supports an entrepreneurial spirit, which includes ignoring formal authority from time to time.

More generally, employees are becoming less tolerant of legitimate power. They increasingly expect to be involved in decisions rather than be told what to do. "People won't tolerate the command-and-control mode," says Bank of Montreal CEO Tony Comper. Thus, the command style of leadership that often guided employee behavior in the past must be replaced by other forms, particularly expert and referent power, which are described below.

Reward Power
Reward power is derived from the person's ability to control the allocation of rewards valued by others and to remove negative sanctions (i.e., negative reinforcement). Managers have formal authority that gives them power over the distribution of organizational rewards such as pay, promotions, time off, vacation schedules, and work assignments. Employees also have reward power over their bosses through the use of 360-degree feedback systems. Employee feedback affects the supervisor's promotions and other rewards, so bosses tend to behave differently towards employees after 360-degree feedback is introduced.

Coercive Power
Coercive power is the ability to apply punishment. Managers have coercive power through their authority to reprimand, demote, and fire employees. Labor unions might use coercive power tactics, such as withholding services, to influence management in collective agreement negotiations. Team members sometimes apply sanctions, ranging from sarcasm to ostracism, to ensure that co-workers conform to team norms.

Many firms rely on the coercive power of team members to control co-worker behavior. For example, 44 percent of production employees at the CAMI automobile plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, believe that team members use coercive power to improve co-worker performance. The coercive power of team members is also apparent at Eaton Corp.'s forge plant in South Bend, Indiana. "They say there are no bosses here," says an Eaton Corp. employee, but if you screw up, you find one pretty fast.

Expert Power
For the most part, legitimate, reward, and coercive power originate from the position. In contrast, expert power originates from within the person. It is an individual's or work unit's capacity to influence others by possessing knowledge or skills that they want. For instance, civilians working at Canada's Department of National Defence have acquired a lot of power because they know how to operate the bureaucracy. Military personnel are rotated around various Canadian Forces bases, so they depend on the civilians for their expertise as the corporate memory.

Employees are gaining expert power as our society moves from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy. The reason is that employee knowledge becomes the means of production, not some machine that the owner controls. And without this control over production, owners are more dependent on employees to achieve their corporate objectives. This is quite apparent in Canada's high-technology sector, where the skill shortage is so acute that companies have been forced to limit growth. Job applicants can demand generous salaries and preferential working conditions because of their expert power.

Referent Power
People have referent power when others identify with them, like them, or otherwise respect them. Like expert power, referent power comes from within the person. It is largely a function of the person's interpersonal skills and usually develops slowly. Referent power is usually associated with charismatic leadership. Charisma is often defined as a form of interpersonal attraction whereby followers develop a respect for and trust in the charismatic individual.

Comment by Darrin Smith on March 3, 2010 at 2:10pm
Great post. Great ideas. Thanks Joe
Comment by Todd Smith on March 3, 2010 at 1:54pm
Great post Joe you always have insight that makes me think. I love it.
Comment by Joe Webb on March 3, 2010 at 1:49pm
@Aaron - Thanks for the kind words.
@Bryan - That was DD5 when we first me. Two and a half years almost. (We're getting too old for this shizz.
@Erin - I am all with you. By no means is this practice meant to "score" leads. Lead scoring companies can do this. This is solely meant to help find valuable information about the customers (schools they went to, areas they live in, things they like and are thinking about, employers, etc) that help you build rapport over the phone and in email correspondence. I'm right with ya.
Comment by Bryan Armstrong on March 3, 2010 at 1:29pm
I love your "deconstruction" and started having my people do it right after DD 08? (Has it really been two years?) when we first met. GREAT PRO-ACTIVE IDEA! And as long as your being honest about stealing my one-liners and ideas I can tell you...I've NEVER done that. :)
Seriously though I told Matt on-line on a Friday night I needed a time clock, it was done Monday.
My last 2 AT reps have been great. :0
I believe that some are "getting it" and it will benefit us all.
Comment by Erin Zaborac on March 3, 2010 at 1:29pm
Warn your BDRs and Internet managers about pre-qualifying customers based on Google/Facebook/MySpace info. Just because a 21 year old is emailing you on a $50,000 Escalade doesn't mean he can't afford it.
Comment by aaron kominsky on March 3, 2010 at 1:22pm
Joe That's a great idea to google the leads and to see if they may be from other dealerships too spying anyway the whole article makes perfct sense if the the providers could install a link it's like a pre qualifier great job Joe as usual

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