By Mark Vickery, Senior Director of Performance Management, VinSolutions
Though every car shopper is different, three general types have emerged: Shopper A who wants to do everything online, shopper B who wants to complete some steps online, and shopper C who prefers the traditional, in-person buying process. With dealership foot-traffic down or in some cases, not an option due to health mandates, even shopper C is being forced online. Many shopper Bs, who want to do some of their deal online, are quickly transforming into shopper As, who are happy to purchase their vehicle without even stepping foot in the showroom.
The most recent Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study revealed that 43% of car purchasers who bought since mid-March did more steps online than they have in the past. But, 71% of car purchase intenders say they want to do even more of the steps online compared to when they last purchased a vehicle.
Needless to say, the buying journey is no longer linear. So, how can dealers successfully navigate the maze and guide customers through unique car buying journeys? For salespeople not equipped with psychic abilities, the right CRM technology can make the difference between a record rally and a record loss. Investing in a CRM is a big decision, especially in tight times. However, dealers can mitigate the risk and reap the rewards by following a few thoughtful steps:
1. Form a Committee
Since your team will be the ones using the software, it’s important to make them part of the selection process. Select a diverse lineup with members from different departments across the dealership so you can gather different perspectives. CRM selection will impact everyone from fixed ops to your top sales rep, so it’s crucial to ask for and consider their input, whether through surveys or all-hands meetings.
2. Create Your Criteria
Now, ask yourself some tough but critical questions. For example: What do we hope to accomplish? Is it campaigning the right offer to your database to generate repeat sales or service business? Better follow-up or greater accountability? Next, what do I expect from my team? How much am I willing to spend to achieve the results I want? Try not to base your budget on how much you’re currently spending if you’re looking to upgrade a current system that leaves something to be desired.
Finally, what do I expect from my vendor? Make sure to define what kind of support you need and to make your expectations known. The right vendor will not only be capable of convincing you to buy but also offer excellent customer service, including pointing out areas of opportunity that can and do make a difference before, during, and especially after your final decision. Look for a CRM partner, not just a vendor.
3. Compare and Contrast Your Options
It’s your right to be picky about this decision and even a little nosy. Look into what CRMs your competitors or sister dealerships are using. Take advantage of consultants and ask questions like whether the vendor is reputable, how often the CRM is updated with new technology, whether your peers have any bad experiences, or if there are any hidden costs. This should help you narrow down some top options.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Demo
After conducting thorough research, it’s time to demo your top options. Think of this like the test drive you offer your customers. Contact each of the vendors and request an overview that works for your selection committee’s schedule. This is an appropriate time to ask any final questions. Good providers will also record the sessions so you can weigh your options side by side before making a final decision.
5. Decision Day
Consult your committee, remember your criteria, and decide which option is the best fit for you and your staff. Make sure to be fully aware of and prepared for the contractual obligations. A lengthy, complex contract could be a deal-breaker if you’re not ready for the commitment. Consider taking a vote with your committee if you’re torn between options. Buy-in from your team is crucial for the long-term success of your investment so their opinion really does matter.
Like a car is made to be driven, a CRM is made to be used. Your CRM will be in the best running condition and yield the most profitable results when all of its parts are engaged.
The dealers who are realizing greater efficiency are those who are adapting their business to get the most out of their investment and who are willing to work collaboratively with their partners to execute change. The same rules for good business apply with or without using a CRM, like customer service, communication, and transparency. The CRM will make all of these things, which today’s customer increasingly values, easier to manage.
There’s never been a better time to embrace the technology that can give customers the experience they have become dependent on, and fond of, to take your business to a new level.
About the Author
Mark Vickery came to VinSolutions to establish Performance Management in 2013. Since, he’s grown VinSolutions’ Performance Management department to more than 90 team members. Mark brings a strong background in the retail car business with a focus on customer retention and leading and establishing teams.