1. Customer Relationship Management: Technology vs. People

So many professionals in today’s fast paced and ever changing business world equate the acronym “CRM” to some type of technology or software program. The term CRM is used in conjunction with “Technology” or “Software” so often in a world driven by sales that we forget its true meaning. Customer Relationship Management is a model developed around a specific company’s needs, and that of its customers. The focus far too often falls on interactions with the software itself, rather than developing and mastering the human techniques necessary to improve a company’s interactions with existing and perspective customers.

2. Execution equals Results: Realizing your potential

The opportunity exists today in almost every organization across the world to increase efficiency and the bottom line through enhanced CRM techniques and procedures. Many large organizations have departments that are completely dedicated to doing just that – finding better ways to interact and prospect customers. In the automotive industry, we tend to rely heavily on our IT departments and CRM technology systems like Dealersocket and Salesforce to manage our customers for us. Don’t get me wrong, the two aforementioned systems are extremely powerful tools when leveraged appropriately within a strong customer relationship management model. However, on their own, a CRM with little human interaction or execution is the equivalent to a car without an engine. Human resources within your dealership are the engine that powers your interactions with customers; the technology is the efficiency that will get you from point A to B like a well mapped GPS. It’s great if you know where you want to go, but not too much help if you have no way to get there.

3. Staff Engagement: Selling the Salesperson

The most important part of your CRM model is the level of engagement throughout your organization. If only a portion of your team is proficient in executing the plan, your results will be skewed and meaningless. Many dealers we visit today are “enforcing” a CRM or similar strategy. The issue with “enforcement” is the negative connotation that is automatically attached to the term in the first place. Positive reinforcement is the key to a successful CRM model. Organizations must “sell” their staff on the opportunity available by executing a strategy through the use of proven techniques and powerful resources. The first step in selling the sales team is finding a leader in the team who understands the benefits and opportunities and will help positively reinforce them. From there, you will need to carry your model through the rest of the staff using similar techniques. The incremental gains realized by the business and the sales staff themselves are the difference.

4. Refinement: Garbage in, Garbage out

With a successful model and plan in place, the hard work should be over, right? WRONG. Once your model is in place, the hard part begins – Refinement. As you leverage the various tools available to you in your technology based CRM, you are sure to find inconsistencies in the way data is entered and tracked through your solution. It is important in this stage that positive reinforcement strategies are executed to meet the expectations of the original plan and model. Implement positive incentive programs to increase and improve staff engagement.

5. Read and React: Leveraging your success

Once your plan has been executed and refined from top to bottom it’s time to reap the benefits of all your hard work. The key performance indicators represented in your data which measure important ROI metrics like cost per sale and cost per acquisition (in the least) will finally put you in the driver’s seat. With the ability to measure and compare the effectiveness of your marketing channels, you now have the ability to apply the necessary resources and budget to blow the competition out of the water – in most cases without spending any additional marketing dollars or resources! Once you have your data in order, you are no longer limited by the “if”, “when”, or the “how”. You are only limited by your ability to execute the plan.