Being able to capture a lead and track from start to finish provides a clearer picture of the quality of the lead and the quality of the interactions of your sales team. And a good CRM helps dealers measure the benchmarks or activities important to them, such as prospect logging, lead response time, appointment set to shown ratio and most importantly, appointment shown to sold ratio. However, no CRM no matter how good it is can make dealership employees more accountable. What do I mean? It takes good managers with in-store processes that continuously track and measure activities, provide coaching where needed, give rewards for achievements and dole out consequences when goals are not achieved.

For instance, have you assessed how long lead opportunities sit untouched before a response is made? Response time is key. In fact our culture has become so impatient thanks to technology, customers perceive a delayed response as a “no” response. Capgemini Cars Online study entitled 2014 Generation Connected Study 73 percent of those surveyed said they would look for another dealer or manufacturer if they took too long to respond. Dealers are three times more likely to see a consumer visit the showroom when a lead is responded to within 10 minutes. With the advent of mobile technology, responding to leads is easier and faster than ever before. Mobile CRM is, quite literally, a virtual sales office that gives immediate access to respond to every business opportunity at any time, no matter the salesperson’s location. Through technology, there is no reason a lead should sit a day or even hours without a response – yes, even when the lead is received after hours.

Nine out of ten consumers expect a stage in the sales process to take no longer than 30 minutes. It is up to us as salespeople and marketers to deliver on that expectation at its minimum. But shouldn’t we all strive to exceed expectations because the customer is so engaged with our commitment to listen to their needs with the end result of delivering a product and good buying experience?

Take a look at these two dealerships in the same auto group located 22.2 miles apart. Store 1 displays good in-store processes and CRM usage and adoptability with a 64 percent appointment to shown ratio and 73 percent appointment to sold ratio. Store 2 is opposite with lower marks in write-ups, demos and TO percentages. With an appointment to shown ratio of 45 percent and a 49 percent appointment to sold ratio, this is an average of approximately 20 percent less than store 1.

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Not only should a good CRM provide auto dealers the exact tools needed to communicate in a way consumers demand, but also it should quickly and accurately measure key performance metrics. A CRM is only as good as the leaders who enforce its usage. As Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Being realistic with your goals is key to managing expectations. Will a CRM alone keep a customer from walking out of your showroom because they were ignored? No. Will it make you more organized in lead follow-up? Absolutely.

Develop precise and manageable activities that are achievable and align with your end goals. Monitor every day and quickly react when needed through coaching, rewards and consequences.   Most importantly, use your CRM as a reporting tool and constantly remind the sales team of these activities and how they are ranked. Tie performance of these activities to your bonus structure – this can be done on several levels across all departments. Most importantly, lead by example. In the end, we are all looking for results.

Good Selling!

– Bill Wittenmyer, Partner