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How a CRM Can Help Dealers Meet and Exceed Pre-Pandemic Growth

How a CRM Can Help Dealers Meet and Exceed Pre-Pandemic Growth

A new report from eLEND Solutions shows 80% of dealers surveyed fast-tracked adoption of digital retailing tools due to the pandemic. It’s no secret many dealers were caught unprepared for dramatic shifts in shopping and buying behavior and are now playing catch up.

We don’t know if the market will be forever changed once COVID-19 is firmly in the rear-view mirror. But we do know the past year has taught us that preparation and a backup plan are key in case another virus takes the world by storm.

Strategic use of your CRM is one of the best ways to get back to your pre-pandemic revenue numbers and build a pandemic-proof book of business moving forward. Here’s why:

AI Helps You Run Lean.

A CRM that supports some AI heavy lifting allows you to run lean while still growing your business. AI technology can follow up on those cold leads that still need attention but aren’t a good use of salespeople’s time.

AI is not appropriate for a low-funnel, engaged customer ready to act. That requires a human. But if you have salespeople spending half their days following up on leads that are 60 days old? That’s a huge waste of time.

Determine when AI should take over with an honest and true assessment of your sales team’s strengths and available resources. Is your team phenomenal at closing hot leads but not good with leads that are 45 days old? Flip leads to AI at that 45-day mark. Are you working with fewer salespeople? Have them fully engaged for the first 10 days then let AI take over.

Every dealership is different. Identify why and where your store should use AI, then lean on it to engage cold leads while your team is closing those low in the funnel.

Flexibility Allows for Adaptation.

A lot of dealerships learned very quickly that they didn’t have a backup plan for selling cars. It’s no wonder so many hit the gas on digital retailing adoption. A CRM with the flexibility to support different types of sales processes like digital retailing is key right now.

A CRM also needs to support big factors that go beyond digital retailing like touchless delivery, contactless payment and fraud protection. You need to be able to easily integrate all these vendors and easily identify customer preference when it comes to sales options.

Every capable CRM today recognizes customers who have opted out of calls and emails. In the near future, I would bet that there will be a contactless status similar to opt-out. A flexible CRM will support new customer preferences moving forward.

Reporting Reveals New Opportunities.

The pandemic has changed the way people shop and how they drive. Many people ditched the long commute for the home office. Dealers that can use their CRM to quickly identify customers who are driving less have a huge opportunity to build a profitable lease portfolio and score high-quality used inventory.

Use CRM reporting to identify customers that put far more miles on their vehicles in 2019 than they did in 2020. With high-mileage penalties off the table, you can capitalize on a customer’s current driving habits to get them into a nicer vehicle at a lower payment with a shorter trade cycle.

A CRM that helps you quickly shift gears depending on customer behavior helps you build a pandemic-proof book of business.

Filtering Data Cuts Costs.

The shake-up in the market also makes this an optimal time to look at your true cost of a sale. Lean on reports in your CRM that break down cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale per lead provider.

To spend smarter, you need to find the channels that deliver the best sales leads, not the most leads. High volume does not equal high quality or high sales. In fact, high volume with low close could be costing you money because you’re also paying the salaries of internal staff to follow-up on those leads.

By filtering the data down to your sales-qualified leads and sold leads, you’ll see what’s really impacting your bottom line.

A flexible CRM that supports AI and includes robust reporting is one of your best defenses against rapid market change. Not every dealer knows what their business will look like long term. But with the right technology and a backup plan, your business can meet and exceed pre-pandemic benchmarks and be prepared for whatever comes next.

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