The Right CRM Tools Make You Money

August 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by John Max Miller - Also by this author

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems—does yours harness the value of e-mail marketing, or has it harnessed you?

Let’s face it, CRM is here to stay. Many dealerships choose to buy CRM systems instead of outsourcing because they are tangible. Dealers expect their staff will use the system, and the dealer will, hopefully, be satisfied that they got their money’s worth.

Let’s talk about your CRM system….

I assume you are happy with its ability to track leads. Most CRM systems do that fairly well. I’m sure it tracks your sales activity, report data about how your staff is handling leads and where they are in the sales cycle. What about closing ratios? Wonderful! Gross profit per vehicle? Great!

Now, let’s discuss what your people did with the CRM system and what the CRM system did for you.

As we all know, people are our biggest investment, and you need them to work hard to get your money’s worth. Does your CRM system work just as hard? Does it make you money? Your CRM system should make you money—money that you can put a finger on—every day.

Most CRM systems do not automate many processes. They require human interaction to manage and implement these processes, while automated processes cost nothing.

E-mail is something that can and should make a lot of money when utilized properly. Used improperly, it can doom you to a life of more expensive communication methods like phones, direct mail and mass advertising. E-mail is not only the least expensive mode of communication; it has the highest response rate! Why communicate any other way unless you have to?

If you sent mass e-mails from your CRM system last month, do you know how many got delivered to your customers and how many were opened? Do you know how many leads were generated from the e-mails you sent? Bottom line, you should know how much money you made with e-mail last month from your CRM system.
Most CRM systems were not designed to manage feedback from other systems on the Internet (ISP Feedback Loops) and therefore can not track a lot of the necessary information to help you maximize your return on investment. When someone opts-out, is the removal process automatic so someone at your dealership won’t accidentally send that address another e-mail? Also noteworthy to remember is that a lot of bounced e-mails from one IP address could cause an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to blacklist you. Because of this, you should stop sending e-mails to bounced addresses.

E-mail goes deep; it is not just sending out mass e-mails and hoping for success. There are laws about what must be in an e-mail to be “CAN SPAM” compliant. The ISPs like AOL, Yahoo and Comcast all have rules they deploy before your e-mails ever reach their customers. A quality CRM system should test the deliverability of your e-mails before you send them. If your customer’s mark your e-mails as spam, does your CRM tool tell you what steps to take? Will an ISP allow delivery of your e-mails again if marked as spam once?

The e-mail marketplace is changing. Rules from the different ISPs change almost daily on how/what to do to get e-mails delivered to customers. Do not be fooled! E-mail marketing is not about sending e-mails. It is about communicating with the right customers at the right time about information they’ll see as relevant, so they either act on the e-mail (results) or just delete the message because the offer does not interest them at this time (but does not opt out).

The right CRM provider or system should let you know what you need to do to make sure your e-mails get delivered so you can see results. Your system should also explain what not to put in an e-mail so it doesn’t get caught in spam or ISP filters.

I ask a lot of questions, because after 24 years in this business, I think like a dealer. Dealers are entrepreneurs that want to make money, as they should be. If your CRM e-mail system is not making you money, add an e-mail system that will get results. Just because you invested in a CRM system doesn’t mean you have to be satisfied with every aspect of it. It’s more than just sending e-mail. To make money with e-mail, it takes time to develop the right message that will reach the right customers at the right time.

Vol 5, Issue 6

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