A Sales Manager’s Five Laws of CRM Use

April 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Greg Wells - Also by this author

Your CRM tool, regardless of which one you use, is a valuable piece of technology in your dealership. It may also be one of the more under-utilized tools you have. BDC staff and some salespeople are very adept at using a CRM tool’s features. These employees usually enter data correctly, prevent duplication and perform the tasks the CRM assigns each day.

However, in a lot of stores there is a disconnect, and it is with the sales managers. Sales managers are busy. They perform most of their duties in the DMS or a desking tool and aren’t familiar with the CRM.

I have seen some common denominators in the truly great CRM dealerships. Not coincidently, these are dealerships that get more than their share of the market and have a lower-than-average cost per sale. A common thread is the sales managers and their uncommon use of the CRM tool.

Here are five laws followed by the sales managers working in these high-performance stores. Following these guidelines allows your CRM tool to become an accelerator of your business, leads to a more effective use of the CRM and results in a more efficient sales staff and BDC.

Law 1: The sales managers are the experts. They know the CRM as well as or better than anyone in the dealership. After all, it is called customer relationship management.

The sales managers are knowledgeable about the campaigns, integration with other systems and reporting. The sales managers in great CRM stores don’t expect anyone working with or for them to do anything they don’t do themselves.

Law 2: The sales managers track data collection and set acceptable standards. They track data collection as closely as they track sales, gross and expenses. The input of data is the lifeblood of the CRM tool. If you have a BDC, data is the fuel that powers everything the BDC does. Sales managers hold salespeople and BDC agents accountable for logging all customers.

When sales and BDC staff enter new customers, the sales managers accept nothing less than 90 percent with addresses, two phone numbers 80 percent of the time, an e-mail capture rate of 75 percent and notes 100 percent of the time. Some even require a 25-word minimum in the notes.

Law 3: The sales managers edit and/or inspect the showroom status of every showroom visitor. CRMs are results-based and status-based when it comes to creating tasks. These sales managers understand that the accuracy of useful reports depends on this kind of attention.

Sales managers want to be able to pull a list of customers who test drove a certain model in the last 60 days. They can target market those customers when the manufacturer announces that “until the end of the month” rebate. They want to know that sold customers are getting “sold” follow-up and unsold customers are getting the follow-up they need.

Law 4: Great CRM stores have sales managers who rank unsold showroom traffic. It may be as simple as yellow and green. The customers ranked green are the ones salespeople and/or the BDC need to get back on an appointment basis. Green customers can buy! This way sales managers don’t rely on the salesperson or BDC to decide who should be followed up and who should receive a courtesy thank-you call as there is really nothing to rehash. Those are the customers they rank yellow.

Law 5: Finally, the sales managers in great CRM stores do not tolerate duplication. In fact, they hate it. Why? Because it makes the dealership look like they don’t know what they are doing when customers get two or three letters and e-mails saying the same thing.

One of the worst things that can happen is a sold customer receiving offers caused by a duplicate event in the CRM.  I saw a case recently where a customer got an e-mail a few days after they took delivery asking them to “Come back in, we have independent appraisers on site and can give you more for your trade.” It reminds me of Chris Berman’s Monday Night Football line, “Come on man!”

Your CRM tool is an amazing piece of technology. Learn to use it. Proper use of your CRM makes you look smart and will make you more effective and efficient in managing your store’s opportunities. And salespeople become better because you can actually monitor, measure and coach them based on their behavior instead of just looking at last month’s sales and telling them they need to do better.

Follow these five laws and you’ll sell more cars. You will be focused on all of your business and not just the business in front of you at any given time.

Vol. 8, Issue 2


  1. 1. DON RICE [ April 05, 2011 @ 11:36AM ]

    The auto business would be great if you could find one sales manager with all the assets described in this article.
    Many sales managers got their jobs because they were failures as salesmen or kin to the owners or bosses. Few are as gifted as suggested herein. In examining new car operations many times the sales managers are the weakest link in sales production and customer retention.
    Managers should be able to do the things attributed to them in this article but I would suspect less than 1 in 20 possesses even a small measure of all these traits.
    Boy it would be nice if managers really was this good!


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