Dealership Communication ToolsDealership Operations & ProcessesOpinions & Advice

Blinded by the CRM

Trade-in leads are pretty easy to convert, right? Someone wants a number on their current car, and all you need to do is tell them you’re excited about getting another one of those cars because they sell so well at your store.

What if you had a chat tool, a digital retailing tool, and a trade form on your website? You might. And you might have a customer who starts a chat about a trade, goes into the digital retailing solution to focus on a trade, and then submits a lead from your trade form. It sounds unlikely, but I see it happen often.

Because many of the chats are bots or a managed service, one must read deeply into the transcript to discover the conversation went into a trade. And because that is sometimes the first way we know this customer exists, it becomes the first note in the customer history: Lead from Chat.

Then subsequent leads about the trade are marked bad because they’re duplicates, and it is easy to understand why a BDC agent or internet manager misses the fact that this customer wants to talk about a trade. What if the subsequent leads have new information to help write a better email or leave a better voicemail?

Instead, we concentrate the conversation on the vehicle of interest, and that customer never responds to an email or returns a voicemail… another crappy lead, right?

I am seeing this happen more than I’d like. And this is one example of many that speak to the larger issue:

The widely adopted automotive CRMs were coded in a time when dealers were buying $20 leads and needed a way to get refunded. One of the biggest features was that refund capability.

These CRMs use that same lead intake system to receive any kind of data from an outside source as well. ADFs.

So, if the only way fresh data can enter the tool is to receive it via ADF, but the tool is marking those fresh pieces of data bad, one could surmise the tool is no longer relevant. One could go so far as to say automotive CRMs are hindering dealers.

There is no doubt these tools have become archaic and are truly showing just how blinding they are to what the dealers need.

Do your coworkers and staff know the red BAD LEAD words are not a negative sign? Maybe this is a good time to let everyone know those words actually mean: YOU HAVE AN ENGAGED SHOPPER!!!!

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Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
Sep 10, 2014
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You bring up a great point. And even the CRM's that tout their "AI" capabilities still often do not have an effective means of alerting us in real time and/or with accurate information regarding "trade-in" requests amongst other requests. And the other issue is that most dealers "lead-forms" (whether from an endemic site, or their own) do not have them labeled appropriately. If the lead came in as "Dealer Website - Trade-in Request" vs. "Dealer Chat Lead" and otherwise (as you mentioned, and I agree) get's marked "bad" you would have a better chance of converting those customers. Sending the same old canned email response - without answering the customers questions - doesn't cut it.

The other thing that CRM's largely fail to accomplish is the UI for "customer data." Wherein, if they are continuing to cram in vendor "integrations" on their "legacy" platforms (chat, text, in-bound calls, etc.) it makes for a daunting process to "read the profile" to put the pieces together before responding. Lastly, let's take it a step further, sure most CRM's (if not all) enable you to push DMS data (deals/service repair orders), but the fact is that because the dealers use so many various tools when the data does finally make it to the CRM it becomes alphabet soup, and to the point above, it makes for a daunting process to work a customers profile.

Trade-in leads are pretty easy to convert, right? Someone wants a number on their current car, and all you need to do is tell them you’re excited about getting another one of those cars because they sell so well at your store.

What if you had a chat tool, a digital retailing tool, and a trade form on your website? You might. And you might have a customer who starts a chat about a trade, goes into the digital retailing solution to focus on a trade, and then submits a lead from your trade form. It sounds unlikely, but I see it happen often.

Because many of the chats are bots or a managed service, one must read deeply into the transcript to discover the conversation went into a trade. And because that is sometimes the first way we know this customer exists, it becomes the first note in the customer history: Lead from Chat.

Then subsequent leads about the trade are marked bad because they’re duplicates, and it is easy to understand why a BDC agent or internet manager misses the fact that this customer wants to talk about a trade. What if the subsequent leads have new information to help write a better email or leave a better voicemail?

Instead, we concentrate the conversation on the vehicle of interest, and that customer never responds to an email or returns a voicemail… another crappy lead, right?

I am seeing this happen more than I’d like. And this is one example of many that speak to the larger issue:

The widely adopted automotive CRMs were coded in a time when dealers were buying $20 leads and needed a way to get refunded. One of the biggest features was that refund capability.

These CRMs use that same lead intake system to receive any kind of data from an outside source as well. ADFs.

So, if the only way fresh data can enter the tool is to receive it via ADF, but the tool is marking those fresh pieces of data bad, one could surmise the tool is no longer relevant. One could go so far as to say automotive CRMs are hindering dealers.

There is no doubt these tools have become archaic and are truly showing just how blinding they are to what the dealers need.

Do your coworkers and staff know the red BAD LEAD words are not a negative sign? Maybe this is a good time to let everyone know those words actually mean: YOU HAVE AN ENGAGED SHOPPER!!!!
 

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
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I'm so excited to see what the CRM you are building looks like, @Alex Snyder :cool: so we can end the insanity that is Automotive CRM today!

VinSolutions is pretty bad in this area as not only do they call Duplicates "Bad" but they hide them from the timeline on the "Active" lead. As I recall, eLead, which we did fire years ago, was better at inserting the Duplicate within the timeline. As far as Trade leads, I find myself talking a lot about "how did the shopper raise their hand?" with sales teams. Did the shopper raise their hand on a trade tool, did they raise their hand on the Lease special, etc in order to help them focus on the "why" a shopper took action. Seems to help. It also helps to show sales teams the same path the shopper took to fill that form out. Here's where we could beat up the Trade tools a bit. Once they see that the UX forced the shopper to "pick your vehicle of interest" that lightbulb clicks for them and they seem to then comfortably settle into asking for next steps focusing on the trade with the shopper. I actually have them hyper-focus on that trade and next steps for in-person or remote appraisal without even talking about "what are you replacing it with?". That usually comes up naturally from the shopper which then becomes a pretty natural conversation about vehicle selection.

Is it all the CRM's fault? TradePending, for instance, uses a very slight language differences as to whether the customer updated the miles or left it as default (which in my mind is an indicator of seriousness). "with 75000 miles" vs "with estimated 75000 miles" so a rep really has to dig into the ADF section to review it. A phone call goes way better when the sales rep pays attention to that one word, "estimated", and can apply the correct phrasing of "I see you have about 75000 miles" or "I see average miles for your car is 75000 miles. About how many are on yours?". Can the vendor add a line to the ADF of "HEY YOU THIS SHOPPER TOOK THE TIME TO ENTER THEIR MILEAGE" LOL. And if the shopper entered 75,137, whoa Nelly, lay down alert!