Most of convention was basically regurgitation of 2006. Only a few new items worth mentioning as far as I’m concerned, of course I’m only looking out for CRM/BDC and internet marketing related vendors.
Last year the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) booths (ADTraffic and ClickMotive) were rock’n. This year they seemed to be a little on the dry side every time I walked by. I think most dealers have played in the SEM game and have gotten burned or they were not seeing an ROI that made sense. This could be caused by some SEM vendors sending the customer to the dealers home page on their website and then not having anyway of tracking the conversion. PLUS, many of your website vendors have jumped on the SEM bandwagon and are offering their own SEM services.
eLead was showing off a few new additions to their CRM including a new service department module for their evolution CRM product. I sat through a demo and was initially impressed. Now if they could only get some real reports for their evolution CRM (which I hear they are working on)!
AutoBase finally introduced an ILM feature (I guess that’s what you would call it) for their CRM. Nothing over impressive but if you’re an Internet Sales Manager using Autobase CRM, I’m sure this will be a nice addition. It might sway those dealers using a separate ILM tool to just use AutoBase; saving the dealer a few dollars in the monthly budget.
I received the WORSE old school sales pitch from a gentlemen at @utorevenue.com. I’m not going to knock the product since it was never demonstrated to me; rather I had to sit through this brutal sales pitch. At one point I asked “what measures do you take to stay on the email white lists?” The answer that was given would have been great for someone that didn’t know any better but it was too obvious to me that he wasn’t sure how to answer the question though did a great job covering up his answer with smoke. That was a turn off.
DealerSocket introduced what looked to be like and impressive desking tool. I’ve always been impressed with what this CRM looks like it can do. I’d be interested in hearing from some dealers using it everyday.
AutoMart’s has a nice new clean layout from the consumers end. They have a chat service for you to speak with your potential customers. We need someone to give AutoTrader some more competition. Will AutoMart be the one to do this?
I stopped by the cars.com booth for a sales pitch and demo. I’ve never used cars.com so I can’t comment on their services or how well of an ad source it is. They were really touting their new car leads as being the best in the business. The sales guy was pitching their exclusive “scrubbing” software; AuthentiCom Validation. It’s supposed to accurately validate the consumers name, address and phone numbers. Hummm..I’ve head that one before!!
The Microsoft booth was a busy booth. It took 20 minutes of waiting around just to speak with someone in order to get a demo from one of the several companies offering products based on the MS DMS platform. I was impressed, more then what I thought I would be. After seeing some of the products and what they have to offer, I think there might be a shakedown in the DMS business sooner then what some thought.
eBay was keeping busy, pushing their new eBay local listings. I can’t confirm this, but I over heard someone saying they were signing up dealers left and right. I have mixed emotions about eBay local. I’ve been on the local program for a few months now as a beta dealer and haven’t been doing too hot with it. I’ve sold a few cars but have yet to really make any money off the sales. eBay can be a tough avenue for dealers to market themselves so I can’t wait to see how eBay furthers this local program. I’ll be writing more about my experience with the eBay Local program after I get some more solid statistics for myself.
Homenet introduced their new handheld inventory module “pocketIOL”; giving you portable instant access to your inventory. I was playing around with it and was quite impressed. I’ve seen and used a few of these hand held inventory devices in the past only to find most are buggy and just don’t work. This could be a great solution for larger dealers especially. Special thanks to Jesse and Ryan over there at Homenet for the awesome hospitality.
Higher Gear introduced a new Desking solution for their CRM. From what I saw..it seemed somewhat robust and full of features. However, I wasn’t too impressed with the payments and pricing worksheet presentation.
The craziest vendor I ran across was Amyauto.com. Who comes up with of this stuff? “Welcome to the Future”? It’s another one of those creepy looking avatars that’s supposed to “enhance the customer experience, increase loyalty and improve revenues for higher profit”. WHAT?? Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh, but I’ve never been a fan of using avatars to replace the sales professional. Who knows, maybe I’m totally wrong and Amy will be the next BIG thing.
AutoTrader was introducing their 2007 product. Now you get to add multiple photos of your dealership and upload your video commercials…Wheeewhoo. I bet they want another $1,000 for that. I’m sure my rep will be calling me soon trying to pitch it.
The Dealer.com booth was busy during their demonstration speeches, they introduced their Sales360 product. I see they launched a new website as well and are offering complete Internet Marketing solutions for dealers. This company continues to improve and impress.
eBizAuto introduced a new Streaming Video product while going live with a fresh new website.
The most innovative product I ran across was Pick-n-Clickads.com. Pick-n-Clickads says you can FIRE YOUR AD AGENCY and bring it in-house using their software. I sat through a demo and was really impressed. It was my favorite product at NADA this year. Within minutes you can build your own TV, Radio, Newspaper (Print), Direct Mail and Online ads. Of course some of the TV and Radio ads are “caned” material but you get the freedom to customize it for your dealer. I think it’s a slick product and could be a threat to some dealer advertising agencies.
BZ Results was there of course. I didn’t stop by.
JMSolutions was showing off their newly acquired DealerUp CRM.
DealerSkins was there showing off their new Autobahn inventory product.
I’d like to give an honorable mention to a small company Attilanet Corporation for some impressive products like a DMS built on the Microsoft .net framework and some nice dealership websites with dedicated customer service to back them up.
I took notice to a lot of vendors missing on the convention floor. Cobalt, iMagicLabs, DealerOn, DealerImpact to mention a few. Many vendors have been opting out of spending the money for a booth on the convention floor while getting suites at local hotels and scheduling reservations for product demonstrations. I’m sure the ROI makes more sense this way.
Overall NADA 2007 was a decent display. Not a lot of new products but a lot of vendors working hard to improve and add to their existing. Many CRM’s vendors adding Desking solutions to their offerings; I think this will continue to be a trend. We’ll see where SEO and SEM takes us next year while keeping an eye on who can give some threat to the 300 lb gorilla AutoTrader.