Customer relationship management software, or CRM, is a software package that allows a business to manage customer relationships by collecting customer data and using it to better target a company’s sales, service and marketing efforts. The goal of CRM is to keep both new and current customers interested in the company’s products and services, communicate effectively with customers, and to build long-lasting customer relationships, increasing sales and profits as a result.
General-purpose CRM software works well for many businesses, but the automotive sales industry has unique goals and requirements that are not often fulfilled by standard CRM software. Sales and marketing strategies are more difficult and quite different from other products, long-term customer relationships are more important, and service after the sale is as important as the initial sale.
Dealer CRM fills the niche left behind by standard CRM software. It is designed from the ground up to meet the unique needs of the automotive sales industry, such as managing vehicle inventory and scheduling service department appointments, and it cultivates long-lasting customer relationships that extend far beyond the initial sale.
Here are a few of the ways that dealer CRM is different from general-purpose CRM software solutions:
#1 Marketing Strategy
Standard CRM software is adept at marketing regular products and services, such as a line of tools or a cleaning business, but marketing automobiles is a completely different process. Customers tend to do much more research on the product, complicated financing options are involved in the sale, and customers may visit several dealerships and look at several different models before finally making a decision. After the sale is completed, the customer relationship must be nurtured to keep the customer coming back to the dealership for service, support, and ideally, further vehicle sales.
Dealer CRM software manages this type of marketing better by maintaining vast stores of customer and vehicle information, allowing it to help your dealership better target marketing efforts both before and after the sale.
Prior to a sale, data on potential customers is collected from the Internet, the phone and visits to the dealership, and marketing efforts are focused on attracting new customers, and keeping them engaged and interested enough to continue through the sales process until a deal is completed. Once a sale is made, the dealer CRM uses the information gained in the process to refocus marketing efforts on keeping the customer coming back for vehicle service, premium parts and accessories, and additional vehicle sales. It uses tools such as coupons, loyalty programs and direct mail to keep customers interested, and it keeps the lines of communication open through phone, email, direct mail, and social media, building long-term relationships with customers and rewarding loyalty.
#2 Sales Strategy
With regular products or services, there are few opportunities to up-sell or to market premium products and services, and general-purpose CRM is designed around these sales concepts. In automotive sales, the strategy is very different. The initial sale is often only one aspect of the overall customer relationship. After the sale, the customer will return for routine maintenance, warranty work, and additional products and services. Each transaction represents a chance to increase sales and profits.
Dealer CRM software is specially designed to take advantage of the multiple sales opportunities associated with a vehicle transaction. It maintains contact with customers to offer additional products and services, and it can identify possible sales opportunities with each and every transaction in the sales and service departments. This offers multiple opportunities to increase sales and profits by offering premium services, parts and accessories, and with complete access to a customer’s sales and vehicle history, the dealer CRM software can help target the customer directly with products or services that will be of legitimate interest to the customer, increasing the chances of success.
#3 Inventory Management
With standard products, there are few options, such as sizes and colors. Standard CRM software works well for such products, but keeping track of automobile inventory is much more difficult. There are hundreds of options available on each make and model, and depending on the options selected, the price of the vehicle can vary dramatically. In addition, there are many programs, discounts and incentives that can be applied, making the price of a vehicle extremely malleable.
The inventory management option of dealer CRM software is a much better solution for keeping track of automobile prices and options than general-purpose CRM software, because it is uniquely designed to take all of these variables into account. It can also help to list vehicles on the dealership’s website, track sales figures and produce marketing materials, such as electronic brochures, for a particular model.
#4 Service Department
Standard CRM software was simply not designed to handle the needs of a busy service department. Appointments must be scheduled, vehicle histories must be maintained, service progress must be monitored, and products and services must be marketed effectively to maintain customer interest and increase sales.
Dealer CRM software for the service department can organize and streamline service operations far better than any standard CRM package could. It can offer online scheduling and vehicle histories, make and track appointments, monitor repair orders, and notify customers about the status of their vehicles. It can also increase sales by identifying premium services, parts and accessories that may interest a customer with each transaction, and it can organize marketing efforts, such as service discounts, to ensure that the service department has a steady flow of customers, allowing the dealership to schedule personnel appropriately. By offering a wide array of services and convenient scheduling, the dealer CRM software can help to ensure that customers are satisfied with the service, that they remain interested in additional products or services, and that the service process is both smooth and efficient.
By focusing strictly on the automotive sales industry, dealer CRM is in a much better position to meet the unique needs of both the dealership and its customers than standard CRM solutions. It will help to make sales, marketing and service operations run more efficiently, attract new customers, keep current customers satisfied, and drive sales and profits to new heights.