When reviewing a dealerships operation with a Dealer or GM, the CRM story has become very familiar. It seems many dealerships face the same barriers to CRM success. The steps to knocking down these obstacles are to identify, isolate and eliminate. Seek and destroy if you will.
Success is such an objective term; let’s clarify. John F. Kennedy said, “Success is achieving your own goals”. Following President Kennedy’s tract to be successful we have to have goals. What are your CRM goals? Did you define your goals before you made the CRM commitment? Does your entire organization know intimately what those goals are?
Seeing your vision of CRM success is where it all begins. If you can’t see “it”, describe “it” and explain how “it” can benefit your customers and the organization, success isn’t possible because no one knows what it looks like.
So let’s start there.
Barrier #1 – Leadership
The lack of top management involvement in the development of the strategy and participation in the onboarding of a CRM or new CRM is definitely a barrier to CRM success. How do you knock it down? Champion the cause and be the expert.
Recently, Brad Lillie, General Manager at Gregg Young Chevrolet asked me to join him at the home office of his new CRM provider. They were in the developmental phase of the CRM and he wanted me along to help map out the processes and calibrate task creation, messages and reporting.
While I was only there for a few days, the training lasted two weeks and Brad was there every day. He was learning, guiding and spreading his enthusiasm to his managers as they came in for their training. I ran in to one of their installation facilitators from the CRM provider a few weeks after the install and he told me it may have been the smoothest install he’d ever been involved in.
Barrier #2 – Skill Level
Poor CRM skills by managers and end users are a barrier to CRM success. Easily the most chronic of the barriers listed here. One GM told me it’s a big problem in his store and he compared it to illiteracy. Not in a social stigma kind of way, but an inability to communicate and function in a different way.
Knocking it down is tough. It takes training of course, but accountability is a must. How much training are new employees getting before expected to function at a high level?
Let’s play what if. What if your controller couldn’t use your DMS? What if your techs couldn’t operate diagnostic equipment? What if your payroll person couldn’t cut checks and your service writers couldn’t write service? What if your F&I Manager couldn’t print a contract and your Parts Manager couldn’t count?
Barrier #3 – You Bought the Wrong System
Ouch, this one smarts and is a popular barrier to CRM success. Many times I’ve heard a dealer lament his or her displeasure with their CRM. It won’t do this or doesn’t do that. This is a symptom of not having specific goals in the research phase of shopping for a CRM. One of our Contact Center customers is stuck in a CRM one of their managers had used elsewhere and said it was pretty good. Sigh.
Knocking it down starts with sitting down with your CRM provider and telling them what you want to accomplish and burden them with the solution. Just because the tool doesn’t behave in a way you expected it to, doesn’t mean the CRM won’t accomplish what you want it to accomplish.
If the CRM solution doesn’t align with your goals then find the one that will. But be diligent and get it right!
Barrier #4 – Failure to See the Benefits
Employee’s inability to see and understand the benefits of your CRM system is a cultural barrier to success. If employees have a paradigm that CRM is just a meaningless requirement imposed by their manager, success isn’t even in the picture
The key to knocking this barrier down lies in the hands of your managers.
First, managers must lead by example and should be the CRM experts in the dealership. If you just laughed out loud then focus on training your managers. In some cases, I’ve seen managers actually undermine the CRM vision with poor judgment in the way they talk about the CRM with their subordinates.
Secondly, your employees are from Missouri. Show them the benefits. Nothing wins votes like success stories. There is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” thing going on. Success breeds success and the managers have to be the drivers of the initial successes of the CRM strategy.
Barrier #5 – Inadequate Measuring Practices
Not knowing what to measure to gain success or the benchmarks, parameters and guidelines of a successful CRM strategy stifles CRM success. In other words, winging it.
The method for knocking down the measurement barrier consists of clear expectations, realistic benchmarks and accountability.
Performance standards are the easiest way to get on the right track. Think about what you want your employees to “do” and not the results. Manage the behavior and you predetermine the results. This contradicts the normal way of thinking in our “eat what you kill” business mentality but is quite a popular methodology in many organizations
Set performance benchmarks based on realistic results. A salesperson told me his manager made him make 30 calls a day but he didn’t really know whom he was supposed to be calling. If he didn’t complete his calls, it affected him financially in his pay plan. I can see the management is trying but they missed the mark. The benchmark is about the behavior not the result.
So, the salesman makes thirty calls a day, to his Mom, sister, some buddies, etc., and asked them to stay on the line with him for a couple of minutes so the system will record a completed call. When talking to management about this (I didn’t bust the salesperson) they really just want their salespeople to develop some business of their own. “If every salesperson could create two deals a month then we’d sell 30 more cars” was the reason I was given. Instead of setting the salesperson up with a benchmark of developing two deals a month, then creating CRM campaigns that prospect customers in equity for example, they told him to make 30 calls a day.
There are other barriers I see in dealerships. The quality of data in the CRM can hinder success and can usually be traced back to the legacy system. No oversight, thinking CRM is totally automated and just plain old underutilizing the power of the CRM are just a few more of many barriers.
However, if you can knock down the five we just reviewed, you will be a great CRM dealership and the other barriers will be much easier to overcome