We live in a world where new technology swirls around us at a relentless and often dizzying pace, yet as we look closer inside the automotive industry and one particular area — the CRM — the winds are very calm, and the marketplace solutions aren’t keeping pace with innovation outside of the industry.
The industry is operating in an innovation rut for automotive CRM, but we are about to enter a renaissance that will completely reimagine what is possible with an automotive dealership CRM solution, and we at 360Converge have analyzed seven areas to pay especially close attention over the next 12 months.
Data Is More Important than Oil
Dealerships face a sea of data that can be used to help salespeople more meaningfully engage with shoppers — how long they’ve been in-market, website shopping history, specific cars they’re looking at, homeownership and marriage status, credit, current vehicle and more. All of this data can be compiled to create a comprehensive shopper mosaic that a salesperson can use to create instant rapport and build relationship trust.
At 360Converge, we believe we will see more of this data appending to lead information and existing customer records as dealerships realize the power of data and the financial impact it will yield. We also don’t believe that existing CRMs will remain as the automotive industry’s primary data warehouse in the market unless they bring this data picture to life for the dealership.
The back and forth with shoppers to nail down a time to view and drive a vehicle is inefficient for both the shopper and the salesperson. Automated calendaring will usher in an entirely new experience for car shoppers and deliver a next-level time management experience for the salesperson. Empowering the consumer to decide when they want to come into the dealership creates a level of trust and control that today’s shoppers demand.
This will deliver more appointments with a higher show rate that can all be automated through email, text messaging and voice. By doing this, it will take a fundamental weak link in a salesperson’s process and turn it into a consistent shopper-centric approach that delivers sales results.
The Birth of the Open Architectural Platform
Unfortunately, most automotive CRMs haven’t embraced open architecture and dealerships are forced to run multiple platforms simultaneously, causing user fatigue or lack of utilization. With a base CRM, dealerships have to add services like call tracking, texting, equity mining, sales and service email marketing and more, creating poorly integrated solutions. After that, they need to add an entire additional layer of platforms like chat, social, website, attribution, etc.
Over the next year, we will see a new generation of platform design emerge, similar to Slack or Salesforce, that will enable a cohesive experience for the dealership user no matter what product they wish to plug into their platform.
When you look at the current top automotive CRM providers, all of their products were built at a time when desktops ruled the landscape. Mobility wasn’t a reality yet. Today, we live and breathe mobile. Mobility offers us new levels of productivity enhancements that we have never before experienced, but many dealership salespeople are using their personal mobile devices to communicate with shoppers, and the information isn’t finding its way back into the dealership’s CRM.
Dealership CRM technology must embrace mobility to unlock its potential. Current CRM providers will need to completely recreate their data and communication infrastructure in order to leverage the mobile-first mentality but doing so will pay enormous dividends. By turning a salesperson’s mobile phone into a selling assistant through more comprehensive data, including inventory, communication, training and more, the salesperson and customer will be more highly engaged and productive for the dealership.
With the increase in the number of vehicle models and the sheer amount of technological improvements that have been made in vehicles over the last 20 years, it’s important to recognize that we have entered an era of product information overload. Today’s environment is one in which shoppers tend to know more about a particular vehicle than the salesperson selling it.
This hurts the dealership’s brand and the shopper’s confidence in the salesperson, but it can be fixed with data that provides the salesperson key elements of any vehicle based on extensive data from its VIN within a click on the salesperson’s phone or desktop. By keeping the shopper engaged and informed, while building trust during the conversation, a dealership will see increased sales.
When you log into an automotive CRM today and see 10,000 uncompleted tasks, you have to wonder what is broken. Is it the salespeople, the processes, the technology, the management? Over the next 12 to 24 months, dealerships will see big data make its way down to a granular level, which will enable the CRM to create smart prompts that monitor a shopper’s online and offline behavior then align it with an action for the salesperson to execute.
For example, John Doe sent a lead into ABC Chevrolet over a month ago but went dark before first contact was even made. Over the last three days, John Doe has visited multiple automotive websites, including ABC Chevrolet, searching for a “Chevrolet Tahoe,” “Preowned” and “Low miles.” With an advanced CRM, this search would trigger an action for the salesperson to reach out via a phone call. At the same time, an email is simultaneously delivered to John Doe’s inbox with an offer on multiple vehicles that meet John’s shopping criteria.
By leveraging machine learning in near real-time, dealerships will reduce friction points along the customer’s journey to complete a sale and deliver the right information at the right time, so the salesperson can take the exact right next step.
“By turning a salesperson’s mobile phone into a selling assistant, the salesperson and customer will be more highly engaged and productive for the dealership.”
Personalization at Scale
With automation being all the rage today, bots are driving us deeper into creating a robotic experience for the shopper. Ask yourself a couple of important questions:
• How will dealerships be able to stand out in 2020?
• How will they reach into the soul of every shopper and customer and touch them in a meaningful and impactful way that not only moves them into conversation but, more importantly, into an experience that builds trust?
At 360Converge, we believe personalization at scale is not only possible, but that it is also inevitable. Personalization requires taking the lifeless logo of the dealership’s brand and augmenting it with the dealership’s smiling employees’ faces. Human connection is a powerful currency that delivers every single time. Whether shoppers’ questions are about the latest features in the upcoming model or repairing or replacing a part, the answers will all be driven by the next generation of CRM platforms.
Automotive CRM is about to enter a period of renaissance. The areas above are just the beginning of a cascade of changes in how salespeople will interact with shoppers and customers, and the tools they will leverage to do so. While existing CRMs may still bring a level of ROI for the dealership, data, bots and personalization will start to change shopper and customer expectations and redefine how the automotive sales process will work.
Stop cobbling together technology that creates more work than reward. Ask yourself two hard questions: Is your current technology reducing friction for both the customers and the dealership’s staff? And are you creating experiences that create rapport and build trust that will last a lifetime with every single shopper and customer your dealership touches each and every day?
That is the only path that will lead to future success.
For more information, visit 360converge.com, or call 833-NO-TASKS.