How CRM Training Builds a Winning Dealership Team

For your team to do its job well, it has to be able to use its tools well

When it comes to your dealership’s success, the customer relationship management (CRM) system is king.

It gives you a handle on your existing customers so you can spend less time managing and more time closing. It helps you mine sales and service customers for new opportunities. And it lets you evaluate how your team is operating so you can spot and fix problems before they cost you.

I tell salespeople, “Every second you’re not with a customer, you should be logged into the CRM.” But you can’t achieve success without CRM training. CRMs are complex tools. Sure, you can poke around on your own and learn the basics.

To get real value from your system, though, you and your provider have to train your team on how to use it. Ready to master CRM training and prepare your team for success?

Class is now in session.

Get your eyes on the prize

Your CRM can help you succeed, but only if you know what you mean by “success.” Set a goal for your new system so you can decide what training you need to achieve it.

What problems do you want to fix? What metrics need improving? With specifics, you can focus your training where it’s needed most.

If this philosophical goal-setting sounds overwhelming, don’t worry: You don’t have to do it alone. Even post-purchase, your CRM provider should be a trusted partner you can rely on for help and advice.

If your provider doesn’t push you to sharpen your vision and strive for excellence, you shouldn’t use that company in the first place. If you’re the star athlete, your CRM provider is the head coach. It’s the coach’s job to be invested in your success and help you achieve your potential.

Prepare your people

To make your vision a reality, you have to get your team on board. If they don’t believe the new system will help them, they won’t spend time learning how to use it.

Sam Passer, my company’s senior director of client onboarding, describes the struggle to get buy-in. “Salespeople know how to use their current tool,” he says. “They don’t want to learn something new. You have to convince them the new tool will make their lives better.”

Fortunately, convincing salespeople is pretty easy. What’s their biggest motivation? Selling more cars. If they see how the new CRM can help them do that, they’ll be all in.

Sam also emphasizes the importance of choosing the right person to own your CRM. Many dealers get this wrong, thinking, “The CRM is software, right? I’ll let my IT guy handle it.”

But the CRM runs your dealership, so a dealership expert should own it. Sam recommends selecting a CRM champion to be your resident expert and handle in-house training. You might have to hire outside for this, but if the new hire knows the system inside-out, the additional sales you’ll gain will be worth it.

Beyond the CRM champion, have managers take ownership of their own processes. Desking managers own desking processes, ILMs handle internet leads, and so on. That way, they create processes they agree with—and that their team will follow.

Hit the ground running

Once your team’s on board, it’s time to start training. Chris Hawthorne, director of training at my company, has great training advice: Start simple.

“Many dealers get so excited about the bells and whistles that they never master the basics,” Chris says. “The foundation for CRM success is executing the basics well.”

Tackle the fundamentals first: logging in, adding customers, desking deals. If your provider offers on-demand video training, watch the videos ahead of time. By mastering the “buttonology” on your own, you can explore advanced features when your provider sends trainers on-site.

Chris stressed the importance of buy-in. “Salespeople don’t want to attend training,” he says. “Every minute they’re in training is a minute they could be selling cars.”

But CRM training helps sell more cars—so make attending your provider’s training sessions mandatory. If your provider knows your definition of success, it can personalize your training to make the most of your time.

When on-site training ends, check in with your team. Chris does over-the-shoulder checks to make sure salespeople grasp the basics. You can always ask your provider questions later, but now’s your chance to solve problems before they start.

Keep up the good work

Even when on-site training is over, your work isn’t. Most top-performing dealerships train their teams year-round.

Their CRM champions train new employees monthly, if not weekly. They offer on-demand video training, and hold mandatory training for the whole team annually. That way, new hires don’t slip through the cracks, and existing employees can’t develop bad habits.

How do you know whether your team needs retraining? Tons of open support tickets are one sign of a problem. On the other hand, no open tickets could indicate a different problem: Your team isn’t communicating. They’re reading water—and unless you step in, they’ll sink.

Remember: Training isn’t a silver bullet. Low utilization could be either a “knowing” problem or a “doing” problem. If a team member doesn’t know how to use the CRM, retraining can help. But if that person is choosing not to use it, you might need a new employee.

Watch for signs of success, too. During onboarding, Chris and Sam choose which metrics to measure during follow-up visits. These metrics are based on the dealer’s top concerns: internet leads, appointments, follow-ups, and so on. These numbers show you how your team is performing, and how well they’re using the system.

At the end of the day, your CRM doesn’t sell cars. Your team does. But for them to do their job well, they need to use their tools well. By acing CRM training, you’re empowering your team and putting your dealership on the fast track to success.

Class dismissed!

Mark Vickery is the senior director of performance management at VinSolutions.

Mark Vickery

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Jim Bowser October 12, 2016

    The problem with most CRM systems for the dealership is the complexity and customizability of the solution. Many vendors offer a customized CRM for dealers but only couple actually work:, and Oracle.


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