The “New” CRM—Target, Market and Convert

In the past, most CRM tools served as little more than a safety net to ensure sales reps kept in contact with prospects…they were basically an electronic reminder service. And while many of those CRM tools are still (unfortunately) in use today, there is a new wave of true Customer Relationship Management products that actually drive sales and service revenue for dealers.

These newer offerings are enjoying a fairly fast adoption in progressive dealerships, because of the innovative ways they help increase revenue and profit. If you’re a dealer trying to truly leverage the data in your CRM to deliver growth versus someone just using it to remind prospects of upcoming appointments, you’ll want to be sure you focus on the business drivers that come standard with the better tools:

Create targeted lists for marketing campaigns

While this ability has been around for awhile in terms of CRM, the difference today is within the way successful dealers are using it to drive conversions. Many CRM systems now let you dissect customer data by criteria such as the last service appointment, or how frequently the customer buys a vehicle over their lifetime. The result is a virtual sales funnel that helps your team stay with the prospect from point of interest to final sale. Use lists to track patterns and connect with those targets when they’re most likely to buy. Throw in a coupon for service or a special deal for the most loyal members and you’ll have an even greater chance of conversion.

Pinpoint interests based on communications

In addition to email and notes from phone calls and ups, use your CRM system to track social media channels. By following every form of feedback a customer gives, your sales force will be more apt to reach out with the right “pitch” at a crucial decision-making moment. In addition, customers are happy to know they’re not just a number and personalized communication, based on details from your CRM, will let them know they’re important to your dealership.

Track phone calls, emails, and conversions with reporting tools

Of all the advances in CRM, this area is perhaps the most evolved. The reporting and tracking capabilities have ramped up considerably. Many CRM providers offer ways to track every call or internet visitor coming in based on specialized toll-free phone numbers or landing pages. By researching these reports, management is better able to determine which campaigns and ads are driving the most results. One of the top “right now” trends in this area is using Google Maps to plot phone ups and ad responses to determine which ads are working best in which location.

Test and track bulk emails lists to determine best campaigns

We’ve heard from marketing gurus forever that testing of ad campaigns, key words, and offers are the key to making our marketing dollars work smarter, not harder. However, up until now the process of testing has been complicated and time-consuming. Some of the more progressive CRM packages now make it easy for dealerships to test a variety of different messages, headlines, and offers to see which most resonates with customers. Follow-up and lead reports help managers craft the right message to drive action with the least cost.

While these ideas represent just four areas where CRM systems have evolved, there are countless other ways to use your system to find, market, and sell to customers. If you haven’t taken a test drive through your CRM system recently, I would encourage you to do so. Many of the top CRM systems now offer ways to target, market, and report to customers in a way we never dreamed of just a few years ago.

Matt Buchanan is the dealer principal at Sarasota Ford and co-founder of Dealers United, An upcoming deal offered through the company is expected to include CRM providers. To become a member of Dealers United at no cost, visit

Matt Buchanan


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