Managing your sales team in the age of CRMs, DMSs, ILMs, and other dealership technologies can be both difficult and rewarding. On the one hand, many of your store's processes can be automated, which saves time by decreasing redundancies. On the other, these programs can be expensive, hard to learn/implement, and, as is the case with most technology, can unintentionally build a disconnect between your managers and salespeople. In many cases, managers rely so much on technology that they begin to "manage by wire."
In the last 20 years, the much of the industry has shifted from paper-based systems to robust CRMs that will do everything short of tying your shoes. But if it's true that "my CRM does everything for me," then why are closing and salesperson retention rates the same as they were 20 years ago? The answer is simple: technology doesn't replace leadership.
This is not to say that technology is unnecessary; indeed, thousands of dealerships have increased efficiency and performance thanks to various dealership systems. But that hasn't necessarily translated into more sales. Those that have actually improved sales revenues consistently are the ones that understand what their technologies will do and, more importantly, what they won't do.
Technology is no substitute for leadership.
Your CRM can gather, sort, and spit out all kinds of data from your salespeople, but it can't manage them. It doesn't know how to motivate them, what they're good at, what they need to improve on, and how to help them reach their full potential. The most successful dealerships know that their people, not their technologies, have the biggest impact on the bottom line.
Information is power.
Dealership technologies are most effective when the information put into them is accurate. That's not exactly a surprise. But data can be easily skewed, exaggerated, or just plain wrong if the information is inconsistent or incomplete. For example, if a salesperson talks to 50 prospects in a month, but only inputs the 15 write-ups into the CRM, his closing ratio will be extremely inflated. In general, the more information you input into your CRM, the better. Because you can't follow-up with prospects that slip through the cracks.
It's the process that matters.
Whether your dealership uses old-school logbooks or the latest-and-greatest CRM, having a consistent process for managing information makes all the difference. Do you have procedures in place to gather, organize, and use customer information appropriately? The latter is critical, since it has the biggest impact on your bottom line. Any dealership can assemble and sort heaps of data, but those that use it to increase productivity, follow-up with customers, and improve their salespeople have the greatest success.
In the digital dealership age, managers should treat their technology like they would a salesperson: manage to its strengths, be aware of its weaknesses, and drive it to its full potential.