By Howard Leavitt
How do Dealers and Managers know what technology will work in their dealerships in today’s market? In some cases they are prompted by OEMs to adopt a specific application or software. The OEMs choose technology not based not on the needs of the dealers, but to satisfy the OEMs needs and wants. As Dealers and Managers you must understand the needs of your dealership and do your due diligence in determining what technology works best for you.
My first encounter with sales technology happened in 1983 when I was the Sales Manager for a Jaguar Dealer in New York. We were calculating leases manually on legal pads. Each time the prospect changed the variables we would have to recalculate using paper and a basic hand held calculator. With this archaic method, it could have been 1930!
Except for the model changes, nothing in figuring the deal was any different than it had been decades before. The owner at the time was not interested in investing in new technologies. He was content with calculating the multiple variables within multiple calculations on paper. The strange part was he was ahead of most in adapting to DMS technology for accounting, service and parts operations. So why not bring in those same technologies to the sales process?
I complained to the Parts Director who suggested Alpha Calc, which led to a crash course on how to use what was really Lotus 123. Within a day I built a spreadsheet that gave us the ability to calculate retail finance and open-end leases in seconds versus long laborious minutes before. What a dynamic change in Desking the deals!
We needed an advantage and we had it for a while. We did not win every deal but we quoted every prospect. Contact management was done on paper using the NADA Sales Track System. So now we could produce quotes quickly, but with one terminal and no way to save the calculation we were back to saving the quotes on paper up sheets.
That was then – and this process, which was so advanced for us at the time, now seems so archaic. Dealers today want more, they want it faster, and they want it better. Keeping quotes and contact information together is simply the basic process of all sales applications. But can they digest all that is in the market place?
There are many bells and whistles, and they are all enticing:
- Dynamic tracking of prospects shopping patterns
- Mobility on the lot and away from the dealership
- Regional inventory values
- Response times for follow up
- Valued reporting of the sales staff, and so much more
Implementing new technology to enhance your sales process is crucial, but the trick is to select technology that only aids the process, not adds to the manager’s workload.
You as the Dealer and the Sales Manager must decide what you need to increase sales and customer relationships. Once that is done you can then determine what technology works for you and that can be managed effectively in your dealership. Find the need, then find the application, then adapt and win more sales.
Howard Leavitt is the founder of AutoRaptor CRM. With over 40 years of experience and with a strong reputation as one of the most accomplished retail managers on the U.S. automotive scene, he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge and leadership experience to help dealers down the path to success. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.