CRM in the auto business. Sales department 2.0.

23 April 2018

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CRM in the auto business. Sales department 2.0.

Before working in IT, I spent almost 5 years in the auto business, therefore, my first article in the blog will be about it. And, more precisely, it will be about how it is possible and necessary to redefine the work of an automobile dealership to a qualitatively new level using technology and knowledge acquired over the years in web development.

 Where do we start? Of course, we’ll begin with the problems that arise when working in an automobile dealership with both managers and owners of this business. Many other issues exist in other spheres. Some are quite specific and require an understanding of the internal processes of work in an automobile dealership. 

My list of questions and problems on this matter is as follows:

1. How to properly work with sources which supply potential buyers, analyse their success and build a system of sales according to them?

2. How to convert the increase of incoming requests into real sales?

3. How to understand at what stage and for what reason the largest number of potential buyers is lost?

4. How to minimize the possible impact of the human factor on success of business?

5. How to systematize all complex processes and avoid possible errors in management?

6. How to properly work with the customer base, analyse it, set up appropriate marketing strategies and advertising campaigns?

7. How to avoid using a huge number of different tools on which a lot of time is spent in vain? (Viber, Skype, Google Docs, 1C, etc.)

8. And of course - how will all this make it possible to earn more?))

 All these issues are usually decided by means of strict regulations, dictatorial regimes and total control. But as it turned out, there is a better and more modern variant which does not involve the burning of irresponsible managers on the fires of inquisition))). The solution is, of course, a CRM system!


Let's figure out where the potential buyers come from. As far as emotional accomplishment and complexity in making a decision goes, buying a car has always been considered the second most important step, after buying a home. This meant that before making the purchase, a customer needed to touch the product, sit in the car, go for a test drive, etc… And the sales manager had to demonstrate the advantages of his product as effectively as possible while necessarily creating a strong feeling for the customer — the atmosphere of being the owner of that car.

As the latest practice shows, even the automobile business is increasingly moving to the plane of Internet sales. The buyer takes decision about the car online and frantically searches on countless websites for optimal options to acquire the car of his dreams. First of all, he is interested in finding the car with the right color and configurations. But his interest mostly lies in other concerns— favourable conditions for his purchase: discounts, promotions, gifts and other goodies. People are no longer ready to make purchases without pleasant add-ons. What should automobile dealerships do in such a situation?


The correct option in this situation, in my opinion, is to create a "virtual automobile showroom."

This can easily be an ordinary web site. Or multiple web sites. Or a website and several landing pages for unique offers. Social networking must be worked on seriously and on a mandatory basis. Facebook and Instagram should be used to make your job easier. You must focus on making “all roads lead to Rome.”

To make sure that they all eventually end up in Rome, you need to create a series of triggers: feedback forms, hotlines, free consultations on credit conditions, bonus coupons, etc.. and I'm sure your marketing specialist knows many more)).

You can also make good use of newsletters via SMS and mail on the existing customer base, as well as on potential buyers base. This is a serious way to increase the incoming flow. “Welcome Days”, test drives of updated flagship product, children's holiday — you can invent more than enough newsworthy events.

Your CRM and its marketing module will be your irreplaceable partners. You do not need to work with different programs, download customer databases, manually enter answers to the newsletters. All these things are already automated and convenient to use in one single program. With the help of CRM, you can conduct analytics of marketing companies and make quick and correct decisions regarding advertising strategies at any time of the day.


Now we come to one of the most important questions of the whole article — how to achieve the maximum conversion of this flow. This is one of the main functions of the CRM system.

First, you can configure almost all the sources of incoming requests. They will automatically enter the system and create so-called "leads" (potential buyers). Customers entering the automobile showroom can be entered manually, after leaving their contacts to the manager for instance, or during a test drive.

By default, all leads are placed in the "Unallocated" tab in the responsibility of the sales manager (or other specialist responsible for the distribution of leads in the CRM). It is then necessary to analyse the essence of the request, its specificity and allocate a suitable sales manager to work with each potential buyer. This process can be automated (queues, proportions in the distribution). You can also make a “common pool” and allow managers to quickly catch “Next customer, please!”. In sales, it is as any port in the storm, all methods are good. The result is the main goal. 

To work with leads, you need to create a list of stages/statuses of sales. This will allow the head of the department to see the number of leads in work, what stages they are at, who the manager is and much more at any given time. The list might look like this: 

  1. Undistributed leads;

  2. Defining which manager to put in charge;

  3. Communication with customer;

  4. Processing the request/selecting a car;

  5. Commercial offer;

  6. Following the customer/up-thinking

  7. And the Success, in fact. Or a deal.

At any stage, for each lead, negotiations can be completed without success. The reasons can be different — unacceptable price, unsuitable loan conditions, dislike of test drive and more. In CRM, it is possible to close the lead with an accurate indication of the reason. This information, by the way, is much more useful for your analysis than the data on successful sales. You strive to increase them, don’t you?

To visualize the work with leads and statuses of their processing, the principle of the Kanban methodology is used, namely, the “Board”.
It looks something like this:

For each negotiation stage or processing status, a separate column is used. The lead created in the system (about which we previously agreed) is displayed in the form of an index car containing all the useful informations. The full history of correspondence with the customer, calls and comments of the manager are saved inside. Calls can be and should be recorded. This will provide an opportunity to analyse possible problems and shortcomings in the work of your sales department in more detail.

With a subtle motion of the hand, the lead turns into... a sale! It is dragged from one status to another. At the last stage, the system makes it possible to create a contact in the customer base and also to add the deal with certain parameters.


In order to optimize the work with the sales funnel, you can/must write clear rules and train your entire department. For instance, every new lead must be processed within 30 minutes. After that, a specially configured robot will send a notification to the manager with a reminder to make a call. Half an hour later, the head will receive such a notification. This will allow you to spend less time on monitoring since the system will itself notify about possible delays and other problem issues.

The main point here is to use CRM without fail and to work only under the stipulated regulations. Violators should be punished, because order is our everything in modern sales. Of course, there are more pleasant and loyal methods of influencing employees. You need to demonstrate with real life examples why using a sales system is beneficial to them. Everyone wants to earn more and so do your salespeople. If they are, of course, good salespeople. If not, maybe you should find others who are ready to work under new conditions, in the modern market of active sales.

Adaptation to the conditions and readiness for changes are much more important than the original plan. The faster you understand your mistakes and correct them, the better it is for your business.


But that is not all. Getting the deal is not the only thing that matters. The entire process of buying a car — processing documents, pre-sale preparation, installation of additional equipment should be as pleasant and transparent for the customer to the maximum. Everything should work clearly like a clock. In this issue, the CRM system will be helpful again. 

The documentation of a car has a number of stages, and each of them is just as important. Let's go through each of them and decide how to use the system: 

  1. Car ordering and delivery control.
    You and the customer have an agreement with the prescribed terms of delivery. The system will remind you about the terms.

     2.Submission of documents for a loan.
Such a simple issue, for some reason, becomes a big problem for many managers. CRM will create checklists (lists) of required documents for submission to the bank, whether it is an individual person or a company. Thus, it's enough just to exclude the human factor —  to forbid sending the application without full execution of the check-list and attached documents. Create a checklist confirmation system by a credit manager.

      3. Additional equipment of the car.
For those who do not know, I will open the curtain of secrecy: an automobile dealership earns on “add-ons” even more than on the sale of the car itself. If you are hoping for the responsibility and motivation of the manager “to sell add-ons", a part of your potential earnings hangs in the air. But we will overcome this as well. We create a list of additional equipment for each car, detailed description and marketing advantages. The manager receives the list in the form of a check list and marks each item. All options are shown, not only the items that he managed to sell to the customer. The  information about what he failed to sell and for what reason are also present. Perhaps you should revise the price for non-genuine windshield wipers)).

       4. And of course the delivery of the car to the customer.
For many of your customers, this is the first new car their life. They are waiting for this day with impatience, take a day off at work, put on a festive suit. You just do not have the right to ruin such a day!

        5. The system will make it possible to clearly write down the entire list of actions to be taken in preparation for the delivery as well as during the process.


Despite everything we have said you need to understand one very important point: CRM is not a pill to resolve all your problems. Wrong or insufficient use of it will not bring the desired result. But nevertheless, CRM is the only correct way, the basis for building a sales system and lifting your business to a new quality level.

I sincerely hope that this article will be of use to you. I wish you cosmic sales and satisfied customers.

Oh yeah ... If suddenly you need help in setting up a similar system in your automobile dealerships — I can approach a very cool team.

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