The process of choosing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool can be a daunting task, and understanding the full scope of benefits it brings to the dealership can be difficult to determine. For those unfamiliar, dealers can use CRM systems to compile data on their customers to improve both their sales and customer support.

IronHQ Product Specialist with Iron Solutions (based in Franklin, Tenn.) Randy Tye spoke during a North American Equipment Dealers Assn. (NAEDA) webinar hosted by Farm Equipment and walked them through some key benefits. IronHQ is a dealership CRM tool from Iron Solutions.

1. Helping your sales team become hunters

Tye points to a CRM’s ability to turn a dealership from gatherers into hunters as a lead generation tool. He’s an advocate for not using a CRM system as a place to track details but as a tool for making more money.

“If you can show a young, aggressive salesman how we find different information and who they should go see, it’s always a very popular discussion and a popular reason to use the product,” he says. 

Tye points specifically to listing prospects as a useful tool for the sales department (see image below). “This is one I used extensively as a salesman over my years and encouraged all the salesmen I managed and worked with going forward after that to use this, and it’s called ‘my prospects,’” he says. “It’s almost like a whiteboard for all the different people I’ve got looking for things. And it doesn’t have to be that they’re looking for something to buy. As you can see, I have some coded in here. This is the list of people that I've come across over the last 12 months that this upcoming season I should talk to him about demonstrating a baler, for example. Or I want to invite them to a combine clinic or a hay tool clinic.”

By keeping a list of prospects and their information, your sales team can do away with notebooks and tracking down contact information that was written down a while ago. Source: Iron Solutions

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A CRM system can also allow salespeople to set up notifications for when certain equipment is brought in that might be a good fit for sales prospects. Some CRM systems also have apps available that can allow salespeople to manage their prospect list while out of the office — if they are at a farm show, for example, and meet someone looking for a used combine.

“It’s a really nice tool when you have somebody looking for something from 4 stores over,” he says. “You can find out that we could be looking at one. And maybe with some encouragement you can get the help and get the deal done. You’ll know where to take it and you’ll know what to quote the guy.”

2. Making more use of your data

Tye says a CRM system also helps dealerships make use of the data they collect, such as posting a dealership’s sales prices against Iron Guide. “Good data will help the sales side if management is making good decisions to help us sell more,” he says.

Tye constructed the following chart to help dealers determine how they learn to price their used combines.

Dealers can use their CRM system to track their sales over time (black dots) and measure them against the industry (orange line). Source: Iron Solutions

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“Here they took a certain model combine and a certain year combine, posted all their sales and compared them to what the Iron Guide said it was worth,” he says. “This orange line is what the trade guide said the cash value of this machine was on a quarterly basis, and it runs from 2014 to 2020 by the quarter. And you can see where our sales of that same product were compared to earlier on in its life of the Iron Guides.”

Dealers can see where they’ve sold above Iron Guide prices and use that to determine their pricing goals, Tye says, as well as forecast where industry pricing will be to estimate what prices they should be purchasing at.

3. Better OEM relationships through reports

Another benefit is how a CRM system can help improve the relationship between a dealer and its OEMs. He tells the story of how generating reports out of a CRM was able to improve relations with a manufacturers rep.

“I started with the dealership I was at about 10 years ago,” he says. “And it seemed like every Friday afternoon the local territory sales manager would call me and say, ‘What have we got on the go for product?’ And you’d spend quite a bit of time trying to dig through the deals and what’s going on then filter them just to his product and so on.”

A solution Tye found was generating reports specific to that manager’s product on a weekly basis, including every quote from each salesperson.

“Weekly reports of new branded units being quoted is just one example. But it made us money because when that TSM had a target unpublished program to get 5 more balers by the end of the quarter, he knew exactly which salesman to call,” he says. “He didn’t have to call me. He knew that salesman XYZ was quoting a baler, so he’d pick up the phone and he said, ‘Hey, do you need any help on this? I got an extra $5,000 from a target program, would that close the deal?’ I truly believe that kind of communication created more business, closed more deals and made us a better partner with our OEM.”

4. Attracting talent

As a piece of modern technology, the CRM tool can help make a new salesperson’s introduction to the business less daunting than how it was done previously.

“In the old days — I’ve been through it — they would give you a price book and a pickup truck and told you to go find some business,” Tye says. “‘Get out there, young man, you’ll do fine.’ What was our success rate with that? What was the confidence level of our salesman? How long did we retain him until he got fed up and pulled his hair out? Or we fired him because he didn’t sell anything? But we didn't realize he didn't know the area or what was going on.”

Tye explained that with a CRM system, a new salesperson gets a laptop with information on all the customers in his area, all the equipment those customers own and their buying history. With this and other information, that introductory period to the job can be much less stressful and result in better retention.

“He’s going to look at marketing options, where he could be doing some direct mailing, or callouts to the people that own a certain machine,” Tye says. “He’ll have all the advantages and ease of building a quote with structure and timely communication with the team. So you don’t have this young salesman who’s trying to get the boss to tell them what percentage is supposed to be in a new Magnum compared to a new baler.

“We spend millions of dollars on our service department to keep them there with proper tools and training. And unfortunately, we lag in what we spend on our sales department to give these young people the tools they need to go forward and be good, strong salesmen to make us a good, strong dealership.”

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