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Latest thoughts on CRM vendors

May 28, 2009
22
4
Awards
1
First Name
Brad
I realize this is a loaded question, but as of today, if you could and had the stomach for it, which CRM would you move to? Asking for a friend (He seems really frustrated with his current long time vendor) :)
 
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ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
337
312
First Name
Christian
I have a special place in my heart for XRM. Very versatile, I was able to dive DEEP into reports, activity levels, the task bar on EVERY Page, displaying unresponded leads, unopened emails, etc. If I had to do the painful task of swapping CRMs, that's who I'd like to switch back to.
 

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
307
292
Awards
1
First Name
Dan
@Brad Burlingham I've had DealerSocket, eLead, and now VinSolutions. I selected DealerSocket in 2011 because of their ILM capability as well as customer life-cycle ability at the time. They ended up a little lost and most of the needed "upgrades" in those following years came in the form of paint and curtains instead of needed core development improvements. We had a couple customer life-cycle campaigns derail horribly and then I moved to eLead (under threat of contract lawsuit from DealerSocket). eLead blew a lot of smoke at the time and ultimately couldn't deliver on a lot of their sales promise, specifically managing customer life-cycle and reporting.

I did another round of demos in 2016 between Vin and new-comer Drive Centric. Very organized demoes for all stores and both targeted demos for Sales people and managers separately. I had a scoring for all employees and sales people overwhelmingly chose Drive Centric and managers overwhelmingly chose VinSolutions. I didn't make a decision because I ended up leaving the group at the end of that demo process (I didn't want to sign them up and leave LOL). I would have chosen Drive Centric because I knew that if sales people were engaged, that was 80% of the win.

While I was away from the group and working for Dealer Inspire I was able to get logins for many clients' CRMs and my eyes were definitely opened. Two things were revealed. No one was using their CRM correctly and no CRM was perfect. My former group ended up signing VinSolutions during that time. I was asked to return to my former group a couple years later and landed back in a role that included CRM admin. I'm not a fan of VinSolutions and honestly any OG CRM that seems to have layers upon layers of updates upon updates that don't even fully integrate with prior versions.

If you ever go to a NADA show again, sneak to the back of the booths where all the devs hide out and ask them to explain what they'd like to fix in the CRM (I did this and it was amazing the truth you get from a dev vs. sales). They'll explain to you the different pieces that have been hacked together over the years with a certain mix of frustration and acquiescence that they continue to build around instead of starting over.

If/When I make a change, it would be to Drive Centric at this point as they seem to have started developing from a base of the USER. The only thing keeping me on VinSolutions is our rep can fill the gaps. If he leaves, we leave.
 

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
337
312
First Name
Christian
Drive Centric demo'd nice, I knew someone that used to work there. One of the things that really turned me off, aside from their higher price, was when the sales rep was calling the store, pretending to be one of our group's owner's to get through to our GM.
 

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
3,026
1,790
Awards
1
First Name
Alex
My apologies to the older DealerRefresh community who is probably tired of me opining on CRMs. I've had a sick fascination with them since I met my first one in 1999.

This time, I'm simply going to say that technology is a product of the time when the foundation is built. Escaping that foundation requires a complete overhaul and I only know of one company who has pulled it off. Too bad the visionary behind it has such a teeter-tottering personality. One other company has done a good job at adding enough to stay relevant and they're the only one left from the 90s. Although their new owner may destroy that.

1990s = replacement for pink sheet task scheduling for sales people. AKA a babysitter tool.
Noteworthy CRMs that came out in the 90s: Autotown, original ADP CRM (not made by ADP), HigherGear, AutoBase, and eLead

2000s = bringing the manager into the system and figuring out how to accommodate internet leads.
Noteworthy ILMs: Cowboy (later became a CRM), Webcontrol, iCarMagic (later became iMagicLab and is now CRM Suite)
Noteworthy CRMs: VinSolutions, DealerSocket, Reynolds Contact Management, XRM, Dealer Peak, ProMax, AutoRaptor

2010s = the full baking of CRMs as we know them today. Not much more innovation, but a lot of consolidation. Some more integrations.
Noteworthy CRMs: Drive Centric, Dealer.com CRM

In my opinion automotive CRM systems have joined DMS systems in the "archaic" classification. Many are too bloated to keep up with the new needs dealers have today and something will disrupt this market. Will digital retailing players be the ones to do? Will website providers do it? It makes the most sense to put those 3 genres together, but only from the right foundations.

Matt Watson used to add new features to his CRM every week. I likened it to started with a trailer in the trailer park, that he hammered another trailer onto to make a double-wide. Then he put one on top and had a second story trailer. Then he put brick on it and made it look like a house. And then he added more floors. But when the tornado raged through the trailer park it was still a trailer in the trailer park. The brick houses next door didn't get blown over.
 
May 28, 2009
22
4
Awards
1
First Name
Brad
@Brad Burlingham I've had DealerSocket, eLead, and now VinSolutions. I selected DealerSocket in 2011 because of their ILM capability as well as customer life-cycle ability at the time. They ended up a little lost and most of the needed "upgrades" in those following years came in the form of paint and curtains instead of needed core development improvements. We had a couple customer life-cycle campaigns derail horribly and then I moved to eLead (under threat of contract lawsuit from DealerSocket). eLead blew a lot of smoke at the time and ultimately couldn't deliver on a lot of their sales promise, specifically managing customer life-cycle and reporting. I did another round of demos in 2016 between Vin and new-comer Drive Centric. Very organized demoes for all stores and both targeted demos for Sales people and managers separately. I had a scoring for all employees and sales people overwhelmingly chose Drive Centric and managers overwhelmingly chose VinSolutions. I didn't make a decision because I ended up leaving the group at the end of that demo process (I didn't want to sign them up and leave LOL). I would have chosen Drive Centric because I knew that if sales people were engaged, that was 80% of the win. While I was away from the group and working for Dealer Inspire I was able to get logins for many clients' CRMs and my eyes were definitely opened. Two things were revealed. No one was using their CRM correctly and no CRM was perfect. My former group ended up signing VinSolutions during that time. I was asked to return to my former group a couple years later and landed back in a role that included CRM admin. I'm not a fan of VinSolutions and honestly any OG CRM that seems to have layers upon layers of updates upon updates that don't even fully integrate with prior versions. If you ever go to a NADA show again, sneak to the back of the booths where all the devs hide out and ask them to explain what they'd like to fix in the CRM (I did this and it was amazing the truth you get from a dev vs. sales). They'll explain to you the different pieces that have been hacked together over the years with a certain mix of frustration and acquiescence that they continue to build around instead of starting over.

If/When I make a change, it would be to Drive Centric at this point as they seem to have started developing from a base of the USER. The only thing keeping me on VinSolutions is our rep can fill the gaps. If he leaves, we leave.
thanks Dan. do you have anyone at DC that you like that might be good to reach out to?
 
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Jul 17, 2020
2
1
First Name
David
I'm just throwing this out there... With the foreign money that owns these big money CRM's nowadays you should consider some of the smaller companies who care about the customer more than their bottom line and their numbers at the end of the month. Many of us are family owned businesses who care more than you can imagine. It's gotten pretty nasty out there with the contracts dealers are asked to sign just to appease stockholders and the fight they'll put you through if you aren't happy with their software after a few months.. The quality of support is more of a consideration than it used to be so I implore all of you to look beyond whats "popular" simply due to their unlimited advertising budgets creating the mindshare that they have even though their product really isn't better and what I can tell we can all see here is older tech.. When you want a new feature or tweak just for your store alone you're looking at a dev cycle done by contract programmers in India that's 14 months out rather than next week done by folks that could be your neighbors.. Without being selfish promoting my own company I'll ask you guys to take a look at my competitors who I respect, DealerPeak and Votenza. Both of their platforms are excellent.
 
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Feb 6, 2021
2
1
First Name
Cayley
I'm just throwing this out there... With the foreign money that owns these big money CRM's nowadays you should consider some of the smaller companies who care about the customer more than their bottom line and their numbers at the end of the month. Many of us are family owned businesses who care more than you can imagine. It's gotten pretty nasty out there with the contracts dealers are asked to sign just to appease stockholders and the fight they'll put you through if you aren't happy with their software after a few months.. The quality of support is more of a consideration than it used to be so I implore all of you to look beyond whats "popular" simply due to their unlimited advertising budgets creating the mindshare that they have even though their product really isn't better and what I can tell we can all see here is older tech.. When you want a new feature or tweak just for your store alone you're looking at a dev cycle done by contract programmers in India that's 14 months out rather than next week done by folks that could be your neighbors.. Without being selfish promoting my own company I'll ask you guys to take a look at my competitors who I respect, DealerPeak and Votenza. Both of their platforms are excellent.
David working with a local company can be a game changer. Support is better because they know you better and can relate to your struggles.
We all deal with the same regulations and challenges so we have solidarity in the fight for business.

I’d love to see what you are working on.
 
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