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Was I Too Dumb for CRM?

Discussion in 'CRM, ILM, Chat, Desking, Emails, Phone, SMS' started by john.quinn, May 3, 2018.

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  1. john.quinn

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    In the early aughts, my dealership invested in a CRM system.

    I was basically a sales guy/assistant manager who (quite by accident) had championed/embraced internet leads, and whipped-up an internal lead management system for our 15-store group. I had probably just “graduated” from 100% commission to a salary+bonus pay structure — probably 4-5 years into my automotive career, and was unknowingly building what would later become widely accepted and known as a BDC. So naturally, this CRM thing was my baby. And then, my baby was born.

    I can remember instant regret, remorse, anger — this “thing” and these “trainers” that landed in my dealership didn’t much seem to resemble the system we researched. But alas, here it was, it was here, and I was here.

    Here’s where, in hindsight, I look back and ask, was I that dumb?

    You see, the thought of throwing this thing (CRM) out the door never really occurred to me. The thought of investing time, money, people and then “switching” was never a reality in my mind.

    My mindset was to tear it apart, figure out three things:

    1. What it does well.
    2. What it just “does.”
    3. What it doesn’t do.
    In the process, I was able gain an unexpected reality: I learned and understood the tool better than the people who built it (at least as it pertained to my business).

    I focused the majority of my time on…#1, spent appropriate time on #2, and built relationships to do my best to address #3. I think my business benefitted… I think… I became an SME, so I benefitted…. I think…

    But maybe that’s where I was mistaken? Maybe that was dumb.

    I see a whoooooole lot of “jumping.” Dealers jumping to new systems every couple years. People jumping jobs every couple years, and at big companies, an “Executive Roulette” at leadership positions that propel a constantly evolving strategy to win the market. Change is a constant and powerful thing… soooo many achievements. Seems like there is a real argument to be made for advancement via the opposite of my stated approach.

    This Jumping Reality seems to be a complete 180-degrees from my Tear-it-Apart Reality. I’m not a black & white guy, nor make claims to the existence of right & wrong, good & evil. So I can’t say if one approach is better than the other. Still, with my familiarity more with Tear-it-Apart, naturally I have questions.

    Especially today, with tech and digitally-savvy people all over the dealership (not the case in 2001, I assure you!!), I’m wondering if we’re waaaay too far in the weeds? When I see reasons for jumping, the first question I ask is: how will the opposite help you sell more cars and make more money?

    You see, the most important thing about selling (cars, horses, widgets…) has never changed: take care of our customers. Have a people-centric culture that rewards personnel for achievement, and clients for loyalty. As technical, intricate and sophisticated as we all make it (or want to make it) out to be, it REALLY IS just that simple.

    But when we’re so far in the weeds, are these “issues” blown out of proportion? Once you get this all-important statistic on this report that you just have to have to justify this system’s existence in your dealership, are you going to be better able to take care of your customers or your personnel? Are you REALLY going to be able to make game-changing decisions that sell more cars and streamline your bottom line?

    (Hint: if you’re not addressing the culture thing, then the answer is simply “No.”)

    This might sound a little dark, but I don’t mean it in a bad way: in my 20+ years in automotive, in a variety of roles and examples, I’ve seen little relationship between “strategy” and “pragmatic solution;” the former being a diverse multi-dimensional strategically segmented ergonomical environmentally sustainable moisture avoidance and abatement solution and the latter being an umbrella. The hierarchical structure of most companies places a barrier between many in charge of market strategy and many in charge of execution; the people that manage/lead are generally not the same people who have ever “done.” You might think that the resulting natural system of checks-and-balances produces a stasis when it comes to varying perspectives: “Doer” has a problem with moving the needle on X; “Strategist” is happy with the bottom line – no need for additional investment.

    But what happens when the strategy gets too far in the weeds? Jumping?

    What would happen if strategists adopted “Tear-it-Apart?”

    What happens when academics meets experience?

    I dunno… back to my original question: Was I too dumb for CRM?





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    #1 john.quinn, May 3, 2018
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
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  3. john.quinn

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    We live in the "Speak in the Clown's Face" Culture: Pull up to the clown, order your burger and fries, pull around the corner and your order is waiting for you -- instant gratification, ingrained into every facet of our lives.

    How much of this "Now Now Now" culture affects the decisions we make, from switching jobs to switching tech & vendors? What's better; what's not?
     
  4. Alex Snyder

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    Great question. We have so little patience for the tools that should make our lives easier.

    I can appreciate the mechanic who is on the hunt for the best wrench that feels best in his hand. This is how so many technicians end up with boxes full of high-end tools. But most technicians find the wrench they like for small motors and the one they like for larger jobs, etc. They also know every tool can't be a Snap-On. Just like every tool can't come from Cox, CDK, or some other giant oligarch.

    But how does one find the right tool when the revolving door on the dealership continues to spin? I'd argue that leadership, above the General Manager level, is what's lacking in most of these cases. A vision for the business hasn't been set... or if it has it strays too often in the continuous jump between gross and volume. With vision comes stability and confidence. Vision can only be made by leaders though. And I'll argue further that a visionary leader doesn't even need to be a great operator. He or she should simply be true to the vision. Where are we taking this business? When you know where you're going you know what tools are necessary to get the job done.
     
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  5. john.quinn

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    I gotta disagree. "Vision" is the biggest BS Buzzword in Business. Everybody has a "vision." In today's business culture, execution of "my vision" means that I'm going to hire people to perform tasks. Everyone wants to sit atop the pyramid, tout a "vision," create slogans and mission statements, and hope it all rolls downhill.

    True leadership is just that: LEADING. Doing, performing -- LEAD by example. Show your team, your group, your company how it's gonna get done vs. paying lip service to ideals, goals, (etc) being spouted.
     
  6. Alex Snyder

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    I gotta disagree back. You and I have and will probably always remain on two separate pages when it comes to what we expect out of leadership.
     
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  7. joe.pistell

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    My $0.02.
    A leader's work is seen in the people that he serves... his employees.

    Yea, I said that. The leader serves his employees. Corporate life today is all about looking up the ladder and ass kissing. That's so last century. I believe everyone in the org should reach down to those they serve and mentor them to a higher place.

    A great leader creates a simple but powerful mission that everyone understands (customers and staff). The CEO creates an environment where his/her people feel they are an important part of the mission and they're empowered to make decisions that are in alignment with that mission.

    Where so many CEO's go wrong is the mission becomes a slave to a spreadsheet... the damn spreadsheet, the playground of the MBA zombies. Spreadsheets are a score card, not a business driver. Spreadsheets don't like mentoring or leadership mission statements. Spreadsheets and investors collude to crush the culture the CEO has built. This is what makes me sit in awe of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Both men are blowing the world up with a vision and the chutzpah to beat back the spreadsheet whiners.


    Long Live Leaders with Vision and chutzpah!
     
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  8. john.quinn

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    Uncle Joe... you scare me sometimes... after chewing on this topic for a while, thinking about the qualities of great leaders yesterday, the "willingness to serve" occurred to me as at or near the top.

    Those whose primary mission is to ascend to the top of the pyramid and stay there if/when achieved will never truly understand.
     

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