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ADP Talks Technology, the Streamlined Sales Process

December 2006, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Gregory Arroyo - Also by this author

This month, F&I magazine talks to Auto Data System Inc. (ADP)’s product marketing team about new products, future challenges for dealers and about how technology is working to streamline the sales process. Lending their insightful views are Senior Director of Product Marketing Mark Przybylski, who focuses on ADP’s CRM, digital marketing and vehicle management products, and Chris Woerner, whose efforts are focused on the transaction between the sales desk and F&I department.

Q: Profitability for your dealership customers is your No. 1 goal, but you guys are attempting to achieve that from two distinct, yet linked, segments inside the dealership. So, how’s that transition work?

Przybylski: Our focus is helping dealers profitably sell cars, parts and service. ADP is doing this by focusing on three specific areas: helping dealers take advantage of the Internet, streamlining the sales process and helping them find and keep satisfied customers. The key is for dealers to collect the data required in the sales process only once, and being able to use it wherever it is needed throughout the sales process.

Woerner: Capturing the data once and enabling it wherever it is needed is definitely a key focus of ours. For example, we’ve recently introduced functionality that helps the dealer process a credit application faster. However, where a credit application is processed during the sales process varies by dealer. So, we will enable that feature in various places, such as CRM, the Web site, as well as using it in F&I. Similarly, vehicle presentation capabilities available on the Web site may also be applicable for the sales manager, which means we need to make that available with our desking application. It all comes down to providing a set of tools that fits the dealer’s process.

Q: Obviously, the ultimate goal is to cut down on the time it takes to get a customer through the sales process. Dealers say the key to achieving this is a smoother handoff between the front-end and F&I department while maintaining a high CRM. What are you guys seeing?

Woerner: We went out and did some market research around the transaction to see why it takes three hours to buy a car. We wanted to identify the areas dealers thought they could improve. Most dealers said the sales negotiation cycle was one area they like to see shortened. So helping dealers improve in that aspect is my main focus.

Przybylski: We’re also working on a couple of items that’ll lead to improvements; incremental enhancements that, when incorporated into the process, will streamline the overall transaction. First is single-source data entry, and really making it easy for front-line salespeople to input each sales opportunity. This data is then available for every user and for each subsequent step in the sales process. What we’re doing today is integrating data from all sources where a dealer identifies a sales opportunity. This includes not only leads from the showroom or from the salesperson entering customer information, but from inbound phone calls and the Internet.

Tools that make it easy for a front-line salesperson to accurately input information are vital to a dealership. An easy way to accomplish this is to scan a driver’s license, or to perform a reverse phone lookup. Salespeople commonly ask customers for their phone number in order to provide additional information and to follow up. They can enter the customer’s phone number, and, through a permission-based system, have all the collected information automatically populate the system. The information then carries forward with more information being collected throughout the sales process.

Q: I’m sure during your research you’ve come across some pretty bad processes. Do you have any examples?

Woerner: Yes, but you’re going to make me indict my customers. We saw some interesting uses and non-uses of credit data in the quoting process. In our interviews, some sales managers told us, “I always quote prime rate and let my F&I manager deal with it.” So what ends up happening is F&I managers end up biting into their reserves and back-end gross just to get the deal done. Or worse yet, they end up with a deal that there’s no way in God’s green earth could ever be bought.

Przybylski: Let me come at it in a slightly different way. Bad data capture or data recording practices will quickly undermine your ability to keep loyal customers by limiting the effectiveness of your customer contact process. The result is your CSI is adversely affected. We offer solutions that help keep that data fresh. As an example, people move frequently. In fact, 16 percent of the population moves in a year, which means one sixth of your customer data is mobile within a year. Even dealers with airtight processes can’t keep up with that type of change on their own. Yet, it affects overall customer loyalty. We can keep our dealership customers apprised of that so they can stay in touch with those customers, helping to boost customer loyalty.

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