A Q&A with BDC Expert Sara Shabana

Given our post-peak sales in 2017, and with 2018 showing no signs of an upward swing, generating quality leads has become more critical than ever for the health and profitability of dealerships.

Here, BDC Builder Founder Sara Shabana shares tips on some of the ways that dealers can capitalize on quality lead generation through CRM best practices, as well as what’s to come from an industry perspective.

From your BDC perspective, what are the missed opportunities dealers are facing in this current sales climate when it comes to their CRM?

Dealers are facing a plethora of missed opportunities when it comes to their CRM. Failing to enter information, neglecting social media, and not understanding how to take advantage of the CRM are common problems that can be avoided.

CRMs provide dealers with a very sophisticated engine designed to assist with customer follow-up at all stages of the buying process and the customer lifecycle. However, CRMs can’t facilitate following up with clients without the proper data. Dealers miss opportunities when they don’t input customer data and take the time to ensure the information is correct and accurate.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that salespeople don’t add prospects into the system. And even when they do, they leave out vital information such as email addresses, they list cell phone numbers as home numbers (which prevents follow-through using text messages), and they may skip other seemingly small details. But it’s often the little things that make a huge difference when it comes to capturing opportunities and following through on leads.

On top of that, social media is a huge missed opportunity for many dealers. For example, dealers should respond to negative reviews on sites such as Yelp or Google, because with appropriate communication they can often change customers’ minds (and their reviews) about the quality of their service. Even the simple action of reaching out can make a big difference.

By applying simple techniques such as entering customer contact information, ensuring it is correct and in the proper field, and updating status accordingly, dealers will be able to connect with and follow up with more customers. Which means they will capture more sales and service business.

How should modern CRM technology be leveraged to best communicate with customers?

As an industry, we must leverage modern technology, such as CRM and social media, to help us sell and service more cars, instead of resisting new technology. Customers today have a much shorter attention span – almost like a goldfish! – than in the past, with their busy schedules, constant connections to devices, and more distractions than ever before. Great CRM technologies in the industry, such as VinSolutions’ Connect CRM, allow dealers to make every customer connection count in this ever-changing environment.

Dealers must customize follow-up communications to remain more in touch with customers and their preferences. For example, texting is one of the most preferred methods today, followed by email or phone calls in popularity. Pairing up “happy birthday” wishes and customizing a note that it might be time to purchase a new vehicle works well; this certainly is better than bland, generic follow-up messages.

By combining customization with modern CRM technology, dealers enhance their approach, and greatly strengthen customer engagement to build better relationships to make more sales and service strides.

What do you enjoy most about the auto retail industry?

The car sales business is one of the most exciting industries in the country right now, especially communicating with customers and hitting business goals. I consider myself a student of the industry, always striving to learn and hungry to move up to the next level and find more effective ways to sell cars and service. My goal is to deliver world-class service and the best possible customer experience. I encourage all the dealers that I work with to take a similar approach, and part of my monthly strategy is to set new benchmarks for both professional and personal growth.

I’m very excited about the industry convening to discuss best practices in the ever-changing auto sales environment. I plan to appear at many industry gatherings this year. As always, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to connect with so many great people in this industry that I love.

I’m sure that one of the big topics that will be discussed at these events is the future of the car salesperson. Considering the influx of AI and autonomous technology developments, the question everyone is asking is, “Will the customer have an appetite to purchase a car in the future?”

Considering that their vehicle is probably the second largest investment for a consumer, there will always be a need for great salespeople to assist them with this massive purchase. Technology can and will supplement these interactions, but will not replace the salesperson. Humans, after all, want and demand that personal touchpoint during the sales process.

There is great change happening in auto retail. The industry should be excited by these changes, and face them head on together to create a better customer experience.

About Sara Shabana

Sara Shabana is the founder of BDC Builder. She has over 10 years of auto industry experience and is an expert in BDC and SEM.