Editor's Note: This is part III of an ongoing series of columns by an Internet expert and auto dealer.)

For Internet Auto Dealer 3.0, customer-relationship management systems becomes the bridge between marketing and sales.

CRM gives the sales department a glimpse into what marketing has done and promised the customer so that the sales force will deliver on that promise and drive the experience the customer is expecting down to the showroom level.

CRM plays a pivotal role in the bi-directional communication that is needed for sales and marketing to work together, as CRM captures interactions between customer and the sales department. It gives marketers valuable insight on what drives the desired behavior at the top and the middle of the sales funnel.

For the IAD3.0 sales force, the CRM system becomes a daily work schedule and contact management system.

There is shift in which sales people stay at their desks much of the time on the computer and on the phone answering questions, taking inbound calls and calling customers back with information, blogging and connecting with customers on Facebook.

This is a stark contrast to dealers who can't get the floor traffic out of their heads.

IAD3.0 CRM has fast and easy access to vehicle listings and templates for sales people to email vehicle information to customers. Sales staffers become more customer-service people and less deal negotiators.

The CRM system is the central repository of all the dealership product content customer needs and notes. This system need to evolve to work with the marketing department to segment customers based on their situations such as:

  • Not ready to buy now.
  • Couldn't buy due to credit issues.
  • Couldn't buy due to negative equity.
  • Bought elsewhere.

Each of these customer segments tell marketing people what cadence to send messages to the various customers and what the content should be about.

All this data ends up in the dealerships relational marketing database. This database is differs from the CRM transactional database in that it uses the customer's relationship to the dealership to define its hierarchy, then the customer's relationship to the transaction to define activation/cadence and then customer transactions to define content.

The relational marketing database becomes the foundation for targeted outbound communications and marketing and for defining your dealership market area, competitive focus and Follow-up.

IAD3.0 Selling System

This year marks the beginning of the end for “the desk” in the dealership, due to price transparency and proliferation of the Internet. It now falls on the marketing department to position the price of a vehicle relative to the market.

Market the dealership and the vehicle properly to generate demand and work with the sales department to drive a consistent quality experience that gets the customer what they want, when they want it, the way they want it and at a competitive price.

The deskman is now the coordinator of consistent follow-up contact. He or she is a quality control manager and chief customer problem solver. The desk manger skill set shifts from deal negotiations to customer service.

IAD3.0 Finance

Time has become the new currency of the car business. No longer will your customers allow you to take hours to sell them a car. Most already know what they want, have done most of the research and know pretty much what they want to pay.

Now financing will go online for IAD3.0 as well.

The customer will fill out a secure credit application online this will automatically go through DealerTrack or RouteOne. The dealership will work to get those customers that require further work if quick loan approval is not forthcoming..

Marketing expert Larry Bruce is a partner in MotorTrendsOnline.com and a dealership partner in the GM Sanddollar Autoplex.

Questions or comments about this column? Send us an e-mail at Dealers@wardsauto.com.