Company name: TC Motors
Location: Riga, Latvia
Solution: Salesforce Sales Cloud
Latvian-based Subaru, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM dealer. Founded in 1998 and is one of the biggest Subaru dealerships across Baltics.
In this article, I want to share a story of how we’ve built a Salesforce dealer management system. What we did was make automotive CRM software on top of Salesforce. What I love most about this case is the two limitations provided by the customer.
The first limitation was the Salesforce edition. We had to go with the Salesforce Sales Cloud Professional edition, which means we had tiny automation limits available. For us, it was the first experience with the Professional edition. Usually, companies choose Enterprise or Ultimate. Back in the day Automotive Cloud from Salesforce didn’t exist yet, so this was not an option.
The second limitation was budget. The customer was not 100% sure if Salesforce would be a CRM of choice, so he dedicated tiny funding for the trial project. Now the trial project has evolved to a fully pledged CRM automobile.
What is Salesforce dealer management system?
Salesforce dealer management system is standard Salesforce Sales Cloud which is customized to match the process of a car dealership. There is no one-size-fits-all solution on the market available because no two companies manage the process the same way. As a result, there are multiple solutions available worldwide. Companies take them as a starting point to build their automotive CRM.
How we missed the lead
The story started in late February this year (2021). TC Motors’ (Subaru car dealer located in Latvia) general manager left his contact details on our website and guess what has happened? No one from our team has contacted him. Somehow contacts landed into our CRM when everyone in the group was busy with other projects. One of my colleagues, by mistake, has marked the lead as contacted and left it there untouched.
At the beginning of the summer, I was doing a CRM data audit. I noticed a very familiar name in the list of contacts. TC Motors is widely recognized in the local market because its dealership is located on a very traffic-intensive road in Riga city. I’ve immediately picked up the phone and got in touch with the manager, whose name is Dimitry.
From excel to Salesforce
The project started with a discovery session. During the session, we noticed how well TC Motors organized the process via excel. However, even the best excel spreadsheets have their limits. Data in the file was not always appropriately structured and represented only post-factum data. Such data included the number of vehicles sold over the period and financial data for each deal.
The company loved their spreadsheet, but everyone understood that they were missing some critical parts of the process. For instance, the company tracked most leads in developed in-house CRM, which did not provide transparency and reporting over sales rep activities. Moreover, there were no detailed data on the pipeline. Last but not least, the existing setup did not allow preparation and sending of customized offers to the customer.
After we’ve collected all the requirements, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and jumped into structuring excel file and translating it to the architecture of the system. In simple terms, we had to convert an excel file with over a hundred columns into objects and fields in CRM.
Today TC Motors has a fully-pledget Salesforce dealer management system in place and can track their sales, sales rep activity, vehicle lifecycle, and more. But first things first, so let’s jump into more detail.
As with every Sales Cloud implementation, we’ve started with studying how the company manages its leads. It turned out their Leads were landing from all over the place. These sources were both offline, like convention center expositions. And online. Like TC Motors website, Subaru homepage, and social media.
Did I mention we used the Professional edition? What you need to know is that the SFDC Professional edition doesn’t have API. At first, the customer was ok to manually add leads to CRM because, at that point, the project was an experiment. But what I love about Salesforce is how many workarounds there are. We used the email-to-lead function, which enabled us to connect the most traffic-intensive sources of leads. Thankfully their website is built on WordPress (just like the website you are reading right now). We were able to use premium yet pre-built plugins to manage an integration.
Opportunities are the most important and most exciting part of this project. Some call them deals, and in most automotive CRM’s they are called deals. We decided to leave them as Opportunities. That way, we left some space for scaling the system to other departments of the company. For instance, we plan to build a car service CRM automobile.
Our company managed to build full-cycle tracking for test drives, leasing inquiry tracking and management, quotes, and more. Everything was made with Professional edition at no extra add-on purchasing from Salesforce.
Test drive management
As every car dealership, TC Motors offers their customers to test a car before buying it. We created a custom object in Salesforce called Test Drive where all new test drives with the customer land. This object is synced with calendar integration. Every time the sales rep negotiates a test drive with a client, it automatically gets synced with the calendar.
Another cool feature of the system is that the sales rep has to sign a test drive agreement with the customer when a customer arrives on-site. In the past, the sales rep had to use word templates. Now, the system automatically generates documents with customer data and vehicle information merged into the PDF. Automation saves tons of time and brings a more seamless experience to the customer.
I guess it’s no secret that most of the new cars are sold via leasing. TC Motors care about the privacy of their client. During the project planning stage, they mentioned they need a private area available to leasing managers. A remote location in the Salesforce dealer management system means a custom object storing all leasing inquiries. Once the inquiry is processed, the leasing manager can delete all data. That way, sensitive financial data is not stored in the system. Oh, and the customer doesn’t have to share sensitive data with a sales rep because he will be working with a leasing specialist, and no data is revealed to the sales rep. As a result, GDPR best practices were implemented.
There is no single deal without a quote. Some companies prefer to send quotes via text via email. Some even use WhatsApp to let their customers know about the best offer. In this project, we have pushed Salesforce quotes to the max. We’ve used the standard functionality of Salesforce quoting and linked it to vehicles.
Every time a sales rep produces a quote to a customer, he can choose if he wasn’t to offer one of the cars available on stock or build a custom configuration of the car tailored to customer needs. As I mentioned before, we made this project with Salesforce Professional Edition, and access to customization and automation tools was limited. We would go with Salesforce CPQ for such scenarios in other cases, but that would not be a challenge.
Now here is the most exciting part of the quoting process. Once a sales rep is happy with the pricing and setup of the quote (vehicle plus accessories, extra options, etc.), they generation a multi-page PDF and send’s it to the customer. We have worked together with the client to rebuild existing PDF quotes so they match Salesforce functionality.
I have mentioned before that we’ve to build PDF printout templates. Well, that’s not all. One of the requirements was that sales reps could generate custom PDFs. For example, GPDR consent, test drive agreements, PDF offers, and service orders. Service orders are used as checklists to ensure that every part of the customer’s order is included with the car and nothing is missed.
Most automotive CRM software on the market offers lead management and opportunity tracking. Which is fine, but what happens with the car next? What happens when you track your financial data like operational profit, margins, and additional costs before the sales rep hands over the vehicle to the client?
We have built a comprehensive order management system with Salesforce. We used standard object Orders from Salesforce and customized them to store every essential part of the order in one place. With Orders, the company is now tracking delivery dates, can track extra costs that occurred before car handover to the client, track payment, and more.
Payment and invoice tracking
We were building a salesforce dealer management system that could scale as time goes. So we have created a simple system where sales reps can register invoices and link them to the entries in their ERP system.
What we love about the payment tracking system is that payment could be accepted as trade-ins. Suppose the customer decides to trade in their old car as the first payment. In that case, our system will allow them to handle the payment as trade and, thus providing transparency for the financial department and other parties involved in the sales process.
Vehicle lifecycle management
It’s hard to imagine a dealership CRM without complete vehicle lifecycle management. We did replicate the excel file provided by the customer at the beginning of the project. We scaled it to complete the CRM automobile solution.
TC Motors is now capable of tracking new vehicle delivery dates, car status, car owner, sale price, purchase price, and every single aspect of each particular vehicle. Everything in one unified automotive CRM built with Salesforce.
When we were done with Salesforce configuration, we’ve built a complete e-learning course. The learning course will help onboard existing and future employees to Salesforce and make the user experience as smooth as possible.
We’ve used the Salesforce learning path to embed learning experience directly to Salesforce and remove the need for external learning hosting.
Our training sessions also included an on-site onboarding seminar. Everyone involved in the project had a better feeling and could participate in the QA session.
When we are entirely done with the initial implementation of the project, the customer has signed up with our Salesforce managed services to support the setup. During the subscription period, we align Salesforce with the business process even further. For example, recently, we have updated email notifications. Every time a lead land into CRM from the company website, the assigned employee is notified about a new prospect looking for an offer.