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Steve White discusses how getting accurate data into your CRM is the first step toward attribution.

BY March 27

When it comes to marketing attribution, there’s one vital activity that even the most advanced algorithms and technology cannot interpret – inaccurate human input. While no CRM system can provide you with accurate marketing attribution, it contains data that is invaluable to the process. Because getting accurate data into your CRM is the first step toward attribution, it’s simply a matter of garbage in and garbage out. If you have incorrect data entered, then incorrect actions can be taken based on that data. Your CRM is simply a starting point in the journey of piecing together Multi-Touch-Attribution so you can really answer that question; “is my marketing helping me sell more vehicles?”

Ultimately, no matter what story the offline and digital breadcrumbs tell about the customer’s journey, any customer that ends up in your showroom inevitably finds themselves in front of a salesperson. That salesperson enters the customer into the dealership’s CRM and upon first entering a customer, every CRM will ask a salesperson some version of “How did you hear about us?”

Many managers and dealers make important marketing decisions based on these answers. But how do you know if these answers are really accurate for walk-in customers? The answer to how that customer heard about you and then walked into your dealership is just as important as those customers you can track via their online digital footprints. The reason it is so important is that these answers can dictate where you spend marketing dollars – and the answers may well be wrong and steer you in the wrong direction.

A simple and effective exercise to help identify if your sales staff enters inaccurate sources on purpose is as follows:

  1. Every CRM allows users to enter sources when inputting a new customer. Add some common sources that your dealership does not currently use. As most CRMs list sources alphabetically, consider adding a false source at the top of the list. For example, try AAA. If your dealership uses AAA try adding some different sources. Don’t stick to just one, add a few (I suggest three). You could even add some sources that the dealership used in the past but not currently.
  2. Conduct business as usual for a period of no less than 60 days. Let salespeople continue to log customers into the CRM as per usual.
  3. At the end of the 60-day period, run a source report from the CRM for logged customers separated by source. Once you do this, you can easily identify how many times customers were sourced to those non-existent sources you added, along with the salespeople who entered the customer and attributed them to the false source.

This exercise also provides great information that can be used for training purposes to ensure better and more accurate data from your CRM.

When it comes to CRM sourcing by your salespeople, the accuracy of the data input is extremely important. Salespeople that take shortcuts and enter non-existent sources probably do not ask their customers, but simply pick a source and many times it is the first on the list.

Now that you’ve identified any offenders, you have actionable data and management can decide how to proceed. I have heard of plenty of examples (especially in the AAA source) where just one or two specific salespeople are the worst offenders. This skews sourcing. How can your dealership truly know what marketing drove that customer to walk into your showroom if salespeople enter erroneous data?

One workable solution is to implement a multi-sourcing system where the customer is again asked what brought them into the dealership once they are in the finance office. You can then run a comparison between what the salesperson entered into the CRM and what is told to the F&I manager. You’ll probably be surprised by the differences you discover in sourcing.

Do you know how accurate the sourcing data in your CRM is? You may think you do but if you use this simple example, you’ll know.


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