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Necessity or Redundancy

Danny James: Another thing that the sales force was not necessarily doing that well was handling the calls, the incoming calls and things, so we created business development centers. BDC was going to be the answer, and that was going to be our end-all be-all to fix things, but really the BDC is not an automatic problem solver.

Larry Bruce: It's more of an automatic problem creator in my opinion. There's a lot of people who are pro BDC, and what I normally see as a BDC is a group of people that are doing at least as much digital marketing, email marketing, direct mail marketing and managing PPC campaigns, etc., for the dealership as they are following up on customers. They're more of a marketing group and a customer follow-up group. That's what I see more often than not.

Danny James: Okay. 

Larry Bruce: But the BDC was born because salespeople wouldn't sit at their desk and wait for the lead.

Danny James: Yeah. 

Larry Bruce: It first started out as the internet manager, and I can remember way back in the day when the internet was first coming on. "Hey, Bill's not really selling much these days. Hey, I've got a good idea. Let's make him the internet manager, right?" Then, they threw him over the internet manager and Bill fledged along. He didn't have anything to do, but he was managing that CRM thing and leads would come, that ILM thing, the internet lead manager. It would come in. They would manage and converse back and forth and manage to sell a few cars. And then, all of the sudden, things shifted where now it was I wanted the internet leads. I needed the internet leads because people weren't coming into my store, right? It became more important to get the internet leads and then as that happened and more salespeople needed the internet leads and more salespeople needed to work leads in order to get customers and sell things, the CRM system was really then born. The ILM kind of turned into the CRM, and it was that natural organizer for everything, all the inbound communications, calls and leads. But, there was nothing in it for them. They would follow up with the customer once. If they got a hold of them, great. If they didn't, they didn't. You know, there was no process. We just kind of willy nilly went along. 

Larry Bruce: Every now and then, when sales were low, the sales manager would come start digging into that CRM, "Dammit! You guys aren't following up with these leads!" 

Danny James: Yeah. 

Larry Bruce: Right? 

Danny James: Yeah. 

Larry Bruce: It's so hilarious, but that's what would happen, right. This happens today. It's scary. It happens right now, today, 2018, still happening. So, you know, but the salespeople never had that process. Then it was, well, all salespeople are inherently lazy. I don't buy that. I don't buy it because an inherently lazy person doesn't come in at 9:00 in the morning and leave at 9:00 at night. 

Danny James: Yeah. 

Larry Bruce: That's not a lazy person. I don't care what you say, that's not a lazy person. That's a person who's there working and the only thing they know what to do is what you've shown them and that's when somebody comes onto the lot, go help them.

Danny James: Sure. 

Larry Bruce: Because they don't know anything else to fill up their time. They don't fill up their time. You never gave them a process. You never told them what to do as a sales manager. 

Danny James: The organization can create the perception of laziness. 

Larry Bruce: Yeah. 

Danny James: They're not lazy at all. They just don't have a game plan. 

Larry Bruce: They don't know what to do. 

Danny James: Yeah. 

Larry Bruce: They don't know what to do. In lieu of that I don't know what to do, what I am going to do is I'm going to go out, smoke a cigarette and wait for an op.

Danny James: Yeah, yeah. 

Larry Bruce: I mean, I don't know what else to do, right? As a sales manager you didn't give them the process to follow up on. Okay, then, even if you did and you got them to buy in, by the time they collected all of this information they were so freaking overwhelmed they couldn't follow up on it anyway and they got frustrated with that. 

Danny James: Yes.  

Larry Bruce: And, so, at the end of the day it was just an unsustainable process, so you created the BDC thinking that, yeah, that's it, another department in the store. That will help. Right? So, here's another department we went and created to manage, staff, maintain and train, when we couldn't manage, staff, maintain and train our sales force, but yet we're going to go create this other department and we're going to somehow magically be able to do that. 

Danny James: Yeah. 

Larry Bruce: Right. So, what did you do? You hired this BDC manager and you go, "Here, you can see the problem. Fix it," and you walked away. So, the BDC manager, her, him, not knowing anything different, "Well, I've got this system. I need to follow up on these customers that are in this system," so I'm going to say, you need to follow up this way. I'm going to give you some arbitrary number out of the air to follow up with them, one at time, and when you get a hold of them you set an appointment, you give it to the salesperson. They came up with this, and it was great. The BDC is working. This person's come in and organized it. They've done a great job, and then what happened? The guy down the street found out what a great job she was doing and hired her away from you, and you're an old BDC crankard. 

Danny James: Yeah. Yeah.  

Larry Bruce: I mean, I've watched this happen time and time again. It's comical. There was no redundancy there. So, when that happened you couldn't find another person to come in and do that because a new person's coming in, trying to take over somebody else's process who, by the way, didn't document any of this, right? And, so, these other people kind of know what they should do, don't know what they should do. Some of them left with them. You get so frustrated with them. I've got to start back all over again. I'm not doing this again. I just got it up and running and now it's all cratered. Then they went away. And, so, I watch Powersports start to do this and I go, guys, if you only knew the pain you're creating for yourself right now.

Danny James: Sure.  

Larry Bruce: I mean, the BDC was never the answer. The BDC was a bandaid we put over bad CRM, and it wasn't bad CRM because it was bad CRM. The concept was sound. The technology wasn't available to be able to do what we wanted to do at the time when we built it. When we started building these things, man, when was yours, '95? You know, AutoBase was around '95. Once CRM came around, 1999, you know, there were lots of things in between. These things, we didn't know, the technology wasn't there. Cell phones weren't pervasive. They weren't smart phones. They were flip phones. You didn't have the capability to have to be that efficient. We knew how efficient we needed to be, but we didn't' have the technology to be as efficient as we needed to be at the time. So, all we could do was organize the data we had, hope we do better with it, and we did somewhat better with it, but not to the extent that's needed today, and that's why you have to transition. The industry has to transition. Powersports, auto, the whole thing. They have to transition from CRM to sales automation. You have to. You don't have a choice.

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