Stuck in the middle. It’s the worst place to be as a dealership and as a dealership employee. Yet, it happens more than it ever should. The phrase “Don’t kill the messenger” exists because, far too often, it is the messenger that gets in trouble…whether it is their fault or not. This is the life of an Internet Sales Director when stuck in the middle of a vendor circle jerk.
While on-site training a new client, we discovered an issue with their inbound lead submissions. Both sales and service leads were being sent in from their website provider under the same email address into a CRM that differentiates leads based on inbound email address. In other words, whether it be a sales or service customer, it comes into a system as email@example.com. The CRM reads it only as a new sales lead, and pushes it to the ISM instead of to a more appropriate party. When asking the CRM to find a new way to differentiate where the leads are funneled, they said “Talk to the web provider and tell them to submit it under a new email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org”. When reaching out to the web provider, they tell the dealer, “reach out to the CRM company instead and tell them to look for the keyword ‘service’ in the lead comments.” And so begins the vendor circle jerk.
Internet Sales Managers and Directors are forced to be the middle men (or women) when communication needs to occur between two pieces of software. This has to stop. It should not be the responsibility of the Internet Sales Manager to figure out why a feed from the Inventory management tool isn’t directing all data into a inventory listing lead provider. It isn’t their job to have to pass messages from one entity to the other. The dealership employee doesn’t have the time.
Vendors are paid, not just for their technology, but for their continued support and service. I believe that a committed vendor should take it upon themselves to contact the other company’s representative and sort it out. Do you remember being in school and playing the chain message game where you tell a phrase or two to the first child, ask them to pass it along, and by the time the message gets to the 10th and final child, it is completely different. Messages get lost in translation. Problems will not get solved using a third party messenger. We need to instruct our vendors to communicate between themselves without putting us in the middle of a vendor circle jerk. ‘He says, she says’ is not the way to get anything done quickly. Vendors, stop relying on the dealership team to do your communication for you. Be proactive and solve it.
I must admit… sometimes dealers do this to themselves. They put themselves in the middle of the circle jerk because they are control freaks and want to see it through. Sometimes, they even include others into the mix. Quite often, we at DealerKnows are the messengers for our clients. It is frequent we receive an email stating “Can you pass this along to (vendor name) so they can put this up on our website?” While we always serve our clients to the fullest, adding an extra person into the mix is just going to disrupt the message rather than sending it on directly. In the end, even we are trapped in the vendor circle jerk, hearing it from both sides. “Tell them this.” “They should be doing that.” “This isn’t right…it’s supposed to do this instead.” Vendors… do your clients a favor, take the reins on these issues, glitches, and changes and contact the other vendor directly. Work together and get to the bottom of the issue.
So listen up, CRM companies, inventory management software corporations, website providers, Craigslist pushers, DMS solutions and the lot… Keeping the dealer out of the vendor circle jerk will make them happier and make you look less like a jerk. Isn’t that what we all want?