Zach Klempf is an up and coming millennial entrepreneur in the automotive industry and was recently named as one of Auto Remarketing’s 40 Under 40 for 2015. He is the CEO of San Francisco based Selly Automotive and is a thought leader in the industry writing for multiple dealership magazines as well as other online business outlets like Forbes. Zach started Selly Automotive after working as a car sales professional and recognizing that the average sales person had a hard time using the complex sales software most dealerships run today. Selly Automotive is a mobile first, full suite SaaS dealership sales platform designed to simplify prospect management and accelerate deal closure.
IPD – Tell me about your background and the origins of Selly.
Zach – I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and while attending college at Emory University I started working in sales at a local car dealership. It was a franchise store and I learned a lot about the car business from my experiences there. The dealership churned through different CRM systems during my tenure there and I noticed all of the systems were pretty inefficient and slowed down the momentum of the deal for the sales person. A lot of my fellow salesmen wouldn’t even bother to enter their fresh ups into these systems because they weren’t easy to use, they lacked any real mobile capability, and were just generally “clunky” for lack of a better word. It was clear to me that the legacy CRM and dealership software systems went beyond the need for a simple tune-up and really needed a complete overhaul in order to make the life of the average sales person easier and to modernize dealership technology. We originally released Selly Automotive as an iPhone app for the individual car sales professional to better manage their prospects, and in a matter of months we had over 4,000 downloads from salespeople! From there we were accepted into Blue Start-Ups, a startup accelerator program, where we have raised initial capital and redesigned Selly Automotive into the innovative solution it is today.
IPD – What exactly is Selly Automotive?
Zach – Selly Automotive is a mobile centric, social savvy, sales management platform purpose built for the modern dealership. Our goal is to save dealerships time and money while accelerating deal closures with an intuitive CRM interface delivered at a fraction of the cost of competitors. Selly Automotive is a full dealership sales suite with integrated CRM, Internet lead management (ILM), email marketing, and inventory capabilities. We provide integrations for major DMS providers plus include an action oriented Manager’s Portal to aid dealership management in their day to day oversight of the showroom.
IPD – Tell me more about your product offerings at Selly Automotive.
Zach – At Selly Automotive, we have two main solution offerings. As mentioned earlier we have an integrated CRM, ILM, Email Marketing, and visual Inventory Management system with an intuitive Manager’s portal available as an affordable subscription model. But we haven’t yet talked about a key component of our dealership platform — Selly Mobile. Selly Mobile streamlines the data entry process for car sales professionals with its in-app driver’s license and VIN scanning features. It offers an industry leading, patent pending Selly Notes Pop Up feature which automatically displays relevant prospect information based on specific sales cycle stage when an inbound contact is made by a previously entered customer. Selly Mobile delivers “on-the-lot” productivity and puts social media marketing tools literally in the hands of the car sales professional working the lot.
Some of the basic CRM features of Selly Mobile are available as a freemium standalone mobile app for the car sales executive whose dealership may not have a CRM system or for those sales professionals that want to try a lite mobile version of Selly to bring to their dealership principals’ attention that a better solution is available. It is available in the Apple App store and Google Play store.
We also offer a full service SEM agency to help dealerships build their digital marketing expertise and online presence. Selly’s digital team brings a strong background in digital marketing from vendors like JumpStart. We’re small enough where we can cater to each dealer group we work with. We don’t service your competition and promise both parties similar results like some of our competitors. Our specialties include Mobile Geo Fencing and Mobile Geo Conquesting, as well as trackable customer visits.
IPD – How do you stack up against the competition?
Having worked in the industry for years and attended most major conferences, I have either seen demos of our competitors or have personally used them myself. Most CRM vendors have fairly similar offerings with few substantial differentiators. Many are overly complex instead of focusing on delivering the most important features via a simple, modern mobile interface. Our competition spends a lot on R&D without delivering real innovation. When you compare automotive dealership software to similar software in other industries, it feels like we are falling behind in disruptive innovation and technology adoption. Historically, the automotive industry space has not attracted much interest from venture capitalists and Silicon Valley, but that is starting to change with new business models enabled by the digital marketplace and connected consumer. We have already seen a major disruption in the way cars are being bought with new services like Beepi and Drive Shift taking the dealership out of the equation as well as manufacturers like Tesla, which have direct-to-consumer models. It’s time for dealership software to catch up to the new marketplace and provide automotive dealerships and sales professionals with fresh tools that have been built from the ground up to tackle the digital space and cater to the mobile and social consumer. We are a millennial run start up with a fresh perspective on dealership software that brings more value per dollar to the showroom floor than our competitors.
IPD – Why do you emphasize the millennial aspect of Selly?
Zach –Because I believe it’s part of our secret sauce making us unique in the industry. We have literally grown up as consumers in the digital marketplace and we know firsthand how the millennial consumer purchases, and uses technology and social media networks to research and make buying decisions. We know that the total customer experience from initial interest to post-sales service must embrace a digital connectedness and enable the dealership to be everywhere the customer is without costing the dealership a fortune. Our millennial insight helps us tackle new features without being shackled by any legacy software design or architecture. Bringing in a fresh perspective and challenging historic industry norms is sorely needed and will help everyone in the space by driving innovation. As a millennial led company, we position ourselves differently and provide dealers with leading technology to run their businesses and be more relevant in today’s marketplace.
IPD – You write for different dealer magazines about CRM. What are the top items that dealers should be on the watch for when evaluating the fit of their existing CRM systems?
Zach – Great question. Here are my top things to consider:
- The Mobile version sucks – Does the mobile version of your dealership CRM feel like it was a first generation mobile app? Or is your “mobile app” really a responsive web client that also works on mobile devices? Mobile is key for salespeople and studies show that salespeople increase the amount of fresh ups they add when they start using a mobile CRM by 30%. Make sure it has Driver’s License and VIN Scanning to automate the data entry process for the salesperson.
- Salespeople refuse to use it – Is your CRM so complicated nobody uses it? Is it making your sales process “clunky” and taking away the momentum of the deal? If so, then Houston we have a problem! You can only get out of a CRM what your sales people and managers enter into it. You need an easy-to-use solution that balances the needs of the salesforce with the needs of sales management.
- Feature Overkill -Are there a zillion features that your dealership doesn’t use? Bells and whistles are cool but if they aren’t applicable to your store then you need to cut them out of your expense line.
- Price – Small ROI? Are you paying more for your CRM than some of your employees’ salaries? Are you locked into a 5 year contract you wish you had never signed? If so, you may be paying too much for your CRM.
IPD – Thanks for those tips. Let’s explore life as a millennial CEO. What are the biggest challenges in running an automotive start up?
Zach – Just like with any start up there are a multitude of challenges that we face and one of the hardest is having enough time to do everything that needs to be done!
IPD – What do you like the most about running a start up?
Zach – Innovating and working with my fantastic team! Being a lean startup without any sacred cows to protect, we have the advantage of uncapped innovation. We have fast development cycles and can build a new feature without all of the bureaucracy that a larger software company has to deal with. I also really enjoy working with the entire Selly team. It’s fun to be surrounded by some great people that are laser focused on creating innovative dealership software. From working with our developers, ramping demand with our sales team, brainstorming with co-founder Joseph Dixon, to consulting with key advisors Jeff Kraatz and Linda Hutchinson, they all make the long hours that I put into this start-up enjoyable and exciting.
IPD – What’s next for Selly Automotive?
Zach – Expect to see us at all the big dealership shows. We will continue to disrupt the automotive industry and keep pushing innovation into dealership software. We have a lot of exciting products and partnerships in the pipeline so stay tuned!
For more information about Zach and his company Selly Automotive visit sellyautomotive.com/ipd. Selly will offer special pricing for IPD readers interested in their services.