Three keys to sales success in your dealership

By Matt Sellhorst

The past several years have been what I call “boom” years for most dealers. Sales volume is up, units are up in most segments and times are pretty good.

But, could they be better?

What happens if there’s a slowdown? Or what if the election cycle triggers the typical uncertainty that could impact sales?

If your dealership is already experiencing these underlying symptoms; slow inventory turns, high interest and curtailment payments or low margins on the sales you do make, you likely have an issue in one or more of these three key areas.

1.  Generating enough quality leads

2.  Converting those leads into face to face opportunities

3.  Closing face to face opportunities (or closing with low margins)

Have you ever heard a sales person — who’s typically not hitting their sales goals — say, “Hey boss, we need more leads.”  I certainly have.

1. Not generating enough quality leads. 

The key word is quality leads. Here are a few elements of a quality lead:

  •             Local (whatever that means to your dealership)
  •             Financially able to buy
  •             Interested in the types of boats you sell
  •             May buy a boat within the next three years

Now, the last one may seem a little odd to some. However, some of the best leads you can generate are early in the research process and will turn into high-margin boat sales when added to a 24/7 boat selling machine (check out past Boating Industry articles on The Educational Spectrum of a Boat Buyer and the 24/7 Boat Selling Machine).

Before we go any further, let’s ask a few questions to see if there are any leaks in our lead generation strategy.

At the boat show, did you capture all the potential leads that walked into your booth and enter then into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System?

When someone calls into the dealership, does everyone (sales, parts, service, storage, receptionist, etc.) on your staff capture all of their information and enter it into the CRM, every time?

When you receive a lead online via Boat Trader, your manufacturer leads, website leads, social media leads, etc., do they all get entered into the CRM so they can be tracked and followed up with consistently over time?

Often when working with dealerships, we may initially say there is a lack of leads coming in, however the reality is there are tons of quality leads that are leaking out and not being captured.

The first step is to ensure you and your staff is capturing every single person that interacts with your dealership before investing anything additional in lead generation marketing.

On the flip side, if the issue truly lies within lead generation, there’s a quick and easy way to generate quality local leads that are interested in the types of boats you sell.

Simple and free lead generation strategy

Start by grabbing your cell phone and start up a Facebook Live on your dealerships page. For best results, do this daily at the same time of day each and every day you’re open.

Select a boat and start presenting it to the audience as if you were on stage at a boat show speaking to potential buyers of that particular boat. 

If you don’t have a large Facebook following, you may not have an audience initially. However, like any marketing method that works long term, it can and will take some time to build momentum. 

The good news is these Facebook Live sessions are 100% free. Plus, you get to take advantage of the Facebook Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help find more boaters in your local area to view your videos and find your dealership and inventory.

Obviously, there are some more advanced tactics to add to this simple strategy and some nuances of how to do the Facebook Live for maximum results, but this will get you started in the right direction in just 15 minutes a day.

This month’s challenge:  Do a 30 day Facebook Live Challenge. Go live on Facebook around the same time every day and present a boat, a product or service for your dealership. If you accept this challenge, drop me an email and I’ll ‘Like’ your page to help boost the reach.

If you’re not sure where to even begin, go to for a free training on setting it up on your phone.

You can find part two of this dive into sales success online here, where we’ll talk about turning the quality leads into face-to-face sales opportunities.

Matt Sellhorst is the founder of Boat Dealer Profits Marketing Agency and author of the only business building book for the retail boating industry,  “Boat Dealer Profits; How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun.” Claim your free copy at 

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