It’s been a record year, now what?

By Matt Sellhorst

The data is coming out and the 2020 season has been an enormous success so far, especially considering the state of the world, upcoming presidential election and overall uncertainty.

It’s great to celebrate, then, ask what’s next?

Virtually every dealer has added new clients and generated a ton of new leads. So, in addition to the huge sales numbers, there’s also plenty of opportunity for more in 2021 and beyond.

This opportunity every dealer and manufacturer has reminds me of the story I often tell when speaking at dealer meetings or other events. It’s the story of the kid and the apple tree.

Here’s the short version:

A little kid has an apple tree in his back yard. One day, he sees a bright shiny apple on the tree and gets excited. He picks it and eats the juicy sweet apple. Over the next week, he picks all the red apples, but after he’s had his fill, he is distracted and never goes back to see if any of those green apples have ripened. So, what happens? Those tiny green apples ripen and fall to the ground to rot and are gone forever.

The same can be true of new boat sales and especially true for leads. Some, many in fact, may not be ready to buy for some reason or another at the time you first discover them. But, when you nurture and check on them over time, more of them will “ripen” and turn into profit sales and long-term clients.

So, in addition to record sales, you likely have seen a record number of new leads. However, many of those will be unable to buy due to lack of inventory. Others didn’t buy because of economic uncertainty. Others, for a host of various reasons.

But, one thing is true, they have an interest in owning a boat or getting out on the water. The question is, will you be there to nurture them along and be there when they ripen and become a “Now Buyer?”

To ensure you are, here’s one thing that should be at the top of your needs list:

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to organize, schedule and send follow-up messages to your leads (and clients).

The best options are able to send emails; emails that send based on time and action sequences, offer manual follow-up notifications to sales people and even text or trigger direct mail sequences.

But, as with all things technology, the most expensive and capable CRM that is not loaded with the proper follow-up system (or 24/7 boat selling machine as we’ve created) the results will be harder to obtain.

Yet, some of the most successful dealers use simple and inexpensive technology tools that are filled with a proven lead follow up system that reliably nurtures and turns those little green apples into big red and juicy prospects delivered right to your best sales person at the right time.

Successful dealers and sales people know it’s easy to buy a CRM, but the key to successfully and systematically turning leads into sales season after season is to deliver the right message at the right time.

This month challenge: Review your CRM’s capabilities and the emails, templates, e-newsletters, messages and follow-up triggers in that CRM. Then, put some time and effort into improving them so they systematically convert leads into solid boat sales month after month and year after year.

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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