How to stop losing boat sales

Have you ever lost a boat sale? Or watched as one of your sale people misses an opportunity you feel they should have had?

Here are five of the biggest reasons you’re losing sales and some suggested solutions, so you can put a stop to it once and for all.

Ready? Here we go… 

1. You talk too much about what you think is important

Too often during our mystery shopping, a sales person will fail to do the No. 1 thing top sales people do naturally: Ask good quality questions early in the relationship to provide the foundation for your sales presentation.   

SOLUTION: Instead of making it all about you and what you like about a boat, ask what’s really important to the buyer and present the boat as the match to those areas. One excellent question to start with is; “What made you decide to stop in to research our boats today?”

2. You handle price all wrong from the get go

Listen the next time you or a sales person prices a boat to a prospect. How do they present price? Are they scared of price and typically quote the sales price, or worse yet, the lowest price they think the owner will take? If so, you are losing sales because there is no room for the prospect to negotiate and feel like they are getting a good deal. Therefore, they walk.  

SOLUTION: Be 100 percent confident in your prices, then quote the MSRP first to build value in the boat. Set their price thermostat high and get credit for any discounts and incentives you offer. When done with confidence, your prospects will be confident they are getting a good value.

3. You quit on the first objection

Most buyers are fearful of making a decision when buying a boat. Understanding this helps a sales person put objections in the right context. Instead of seeing an objection as a true statement of why they will never buy, reframe the statement as their fear trying to keep them from enjoying their new boat.  

SOLUTION: Acknowledge the objection and ask a clarifying question. Listen empathetically. I mean really listen, and then respond and ask for them to buy again. Let’s assume they say, “We need to think about it.” You respond with; “Sure, I understand. This is a major investment in your family. So I may be able to provide some insights, what specifically do you want to think about?” (Empathetic tone)

Reply to objection based on all previous conversations and ask; “Based on our time together, this seems like the right boat for you and your family. How about we lock it in with a $1,000 refundable equity deposit? Do you want to use a Visa or MasterCard?”

4. You overwhelm or confuse the prospect

Most boat buyers only buy a new boat every few years. Some only buy a single boat their entire life.  This fact means you must be crystal clear and even basic when speaking to your prospects. Even with those buying a second or third boat, because confused prospects never buy.   

SOLUTION: Avoid using technical jargon and phrases that confuse the prospects. And, explain to them exactly what they will experience when working with you and how easy you’ll make it. Here is an example to work from: “Mr. Prospect, let me tell you how simple we make this if you find the right boat at the right price. First, we’ll work together to select right boat for your boating needs. Then, we put it on the water for you to guarantee you’re making a smart decision. Lastly, we finalize all the paperwork and train you on your new boat, so you can start making memories with your family. How does that sound?”

5. You don’t ask the prospect to buy clearly

Sometimes, we sales people do an incredible job with a prospect. We greet them properly, do a short interview process and find all their reasons to buy. Then, we present the boat and price using a perfect $1,000 presentation. And at the end of the time, the prospect says “Ok, thanks we’ll be in touch.” 

You need to ask for the sale more often in a direct manner like; “Is this the boat for you?” or “Would you like to buy this boat?”  

SOLUTION: Develop a series of trial closing questions that you ask every prospect you speak with in your dealership. “Is this the right boat for you?”  Then, when you get a Yes, state “We can lock it in with a $1,000 refundable deposit. Would you like to use a Visa or MasterCard?” 

Developing a series of trial close questions will get the “Yes momentum” going and works very well to get the deposit or final sale as well.

This month’s challenge:  Focus on each of these five areas in training, role playing and when face to face, nose to nose, toes to toes with prospects and watch your sales increase.  


Matt Sellhorst is the creator of the SPLASH System and committed to helping honest and ethical boat dealers, manufacturers and brokers sell more boats, make more money and have more fun. He is the author of two industry books; “Boat Dealer Profits: How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun” and “Marine Marketing Strategies.” Sellhorst is also host of the Boat Dealer Profits Podcast and Boat Dealer Profits TV channel. For more articles, videos, webinars packed with tips, tricks and tactics visit 



  1. Number 4 is very important. Keep it simple (unless the prospect wants to talk technical) and paint them into the experience.

    Buying a boat is usually based on emotion, rather than logic.

    Thanks Matt.

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