Short-term success and long-term profitability?

Ask your sales staff which they’d rather have: 100 brand new leads they could work for 90 days, or 100 leads that are 90 days old they can continue working for the next three years?

Most would choose the 100 to work for the next 90 days. That’s instant gratification, instant sales and instant income. That “make the sale now” mentality is perfect for a results-driven sales person.

However, as a business owner, sales manager or marketing coordinator, I want to throw out another perspective, a perspective that will give you a long-term competitive advantage.

It’s a principle I’ve discussed in various talks at dealer meetings, industry conferences and other trainings. Recently, Boats Group confirmed the principle once again with their research on conversion ratio of their leads.

If you haven’t read the research, it has been revealed that 42 percent of leads submitted via their platform convert (bought a boat) within the first 90 days of submitting the form online. That leaves an additional 58 percent that buy a boat 91 days to three years out.

Over time, which group adds more revenue and profit to your dealership?

It means that the group of leads that are over 90 days old in your database has more value than the next batch of leads that comes into your dealership.

Consider the boat shopper’s journey. Many consumers are shopping for boats, often before they are truly ready to buy. That’s why they tend to hide behind computers and stop communicating when your sales person tries to sell them a boat.

Imagine if you built a systematic communication strategy to engage these prospects over a three-year period (or longer) to build the know, like and trust factors. On top of that, you educated the prospects on how to buy a boat the right way, how to avoid the mistakes others make and sell the boating lifestyle in your area.

I can tell you from experience, dealers that take this approach with a 24/7 boat selling machine (the series of automated emails, boat previews and relationship building e-zines) find more success. This approach is not a silver bullet or instant fix, this is a strategy based on proven research and principles that will give your dealership a long-term competitive advantage in your market place.

The research showed that 16.3 percent of their leads ultimately bought a boat. So out of 1,000 leads, 68 sales would be made in the first 90 days. Another 94 sales would be made over the next three years. Now, take your piece of the pie from those sales (your basic market share numbers).

What do you think will happen to your market share numbers when you communicate interesting and compelling messages with all of your leads as a general business practice for as long as your dealership is in business? That’s right, your market share numbers will increase and you’ll take a lion’s share of the 58 percent of the market that makes a buying decision over the long term. While your competitors focus most if not all of their attention on the 42 percent of “Now Buyers”, you will be expanding your business and profits.

It’s a mindset shift to be certain and setting up a 24/7 boat-selling machine is not easy work, but ask yourself if it’s worth it for the additional sales and profit and your long-term success.

This month’s challenge:
Develop a series of automated emails that will engage the researchers and evaluators, as I discussed in the Educational Spectrum of a Boat Buyer article. Do this over a 12 to 24 month period of time with personal emails that match the conversation going on in their head during the boat shopping process. Send me your emails and I’ll send you a free, signed copy of my latest book, Boat Dealer Profits. 


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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