Embracing beyond-the-call support

DMS companies help dealers drive sales after software products are sold

Marine industry dealer management system providers are embracing beyond-the-call approaches to assist customers in a demanding sales environment. 

While these companies primarily cater to information management associated with finance, sales, parts, inventory and administration components of running a dealership, they are helping their clients maximize their software investment.

“We do a lot of things for our clients outside of our software,” said Winboats President Bryan Potzner. “It’s amazing how many dealers come to me for coaching regarding boat shows and how to do them right.” 

“One of the shortcomings I see is dealers not taking full advantage of truly interested customers staying in their store.”
— Robert Grant, CDK Global Recreation business development specialist

Regarding on-site management and integration of his company’s customer relationship management products, Potzner said he takes an extra step if a dealership owner asks him to provide additional training. 

“If I have a tough time getting through to a salesperson, I’ll grab their cell phone and gently threaten to clean out their contacts,” he said. “You have to make the point the phone is only valuable when you feed it information. The most important thing is having a tool that can match buyers and boats.” 

Pushing preparation

The largest expense a dealership can have is inefficient communication between the service and the sales department, Potzner added. Redundant work can eat up hours. That’s why Potzner pushes boat show preparation. Dealers as a group determine how successful a boat show is or not. “I go to boat shows all over the country and help dealers out,” Potzner said. “Some shows are hugely successful because everybody shows up to play ball,” he said. “If you are going to go, show up and be ready to do business. That’s one of the mistakes that dealers make. They show up with a really nice display, and they won’t be prepared, and some of them will be working on finalizing lead cards the day of the show.” 

Potzner said he instructs Winboats staff to provide boat show training when talking to current prospects as well as ask a lot of questions as they observe staff at work at a dealership. “Are they documenting what the customer is looking for?” he asked. “What type of boat, what type of price range? When you get to the show, you’ll have all of the trade-ins coming in. We left the Atlanta boat show every year with virtually every trade in that we had coming in processed. We are there to make sales. People forget that. People focus on the nicest display, and that is valuable, but if you are not prepared to make deals happen, typically, you walk away wondering what happened That’s far more important than teaching your staff how to greet the customer properly.”

“I go to boat shows all over the country and help dealers out.”
— Winboats President Bryan Potzner

Managing misconceptions

Dealers can start small with their management software when managing incoming leads, making sure customers receive a thorough follow-through, said Robert Grant, CDK Global Recreation business development specialist. “One of the biggest misconceptions that we see is that you need to invest big money in advertising or marketing, anything of that nature. They can maximize the traffic that they are receiving through the entire process.”

Since lead management systems provide huge databases of information, dealers have the opportunity to identify hot spots in their
markets, along with incoming lead traffic as well as transactional data. 

“They can focus on those areas and target their marketing dollars, or refocus on areas they were not thinking about initially,” Grant said. “It comes down to the whole sales funnel and making sure leads are being followed up, and those personal customer touches are happening, specifically in regards to phone calls and emails. A lead management system is designed to foster that.”

CDK is constantly getting feedback from dealers. “Streamlining for mobile and driving those metrics is a key focus,” Grant said. “Dealers spend a lot of time in the acquisition phase of generating leads. One of the shortcomings I see is dealers not taking full advantage of truly interested customers standing in their store. I’ve seen dealers who have been successful with one employee whose sole responsibility is make phone calls or keep in touch, and do follow-ups.”

Assistance helps industry

“Part of our mission is to grow the boating industry. I talk to my team a lot about that internally. Our customers and prospects are dealing with recreational clients that could go elsewhere.”
— DockMaster Software President Cam Collins

Furthermore, DMS companies are providing solutions to drive more sales because it helps clients in the long run. 

“It also helps dealers get better at the end of the day,” said Cam Collins, president, DockMaster Software, Inc. “It’s all part of a long-term customer relationship,” he added. “Part of our mission is to grow the boating industry,” Collins said. “I talk to my team a lot about that internally. Our customer and prospects are dealing with recreational clients that could go elsewhere.” 

According to Collins, it’s highly important for DockMaster to make boating the most streamlined, optimal and plug-and-play recreational pursuit possible. 

“We don’t do that by delivering complicated systems or processes that are difficult to implement,” he said. “We work from that perspective.” 

DockMaster’s stronger dealers are beginning to understand its customers know a lot more going into the door than their counterparts did 10 years ago. 

“They are walking in the door with so much information that they have a pretty good example in their mind of what they think they want. One of the things that works well is when a dealer can impart knowledge to a client. We talk a lot about that when directly working with our clients. We always ask what can we do to help our customers improve their business.” 

DockMaster Software, Inc. publishes an enewsletter six times a year to help clients maximize their product investments.

For example, Collins said DockMaster is no longer positioning its lead management system as a CRM product. 

“That’s because we listened to what brokers and boat salespeople were telling us. They told us that they always needed to be within reach with their smartphones. We knew that we could not build a smartphone CRM that was as good as what existed in the marketplace. We knowingly took a profit and revenue cut to partner with third-party companies that do this really well.” 

Mobile CRM wins against desktop for sales people, Collins added. “You can’t tie those people to a desk,” he said. “They are at boat shows, on the floor, everywhere. There’s so much data in DockMaster that’s relevant, but dealership employees who are mobile didn’t have access to it. That information was not getting out to people.” According to Collins, knowledge transfer is a big part of helping the customer. “Many times, members of my team assume the customer knows things that we only know internally about our product. We have an enewsletter that goes out six times a year to help our customers be more efficient in using our product.” 



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