Successful marine retailers know the importance of sales training. With proper training, sales personnel will close more deals and create more satisfied customers.
There are lots of books, videos and experts on the subject of retail sales. Some are extremely good. While they may vary on some of the details, most of them typically address two broad topics – people knowledge and product knowledge.
People knowledge refers to the psychological aspects of selling, like knowing your customer, asking the right questions and developing trust and improving communication. Product knowledge usually involves a discussion about features and benefits and how to apply them to the wants and needs of the potential buyer.
Yet most of these training seminars leave out a crucial component of the sales presentation – financing. A lot of marine transactions eventually come down to a discussion of payments, interest rates, credit applications and paperwork. In many sales training programs financing is the last item discussed, if it is mentioned at all. Often the sales team will be given some instructions about how to fill out the credit application and perhaps there will be some discussion of financing terminology, but they often fail to instruct the team on how to use financing to drive the sale.
If you think of sales in terms of “people” and “product” information, financing affects both. Financing empowers people, encouraging them to dream bigger. When presented properly, financing also creates a sense of partnership between the customer and the dealer, a “we-can-do-this-together” camaraderie.
Financing has “product” implications because financing is, in fact, a product itself, with features and benefits that sales personnel should know and understand. Financing is something your business provides that will help customers realize their dream of purchasing a boat, so it may be among the most important “products” that you offer.
As a lender, we work with hundreds of dealers across the country and see how they promote and use financing to build their businesses. From our conversations with them, we have developed a five-point sales training message that can help dealers close more sales. These points represent only a surface-level treatment of the topic.
A thorough presentation would involve a discussion of specific financing offers, a review of the application process and other details that may vary from dealer to dealer. But these points apply to all, and they serve as a great introduction into this vital sales topic.
Five Financing Points to Remember:
1. Introduce financing early in the presentation. Some sales personnel may think of financing simply as a way close the sale. In fact, mentioning the availability and ease of financing early in the discussion will empower your customers and encourage them to think of bigger, better options. Financing will help them get the boat of their dreams.
2. Use financing to manage the sale. Big decisions, like buying a $20,000 boat, are hard to make, and many customers will want to “go home and sleep on it.” Once they walk out, chances diminish that they will come back and complete the deal. A discussion of financing options can lead to credit approval before your customer leaves the store.
3. Sell payments, not price. For most sales transactions, financing is an absolutely essential part of the sales equation. That’s because most boat buyers don’t have $20,000 to $30,000 in cash. Successful marine dealers know that in many cases, you don’t sell a customer on the price; you sell them on an affordable monthly payment. Perhaps they don’t have $20,000 on hand, but they do have $230 a month in discretionary income.
4. Make sure the application information is accurate and complete. Deals can get sidetracked and delayed when there are mistakes on the application form. Double-check all the information on the form, especially the spelling of names, Social Security numbers and telephone numbers. Also make sure the applicant has listed all sources of income. Rental income or the income earned by a spouse can really boost their credit profile.
5. Use financing to up sell. Financing enables customers to dream bigger. Once the customer has been approved, they can begin to imagine new possibilities — a bigger or faster boat, more accessories, more fun. Financing empowers consumers, which is a good thing for marine dealers.
Consumer financing, when used effectively, is an enormously powerful marketing tool. Don’t under-utilize it. Instruct your sales team on the five points of financing and watch the impact it will have on your close rate.