Image of salesperson on the phone at boat dealership who has become robotic in their approach to sales and rusty in their skills

Sales Rust Doesn’t Look Good on You!

Shake Off the Rust, Restore Your Shimmer and Help Your Sales Team’s Skills Shine Again

By Jerrod Kelley, MRAA Content Manager

There’s a scene from the animated cartoon movie “Cars” that features Fred, the severely rusted but operational superfan of up-and-coming racer Lightening McQueen. You see, Fred, which describes as fictional Stodgey Suaver LT model, is passionate about racing and being a car, but has lost his new-car shimmer and has had to rely on Rust-eze, a “bumper ointment” that promises to eradicate the ugly decay that is rust. However, it hasn’t worked for him and the tent full of vehicles in the post-race celebration tent. You see, rust, whether it’s in your sales process or on a bumper, is hard to stop. That is, unless you focus on removing it and becoming more “polished.” No, the MRAA doesn’t have its own anti-rust ointment, but we can help your sales department prevent more rust from settling in and recalibrate your sales skills.

Many dealerships across the country have told us that their sales teams, while still talented and passionate about boating and serving customers, have lost their sales aptitude over the last couple years. It’s not intentional, it’s just that for many of them they were selling mostly whatever could float, because customers demanded it and just wanted to be on the water. Several dealers we’ve spoken with called it “order taking” rather than sales. Follow-up often fell to the wayside, especially for a lot of pre-sale leads.

It’s important to refocus on selling again in order to remove any rust that has set in and those robotic-like habits some salespeople learned the last few years. (Created with Dall•E)

But now, as inventory levels have recovered and demand has reduced since the COVID-19 stretch – with less disposable income and uncertainty lingering for the economy – sales departments across North America have had to brush off their rust and sharpen their selling skills. Another boat show season has ended and spring has arrived. Spring means the snow is melting and the grass is greening up because warmer weather is ahead. And with the seasonal change comes more consumers thinking about boating because it’s fun for friends and family and remains a healthy escape from societal pressures. It’s the perfect time to focus on improving your sales tactics and nurturing leads.

7 Tactics to Restore Your Sales Game and Improve Pre-sale Follow-up

  1. Personalize Communications: Use the lead’s full name and tailor messaging to their specific interests and needs. (Watch a course on personalization)
  2. Utilize Automated Email Campaigns: Set up a series of automated emails to send to leads at regular intervals, providing them with relevant content and updates about your dealership and its offerings. (Watch a course on email campaigns)
  3. Use Retargeting Ads: Utilize retargeting ads to keep your dealership top-of-mind for leads who have shown interest in your offerings but have not yet made a purchase. (Watch a course on digital advertising)
  4. Provide Valuable Content: Offer useful and informative content such as buyer’s guides, maintenance tips and boating-related news to engage your leads and keep them interested in your dealership. Discover Boating, powered by NMMA and MRAA, offers you tools and articles to do it. (Watch a course on creating a better user experience)
  5. Offer Incentives: Provide incentives such as exclusive discounts or limited-time offers to encourage leads to take action and make a purchase. (Watch a course on moving inventory through positioning and promotion
  6. Leverage Social Media: Use social media channels to engage with leads and showcase your dealership’s offerings and customer service. Most importantly, answer their questions to show your team’s passion for boating and boaters in general. Build trust and it could very well pay off for you in building a devoted customer. (Watch a course on leveraging digital media)
  7. Personalize Sales Calls: During sales calls, while pulling from your customer logs, reference the lead’s previous interactions and RELATIONSHIP with your dealership. Not just previous sales, but previous personal notes such as their kids going off to college or their alma mater’s most recent victory in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. You can then provide them with personalized product recommendations based on their interests and needs if that’s the direction the discussion goes. (Download the Guide to Phone Skills)

Need to watch a course or download a guide listed above but you’re NOT an MRAA Member?

I have no doubt that your sales team is every bit as passionate as it once was for boating and serving your customers. However, since the market has shifted “back to the norm,” it’s the perfect time to revisit your sales skills and reinvest in your sales department.

Beyond the seven quick tips above, MRAA Silver and Gold Members can also dig deeper and commit to the course for sales professionals we call, Master the Sales Basics: A 5-Course Series. Learn from top industry experts the fundamentals of sales, keys to building value, follow-up tactics, questing & listening skills and how to get more people to the desk.

It’s important to enhance your sales proficiencies because you want to create an outstanding retail experience – both digital and in-person – for your customers. The Marine Industry Certified Dealership program provides you with a customizable blueprint to establish efficient and effective processes in order to standardize your customer relations management, facility and website upkeep and performance planning. The installation of tracking and trending customer experiences, sharing of best practice and employee satisfaction survey will also strengthen a Certified Dealer’s operations by addressing wins and areas of need in sales and elsewhere.

The new MRAA sales training course and Certification opportunities will give your sales department a much-needed refresher, helping your dealership continue to shine in the eyes of your customers. Refurbish your sales efforts correctly and you will build superfans, like Fred, for your own brand.

Let me know if you have started any sales training, do monthly role-playing sessions with your team or have implemented any other process to help your sales department restore its shine. Reach out:

Jerrod Kelley, MRAA Content Manager dressed in blue shirt standing outside by a tree