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Keeping the Sales Team Motivated and Sharp

The low inventories in most dealer showrooms these days can be a problem for keeping the sales team motivated and their sales techniques honed. “I only have a couple of boats in stock – everything I’m getting in is already sold. It’s frustration city,” a good friend and dealer in Ohio said recently.

His comment got me looking at my notes from reading and listening to Zig Ziglar, who was appropriately called the “Undisputed King of Motivation” and was famous for his power-packed seminars, several of which I attended.

Here are a few of Zig’s words of wisdom — in no particular order of importance — that you might find worthy of sharing with your sales team.

“Yesterday ended last night.” We dwell too much on past negatives. Most problems resolve themselves in time — inventory levels will eventually return to normal — and looking forward with high expectations is where we want to be.

“You’re not selling hardware anymore; you’re now in the rejuvenation business.” Boats are seen as a place of renewal for today’s customers. In the past, sales teams tended to sell, and buyers responded to the latest hardware. But today’s prospects are all about experiences — in other words, finding rejuvenation. If the boat doesn’t represent joy or escape in the prospect’s mind, there’s no sale. It’s the fantasy, the dream that salespeople must address.

“The most important part of selling is the conviction of the salesperson.” It’s the salesperson who must see and genuinely believe that the boat will provide what the prospect values. It’s information and a feeling that the salesperson conveys in the presentation that makes or breaks a deal.

“You can get the best education, motivation in your car.” Forget listening to Jimmy Buffet. Anytime a salesperson is in the car, a motivational or sales technique recording should be playing (

“Customer service is being redefined.” Expertise is what today’s prospects and customers want from a salesperson. After all, the boat can be purchased from any dealer. It’s the salesperson’s boating knowledge that’s key. The prospect or customer must consider the salesperson a key resource.

Successful selling today is learning how to ‘sneakerize.’ ” We’re in the age of the individual customer. For example, go to a sneaker store. There’s a sneaker for virtually every activity. Individualization is important in boat sales, too. Salespeople must see every prospect as an individual with special needs or desires, then fit the product to meet those desires.

“Create your own future.” A good database can be the lifeblood of successful selling. Salespeople can ensure their future by adding to their database prospects who may not become customers for a year or more. But staying in touch with as many prospects as possible can prove a winning tactic. And it couldn’t be more timely. With the winter boat show season kicking off, th3ese events are the No. 1 source for adding to a salesperson’s database.

“Become indispensable to customers.” If customers don’t need you, they don’t need what you’re selling. Always be on the lookout for ways to be a resource for both prospects and existing customers. Communicate, supply information, be helpful and maintain contact.

“Get inside your customer’s head.” A salesperson’s workshop is in the prospect’s or customer’s head. If you know what’s going on there, you can be helpful and respond appropriately. Put another way, it’s the customer’s priorities that are most important, not the salesperson’s.

“You better make it easy.” Our society is not into difficult anymore. If a salesperson wants a prospect to buy that boat, the process must be easy. It’s the times we’re in. Look at prepared foods in grocery stores, personal shoppers, Uber eats, and so on. Dealerships must get rid of everything that makes buying difficult.

“The buying cycle has gotten longer.” The pandemic-driven sales surge notwithstanding, the time between thinking and buying is getting longer, primarily because customers perceive they don’t have time to make a mistake. They do more early research, enabled by the Internet. However, the notion that boats will be sold primarily online going forward ignores the fact that buyers demand that tactile experience when purchasing a big-ticket item, such as a boat. They want to touch it, smell it, sit in it and envision their family boating on a sunny day.

“Most sales are lost because the salesperson quits on the prospect too soon.” Maintaining contact is critical today but always in a clear context: “I’m here for you when you are ready.”


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