Boating Industry

March 2016

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20 | Boating Industry | March 2016 [ STEP by STEP ] constant training. Having the opportunity to build skills and learn new ideas keeps salespeople refreshed and more likely to close the sale. At Springline Yacht Sales, Dieterich and his team attend as many seminars and conference calls as possible through the associations in which the dealership participates, such as the Yacht Brokers Association of the Americas, Sail America and more. Association involvement "gives you connec- tion and networking with other industry leaders. The fly-by-night guys and the guys that don't do things right aren't at all the conferences and training sessions, and they're not involved in the industry associations," said Dieterich. "It gives you an opportunity to talk with them, speak with them and find out 'how do you handle this situa- tion? How do you do this?'" No matter what sales training you conduct or processes you implement, Sellhorst said the most successful sales department are those that focus more on the people coming to the showroom. "Everything they look at is 'how should this process be different? How can we make it A "NECESSARY EVIL" With the changing attitudes of prospects, are boat shows still a worthy sales tool? The short answer is yes. If you're looking to meet people "off the street," so to speak, you need to be at the show. "It's the best place to get leads. It's the best place to display your products. It's the best place to meet and talk to people. Because of the Internet age, people don't walk into the showroom any- more. It's very rare that someone is coming into this office that hasn't already established a long line of communication with us, via email or telephone," said Dieterich. The trick with boat shows is to deconstruct how we see them. In the past, dealerships were closing deals regularly at the show, but that's not happening anymore. However, it is still an es- sential method to allow customers to see the product and make the leap to visit the showroom. "Even though they don't really come in and do the paperwork at the boat show," said Kutuk, "we see a lot of customers come back to our showroom or stores, and they usually mention what prompted [them to stop by], and people say the boat show." The dealership uses digital displays, comfortable lounge areas and more to create a profes- sional-looking setup that attracts customers in and eventually leads to them visiting the store. Marine Connection won Best Boat Show Strategy for the Boating Industry Top 100 in 2013. Dieterich agrees that the boat show is all about presentation, but not just the booth. He said the presentation of salespeople is the most important aspect of a dealership's boat show. That means being "on" for everyone, even if those people don't look like the typical boat buyer. "You've got to remember that everybody that walks on board that boat is a potential client," said Dieterich. "You have to be on stage for everybody. I know it's tough, I know you've got to talk to 100 people to find one that really might be interested, but you've got to treat all 100 the same until you figure out whether they're interested or not." Dieterich will, as long as there is someone else at the booth, ask salespeople to take an hour break from the booth if they are getting burned out, because he would rather have employees come back refreshed and reenergized than ignore someone who comes in because they "might be just looking." "That's the best thing we can do at the shows, is really pay attention to everybody like they might buy a boat," said Dieterich. "Don't sit there and go on Facebook on your iPhone and watch 30 people walk by because you're tired of talking to people. You can't do that. You've got to main- tain that game face and that stage presence." PROOF IS IN THE PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE Sellhorst says product knowledge needs to be a top priority in any sales team's training agenda, as it helps build the proof needed to tackle the obstacles created by today's customer. "To get to the factory, to get the three or four key things that you have to talk about on every boat, that should just be second nature to you. You should be able to just peel those off," said Sellhorst. He added that product knowledge goes beyond your own brands. Salespeople need to know enough about their competition's brands to be able to offer proof for why their own brands are better. "You don't want to be derogatory to any one brand, but … you've got to then know what the competition does that you can take advantage of," said Sellhorst. "[You should know] 'OK, I know when I am competing against XYZ manufacturer, here's how they compare to our top three or four things, and I know I need to point that out.'" SALES APTITUDE Building a top-notch sales operation starts with having the right salespeople. Hiring people with a passion for boats is a helpful start, but it does not make one automati- cally successful in the art of selling boats. "You can have a great attitude, you can be positive, you can be confident and per- sistent, but if you just don't have the aptitude for sales, you're going to be miserable and you're not going to be very successful," said Sellhorst. Sellhorst encourages managers to ask applicants or salespeople or existing em- ployees to take a sales aptitude test to determine whether or not those individuals are right for the job. This will help find out information you may not be able to glean from the interview process or a "gut feeling." Here is a list of several sales aptitude tests you can use: The Rainmaker Group, Inc. ( Asher Strategies ( PsychTests ( Beacon Worldwide (

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