I talk with tons of dealers over the course of a month and often hear things like …

  • “Our sales team is just not motivated.”
  • “We don’t follow-up like we should”
  • “We can’t get good people, especially salespeople”
  • “Our salespeople can’t hold margins”

Over and over I hear these issues with salespeople from big dealers, small dealers, dealers in the U.S., Canada. It was a very consistent theme so I figured I’d try to offer some ideas.

When I work with dealers, I see this same issue all the time: crappy attitude and unwilling to change! And, it’s normally with long-term employees who have been through the wringer with you over years and even decades.

I’m going to share seven ways that my coaching members overcome this issue.

1. Interrupt their normal routine

It’s real easy to get in a rut at work. Especially with long-time employees who’ve seen the “good times” and are just worn out over the past five to seven years. They just long for the good times to come back.

Sorry to say, they won’t be back any time soon … if their attitudes don’t change.

So, interrupt their normal routine. Move their offices. Start a new morning meeting routine. Require they do a video boat walk-thru each morning before anything else.

Find something different that will jolt their normal routine they’ve done for years with a new positive action. Make it a change to environment or the start of their day, something that is a pattern interrupt and kick off with a productive start to their day.

(If your attitude is not on target, this can work for you as well.)

2. Recognize and reward the positives

Motivating an employee is not a one-time occurrence. It starts with a culture of recognizing the actions and behaviors you want from your employees. And, as the owner, you are responsible for the culture.

Good or bad, your employees and business culture starts with you. Next time you see an employee doing something you’d like to see more of, recognize them … right away, one-on-one: “Hey Bob, great job with that client, I saw you collect all of their information and enter it into our CRM system.”

Make a habit of seeing the good things, acknowledging them right away and everyone will naturally do more of those good things.

3. Create goals together (but not like you think)

When I work with my members on goal setting, it’s not just the big sales numbers we focus on. I like to break down even further into the actions that will create the large goals.

Create weekly or monthly goals for the number of out-bound phone calls, the number of quality personal emails sent, the number of video boat walk-thrus created, the number of testimonials gathered.

Do the same for service, storage, parts – any department where you have an issue.

Track all of these numbers somewhere in the dealership that everyone can see (except clients). This will motivate everyone to hit the goal or be encouraged by their peers.

Then, reward the achieving of these goals with a group reward. The entire company must achieve their goals (including you) and when they do, bring in pizza for everyone.

This type of goal setting will bring the entire staff together for a single purpose.

4. Create and implement systems

If you’ve been through a management training program or participate in a 20 group, you know how important systems can be to achieving high levels of success.

But, how do you create a sales or marketing system?

A system is just a set up of connected things or parts forming a complex whole.

Developing the framework for a sales and marketing system will take some time and effort. However, the results are a consistent game plan to convert more higher-margin boat sales (when done properly).

5. Start having fun again

Talking with boating industry folks these days, you hear a lot of pining for the good old days. And, it’s not just the good money everyone was making … it’s the fun they were having.

Manufacturer training, client appreciation events, dealer meetings, industry events, good times at the dealership. It almost sounds like the boating business was one big party back in 1996.

Well, why can’t you bring some of that fun back? No, it doesn’t have to be big expensive destination trip.

How about taking the whole dealership out for dinner to celebrate a big win? Do a team building exercise with the whole business. Make it fun, make it work related, but make it include everyone.

When’s the last time your techs, support staff, accounting, service, sales and whomever else all rallied around a single goal?

Take a step back from the day-to-day grind and figure out a few ways to put some fun back in your boat business.

6. Fire Someone (if necessary)

I know that doesn’t really sound like a motivational tool and I don’t want to sound harsh here… but sometimes people need to be fired.

If you have a team member who’s attitude is toxic, who’s effort is lazy, who’s work product is unacceptable and they haven’t made the improvements you’ve demanded … it may be time to let them go.

It can be very demoralizing for those on the team who do work hard, deliver excellent work product and have the right attitude to come to work every day and see the exact opposite getting paid week in, week out.

If you’ve done your part as a leader to motivate, train and change their behavior, it may just be time to part ways.

The former GE CEO Jack Welch used to say, fire the bottom 10 percent every year. Not only does it send a message to everyone else that we only keep winners but it also motivates the top performers when you recognize their achievements.

When you have only two, five, 12 or even 50 people in your company, that 10 percent number doesn’t really work. But, if they need to go, take the right steps for your business and allow them to move on to another company where they are a better fit.

Your staff will likely say,“I can’t believe you didn’t do that sooner, that person was a major road block to our greater success.”

On a side note, if you have hiring needs and want to ensure you hire the best candidates, you may want to check out this site:

Here’s to a Motivated Sales Culture in your boat biz for the 2016 selling season!

Matt Sellhorst is the author of the book “Marine Marketing Strategies” and Head Profits Coach at Boat Dealer Profits. Sellhorst was also the winner of the MDCE Best Ideas Contest, Boating Industry’s Movers and Shakers Bold Moves award, top producing boat salesman, speaker and presenter at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo. He now helps dealers, brokers and manufactures sell more boats with proven sales and marketing systems.

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