Who is the 2nd easiest client to sell?

A referral of course! But, how do we get more of them?

A mentor of mine used to say; “Anything that happens by accident can be made to happen predictably with the right systems.” When it comes to referrals, this is a true statement indeed.

How would more referrals impact your dealership?

Imagine getting an extra 10 referrals each year. Could you sell five of them? What if you generated an extra 20 referrals… could you sell 20 of them?

Would that be valuable to your bottom line? Do the Math and see for yourself!

Average Sale       ________

Extra Referral Sales   X       7

FOUND MONEY     $_______

Oh, by the way, do you think you can hold your margins better on a referral? I would hope so!

So, what does it take to get more referrals?

First, let’s look at this from the referrers perspective. Think about a time when a friend has said, “I’m looking to buy a widget.”

Assuming you’ve bought one yourself, your response is probably something along these lines (depending on your experience)?

Option No. 1 – “Don’t buy a widget, from ABC Widgets. It was the worst decision I’ve ever made”

Option No. 2 – “Yeah, ABC Widgets is pretty good”

Option No. 3 – “Go see Bob at ABC Widgets, they do a great job.”

Option No. 4 – “You absolutely must get an XYZ Widget and nothing else. And, be sure to go to ABC Widgets and ask for Bob because you won’t find a better Widget, sales person or company to work with! They did this, that and the other and were head and shoulders above everyone else I talked with.”

Hopefully none of your clients have the first reaction. If that’s the case, step No. 1 is to fix what’s broken at your dealership.


If your products and dealership experience bring about response No. 2, you may get a few referrals but they won’t be much easier to sell than a cold prospect.

Think back to a time when you made a big ticket purchase and the company did a good job. Not a great job, but a good job – what you expected.

Did you go out of your way to refer them?

Probably not. And your clients do the same thing.

When you deliver a nice boat and provide good service, that’s what your clients expect. It’s like going out to dinner and having clean dishes, silverware and a polite server who provides good food. That is what you expect but the restaurant did nothing more to provide an exceptional experience.

Response No. 3 is getting better.

Doing a great job is a step in the right direction. Hopefully your dealership does a great job. Does a little more than deliver a clean boat with good service. Now, you are on the right track for getting more referrals.

But the way to really boost your referrals is to ensure when your clients talk about you they say something along the lines of No. 4.

When you hit that level of what I call in my book, “Dealership Reality” referrals will go up automatically. Your job as a dealership owner or general manager is to make sure each and every client has that level of reaction.

It could be as simple as an outstanding delivery process. An easy purchase process. A nice bottle of champagne at delivery. An unexpected gift after delivery. Figure out what you can do at your dealership to really WOW your clients. And then DO IT!


Once you provide an experience so exceptional that they can’t stop talking about your boat business, now it’s time to pour gas on the referral fire.

How do you do that?

It’s simple. Just ask in a polite way. And, make it brain dead simple for them to refer you.

Create a simple referral program that you promote in your e-newsletter, print newsletter, business card, on hold message, website and anywhere else your clients will see the message.

You can also create a special “referral ask” campaign a few times a year where you go directly to your clients and proactively ask them for a referral.

When you provide an exceptional experience, the heavy lifting is done. The referrals will come flooding in when you ask.

And, the best part: My coaching clients that follow my referral program find that once a client refers once, they are likely to referral again and again!

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, a top producing boat salesman and a 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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