As published on Boating Industry


Wow, this had better be a grand ole article with a title like that right?

As I write this, I’m putting the finishing touches on my MDCE game plan and marketing plan.  As I read the course outlines in the sales and marketing tracts, I see some amazing presenters.  Several have been guests on my podcast and all with rock solid insights for you to gobble up like a delicious donut.

And yet, there is one area that I anticipate will cost way too many dealers lost sales and unnecessary discounting even after implementing the tactics they have learned.

And, it is this one simple thing…

But, before I just lay it out there, let me give you some research that I think will provide the mindset shift to make you slap your head and say… “Of course, how have we missed that for so long!”

A company called the Inquiry Handling Service that handles inbound lead generation for companies in hundreds of industries and product types across the nation did some research that shines a bright light on the #1 mistake you’ll discover shortly.  What they did, was a ‘Did you buy?’ survey.

Yes, it’s just what it sounds like.  They made outbound calls to survey millions of leads across hundreds of industries and products and asked, ‘Did you buy that product you inquired about?”  Resulting in a simple yes or no (regardless of brand) answer.  Just, “Hi Bob, a while back, you inquired about a pool table.  Did you buy a pool table yet?”

Here’s what they discovered.  About 50% of leads bought and 50% of leads did not buy the product they inquired about.  Not a huge revelation yet right.  But, get this; they did this survey every 90 days for 3 years.

What do you think the percentage of prospects who bought, bought in the first 90 days of inquiring about a product?  Do you think was more or less than those who bought after 90 days?

The eye-opening survey results that should revolutionize your boat business

Only 15% of buyers bought within the first 90 days..  85%, a vast majority purchased after the 90 day mark.  That means, of the leads you drive (online & offline), over 85% of the buyers likely won’t buy for 3 months or more.

So, let’s look at a bundle of 200 leads generated by a variety of sources.  As  the marketing person or ad agency, you’re super excited.  Everything is hunky dory so far.  You are tracking your cost per click, cost per lead just like you’re supposed to do and everything looks perfect.

Here’s where the mistake comes in.  The sales person follows up like all 200 of these leads are ‘Now Buyer’ (reference the Educational Spectrum article from June 2016).   They call the lead the second it comes in.  They send a persuasive email, text, invite them to an upcoming event and are all over this lead.  And, they make 15 sales.  They are amazing.  They capture 100% of those buyers who are buying in the first 90 days.

But, then the next 200 leads come through and they do the same exact thing with them.  Remember of the 200, 100 will likely buy.  But only 15 will buy in the first 90 days.

Are you seeing the mistake yet?

The mistake is in the sole focus of budget, effort and attention on generating the next batch of new leads.  And, not having a consistent strategy to nurture, build value, build a relationship and capture the additional 85 people that will likely buy over the next 32 months.

Here’s my feelings on why this mistake is made so often.  As owners, managers and even manufacturers, it has been beaten in to your heads that you must follow up quickly on all leads.  Which I totally 100% agree with and will always help you sell more.  That quick response will help you sell a higher percentage of the 15 people who buy in the first 90 days.

But, when’s the last time you heard a manager or manufacturer ask, “When’s the last time we’ve contacted the leads we invested in generating last quarter… last year… or even 3 years ago.”  I can tell you, it virtually never happens because everyone has moved on to the next batch of new leads.  And, the expectation is that the sales person is responsible for 95% of the follow-up with those leads, in a mostly manual effort.

I suggest that any dealer or manufacturer can transform their results when they focus more of their budget and attention on educating, motivating and making non-price offers to the leads they have already generated.

That’s the #1 mistake.  If you are making it, you are likely missing out on 85% of the potential value of the leads you are generating.  (both online and off line)

The fix… well, that’s simple now that we know the mistake.  And, the answer is this month’s challenge.

This month’s challenge:  Develop a 24/7 Selling Machine that captures the majority of value in your leads.  Those buyer’s who will likely buy from day 91 to day 1,095.  And, I believe and know from experience in our industry it can take even longer than 3 years.  Create a plan for emails, phone calls, retargeting/remarketing, events, newsletters, direct mail, personal phone calls and more that extend until the prospect says, I’m no longer interested in buying a boat.  If you create your 24/7 selling machine and email it to me at, I’ll send you a free copy of my latest book; “Boat Dealer Profits” for taking being an action taker!