Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Taking prospects for a ride!

A prime result of exhibiting in this fall’s boat shows will be the follow-up demos. But how salesmen approach each demo should be viewed as much more than just another part of the sales process.

So says prolific business author Geoffrey James in “How to Give a Killer Product Demonstration.” He points out that demos should be crafted by the salesman to do more than just show that the product performs as advertised. When done right, a demo should create in the prospect a gut-level feeling about how things will be better when they own the boat. It captures their imagination. “That makes the one-size-fits-all demo ridiculous,” contends James. “Because every prospect is unique, every demonstration must be uniquely matched to that prospect.”

Here, then, are some tips James offers to accomplish killer demos:

1. Research: Killer demos don’t just happen, they’re crafted. Try to learn what motivates a prospect, what he hopes to accomplish. Who is he — an angler, cruiser, entertainer, escapist? Why would he think this boat could give him what he wants? Once you’ve got a clearer picture of the prospect you can go to the next step.

2. A Compelling Story: A demo should never be a tour of features and functions. A killer demo tells a story, the prospect’s story. Based on what you’ve learned about the prospect, you “customize” the demo experience to touch on ways the boat meets his desires . . . a “day in the life” of the prospect when this is his boat, etc. That means taking time to develop a “script” that touches major hot buttons for your prospect.

3. Rehearsal: A killer demo is three times harder than giving a perfect sales presentation. You must simultaneously focus on the prospect, the effect the demo is having, and the mechanics of the demo. That’s why it’s utter madness to try to give a good demo without rehearsing it at least three times. “You can’t just wing it,” says James, and as you rehearse, here are some of his helpful tips:

• Never show a meaningless feature. Every feature you demo should tie directly to what you’ve learned about the prospect
• Use the demo as proof. Some prospects are disposed to think of reasons not to buy rather than to buy. A crafted demo “proves” that sales claims are true.
• Keep it simple. Show and tell about those features that relate to the prospects hot buttons and forget about the rest of the stuff the product does.
• Avoid techie-talk. Even if the prospect is technically oriented, don’t get too deeply into how things work – keep focus on what it does for the prospect.

4. Test beforehand: Avoid the painful demo – the one in which something fails to run! “Sales pros like to pretend that prospects will be forgiving, and treat a demo glitch as ‘one of those things,’” says James. “Wrong! A bungled demonstration tells the prospect, at a visceral level, that either you didn’t adequately prepare (in which case buying from you is probably a mistake) or (worse) you did prepare adequately and the product is a piece of crap,” he predicts. Check everything in advance.

5. Ask for the business. There is no better point in the sales cycle to ask for the business than after a successful demo. Presumably, you have just given the prospect an imaginative experience of what it’s like to own the boat. Buying, then, is a natural continuation of those good feelings.

Cleary, a researched, planned, scripted and rehearsed demo can give a salesman a real advantage. No demo should be “just another” demo!


2 comments on “Taking prospects for a ride!

  1. Christopher Kourtakis


    I would not agree with you more. The demo is not the time to show the features of the boat. It is time to show the customer where they could potentially use the boat, where they can go and enjoy the boat with their family.

    I work with sales professionals all the time to create the perfect route for a demo. Showing them how to perfectly demonstrate the functions of the boat without actually showing them the boat. Whether it is a small sack lunch that the sales person brings for the customers to sit and enjoy while at anchor or a cold beverage as they pull into a marina slip to see the facilities of the marina that they could potentially keep their yacht at.

    It is all about creating the lifestyle and showing them that life is better with a boat and how and what they have been missing for all these years.

    Even if this is the clients 3-4 or even 5th boat, there are getting into a bigger size or a different style. Show them how the new layout will change how they boat and what and where they can go!

    Thanks again for sharing. Great article!

  2. Tim

    Too right! When I gave demos, finding what was important to teh prospect was always job 1. Like you said, always emphasize the features that push those hot buttons, and help the prospect “see” him/her owning the boat and enjoying it immensely. Then, I seldom had to ask for their business, they couldn’t wait to write it up!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.