Dealer Outlook

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Winter boat shows

Love Ďem or hate Ďem, the boat shows are here again. I canít recall a winter show season more critical to retailers (manufacturers, too) than the one that began last Saturday when the 2008 New York Boat Show opened. Shows in every major and secondary market will rapidly follow.

Accordingly, for the next few Dealer Outlook Blogs Iíll use this space to share some thoughts and ideas that dealers might consider when going into this winterís shows. Throughout the last 34 years, Iíve produced well over 100 boats shows and worked with an estimated 21,000 exhibitors. That has given me insight into why some dealers always succeed at shows while some others donít.

Attitude is the foundation for success. No surprise in that statement! But, I canít count the number of salesmen Iíve met over the years whose mindset was the show is just a ďnecessary evilĒ or ďweíre here because we have to be.Ē Whatís wrong is they failed to recognize that by exhibiting in the show they were being handed a unique and powerful opportunity to make money! Sales personnel should be loviní shows, right? But as Iíve observed, the negative attitude doesnít stem from a dislike of the show per se, but from a failure to recognize that boat show selling is different and much more difficult than what theyíre accustomed to in the showroom. Unless they understand and prepare for the differences, they wonít be mentally ready to do the show. Here are some key differences:

Time: In the showroom, a sales interaction with a prospect will last 15-45 minutes. At the boat show, a meaningful dialogue must be established in just 3-5 minutes. Peace: The showroom is quiet and full attention is placed on the prospect. At the boat show itís chaotic and noisy. The noise and distractions get even worse as the day goes on and sales people tend to loose focus in later hours. Contacts: In the showroom, 2.3 sales contacts are made, on average, per day. At the show, a sales person who doesnít make 3-5 prospect contacts per hour isnít doing the job. Comfort: In the showroom, sales personnel are often seated and relaxed. At the show, they should always be standing.† Competition: In the showroom, none. At the show, itís all around all the time.

The bottom line: Working a boat show is much harder, mentally and physically. It takes a determined effort to stand up and stay focused, hour after hour, show day after show day. Good managers will make certain their sales team clearly understands these differences and is mentally tough for the task. As popular author/sales trainer Ken Blanchard puts it: ďI donít want people who are interested in reaching our objective, I only want people who are committed. And thereís a big difference. People who are interested in doing something will do it only when itís convenient or theyíre motivated. People who are committed to something will do whatever it takes!Ē† Take a committed team to man your exhibit this winter.


One comment on “Winter boat shows

  1. Denny Backis

    When I speak with dealers and ask, are going to the boat show with your boats and display your inventory with agressive prices? Many are responding that its a waste of time, nobody is buying at the shows anymore, the cost is too high that you do not get a enough return sales on the money you spent on show space.
    I need to tell you this, yes it is a strange year but you still have to go out and get the customer. This is what a boat show is all about. There not coming to you, you have to go to them. What better place to do this than the boat show. Getting names and leads.Sureyou will get your hull thumpers and your trailer tire kickers, however what I am seeing is the real buyer asking the questions at this years boat show. They are giving their name and phone numbers along with the boat model they are interested in. Some dealers are having a steady pace and hitting the same unit sales numbers as last years show.Also the follow up. How important this is after the boat shows.You have to really work a little harder to get the customer who gave you their information into the showroom.
    Now if he or she doesn’t respond after all that work at the show and says they are serious in doing something in the spring or they won;t come to see you in the next week or so., Take the boat on a trailer to their house and work it!! Nothing better for the neighbors all to come out and see the boat your customer just might buy. It is all part of way in making a sale happen.

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