Dealer Outlook

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It’s Who’s in the Exhibit That Counts

Let’s face facts. Today there is so much product parity you can no longer win on product design, quality or price alone. As the public walks through the boat show they’re going to see every dealer has shiny boats, added warranties, low interest rates, NMMA Certified stickers and so on. So what’s going to make you stand out? Simply the one thing no one else has – your people.

How your exhibit team presents itself can be the trump over any polished boat or good warranty. I call it “boothsmanship.” It’s the image and atmosphere your staff creates by the way they man the display. Here, then, are my Top 10 suggestions for good “boothsmanship”:

1. Always Wear Your Badge on Right Side. When you shake hands, the prospects eyes naturally run up your right arm to the badge.

2. Wear Standard, Conservative Clothes. While there is no “proper” dress anymore, staying on the reserved side of the spectrum is what most prospects identify with and makes them feel comfortable. And always, dress clean and pressed.

3. Always Greet People With a Smile. Sounds easy but it actually gets more difficult as the show hours and days go on so it takes an effort. But studies prove smiling sales people sell 33% more!

4. Never Sit Down – Always at the ready. Comfortable Shoes an Absolute Must. Surveys confirm prospects see salesmen sitting around as a negative. Forget about chats with other sales people. Prospects indicate they “don’t want to interrupt” the conversation. When your personnel need a break, they should take it away from the exhibit.

5. Never stand in or obstruct an entrance or access point. Stand to the side, visible, making eye contact but not in the way or threatening!

6. Never smoke, drink and eat in the exhibit. These are all “turn offs,” according to prospect surveys.

7. Try to make appointments with current customers during the slower days of the show. Save the busiest times for prospecting. Similarly, if a complaining customer should come into the exhibit on a busy day, move him to a more private area (closing room) or out of the exhibit for “coffee” altogether. No matter what, always remain polite & professional.

8. Do paperwork, particularly lead or contact cards right away. It’s natural to want to do this after the show or the next morning. But, information gets lost quickly or the card never gets completed. Do it now is best.

9. Ask about prospect’s level of buying interest in the first 3-4 minutes since most research indicates a show contact will average only about 5 minutes.

10. Every sales person must stay focused on the objectives of the exhibit. After all, boat shows are a not a social event or a few days away from the showroom. Boat shows are “contact sport” and a lead numbers game.


3 comments on “It’s Who’s in the Exhibit That Counts

  1. Patricia Kearns

    Mr. Schultz hit the bullseye with every dart. Let me add just one more point. Pay attention to women! I am a career marine industry professional with thirty years of boat shows under my belt, both as an exhibitor and an attendee. It still shocks me to endure the ignorance of show exhibitors who ignore me when I step into their booth or onto their carpet. Worse yet, the ones who do acknowledge my presence often just offer a weak nod but don’t approach me.

    It used to make me mad but now I’m sad. Sad that these folks don’t see my money. They see only my gender and their sociological bias is so deeply ingrained that they cannot rise above it to think of the potential profit that my presence might represent. Our industry is wailing about a decline in sales. Just think what could happen if boat show booth personnel saw women as just as potentially viable as a prospect for their product as the men who come into their arena. Just think!

    Some in the boat business have begun to talk the talk but few are walking the walk and that walk could be an errand to the bank to deposit my check. Caching. Caching. Oh, yeh. I don’t have a husband but I do have a boat and I love to shop for boating toys. In fact, a youngster in a paddling specialty shop lit up when I came into his store last week. I asked him about paddles (the kayak kind) and I know he didn’t see me as a girl because he treated me as though I was the most important person he’d met that day. I am old enough to have been his mother and then some. I bought a $200 paddle from him. Chump change in terms of paddle technology but he listened to my need and filled it, filling his cash register at the same time and I went away happy. How’d he do it? He told me to pick out a few paddles and he’d launch a kayak to let me try them out. When I went into the shop, “I was just looking.” When I left, I was a customer and I’ll be back for more of the “stuff” he showed me while I was there, like the very cool kayak rack for my mid-life crisis pickup truck and the gloves that will make that paddle feel like an extension of my arm.

    You know, I don’t remember his name but I do remember what a nice day I had and how good that perfect paddle feels when I dip the blade on each and every stroke.

    Sure, women play an important in the joint decisions that couples make to buy boats but some, no many, women are independent and buy boats for themselves. Here’s a challenge for you. Double your pleasure; double your fun. Imagine that every woman, no matter that she’s alone, with her husband or significant other or with other women friends, has a checkbook and there might be a way to get her to write a check to you right then and there, in our booth or on your boat at a boat show. Make your day? It could make mine, too. Even if only a small fraction of those women in boat shoes or high heels spend their money with you, do the math. If ten men write you a check during a boat show and only one woman does, you are looking at a ten percent increase in your gross. Not hard to take, is it? Most of us would cherish a two percent increase. Pay attention to women. It’s good for you and good for the boat business.

  2. Patricia Kearns

    Inre Jim’s comment or lack of one. I’m unsure if this is a complete comment, a snipe or what. I’m hoping that Jim’s comment has just been cut off at the pass, so to speak. Let’s see it all, please, especially if Jim has some insight as to what the problem is, if it isn’t gender.

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