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Ignore the “Panic du Jour!”

Every day, the news is filled with one crisis or another, real or imagined. Television networks prepare frightening stories to get ratings while magazines and newspapers flash alarming headlines to spur newsstand sales. The result: people’s expectations get lowered and their fears elevated by the media’s relentless negative skew. 

Just think, for a moment, about who benefits from promoting a “panic du jour?” Newspaper publishers increase their fortunes with stories that make 5% unemployment appear to be some sort of national disaster. Book authors know they can get big bucks for best-sellers predicting some catastrophe, economic or natural. Then, there are the movies raking in big profits portraying possible terrorist attacks. Drug companies take in record revenues with every possible new malady. Software designers make it with every new story about a possible Internet virus. We’re being fed a steady stream of media-induced negatives – today’s version of “fear mongering,” if you ask me!

Why do negative TV news shows, magazines and books get to us so easily? 

When our lives are filled with prosperity and abundance, as has been the case in the past decade or so, we have a tendency to start fearing the worst and we want to know what could go wrong, according to Paul Lovic, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, professor Lovic noted: “It’s much easier to scare than [to] unscare. We trust people who tell us we’re in danger more than people who tell us we’re not in danger,” he said.

Even in our own industry we’re reading reports of declining sales, earnings and reorganizations. And, if we add to those reports a daily diet of negative news from the mainstream media, it shouldn’t be surprising that we can become accepting of lowered expectations. 

And therein is the real danger for everyone, particularly the sales team, in every dealership this spring. I call it falling into complacency, which is what results when we become comfortable with any circumstance. In this case, if we’re getting comfortable with low expectations for sales this spring, that complacency will guarantee the low expectation!

No, we need to accentuate that sales have always been made in every economy and the only thing that will keep a good salesman from making them this spring will be complacency. It’s time to do whatever it takes to keep complacency from getting rooted in your store.


16 comments on “Ignore the “Panic du Jour!”

  1. Nyla Deputy

    Your words on the topic of negativity sound really good. You are a good cheerleader. But how can a poor boat salesman make a sale when there is no one walking through the door? No matter how good of a salesman a guy or gal is, if there is no traffic coming in the door, isn’t it a little hard to sell a boat? You say that sales have been made in every economy and I agree with the statement. But they are far and few between in a bad economy. You can starve to death waiting on a sales commission to pay your bills at the end of the month.

  2. Concerned

    I think you have missed the point Nyla; and that is “waiting on a sales commission” won’t get the job done. No doubt you have been to boat shows this year and have client lists to address. No doubt a few people at least have walked through the door and you have their names and addresses as well. And if you are not using websites and email, you must start immediately.
    When things are tough, we always must work that much harder and spend that much more time massaging a sale. The Perato Principal tells us that 20% of the salespeople in any industry make 80% of the sales. Your choice is to be a 20% salesperson, or an 80%er. Nothing personal, just some thoughts from an old salesman and manager–there are three ways to sell more boats–talk to more people, talk to more people, and talk to more people.
    Norms point was to get past the negatives and accentuate the positives–we can all do it with the effort required. People will buy boats; getting ones piece of the pie may take extra work, but the 20% crowd will surely succeed.

  3. JR Goodman

    Being a Ex-boatstore owner and salesperson, the toughest job of a owner is to keep a good team together and to keep everyone upbeat in the face of all the negative news. But it can be done. When things are well and rockin and rollin, we forget the basic 101 of selling and get to pick and chose who to sell too. When things get tough, you have to become a real salesperson or get out of the business as many will do, when things get tough. Anyone and I mean anyone can sell when floods of people are walking in the door, the true salesperson can sell in any economy. Case in point. There is a realtor in Florida, ( one of the worst in the country you say?) whose business is up 26% this year. I went looking for a second home, there was 2 offers on the house in the first 3 days it was on the market, but yet the news will say worst ever, blah blah, I with Norm, get up shake yourself off and go sell. Here is a favorite quote , I just got in my email:

    “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

    Walt Disney (1901-1966)
    American entrepreneur, movie producer and showman

  4. Ron Hendrickson

    NORM, you are right!
    We have been selling Fishing boats for 53 years. Just never give up and only talk about the world of BOATING,FISHING,FAMILY and FUN.
    The customers come to our stores to get away from the B.S. press and talk about wheir boats and new boats and good times.

  5. John Wisse

    The “drive-by” media are focusing their aim on boating and other recreation pursuits just as you have described to sell a few more newspapers, gain a few more TV viewers and increase website visits. But certainly there are those who are impacted in the marine industry as Nyla points out and it’s long overdue for the industry to really get creative to turn a down market into an up market.

  6. John Ulrich

    I agree with your optimism and while true, sales are made in every economy, the current state of the marine business offers some great challenges. Polling my dealers, traffic seems to be increasing. This is due to spring finally starting here in the Northeast. Those prospect walking through the doors are armed with lots of information about our brands as well as others. Financing is and will continue to be a problem. Product selection as well as special orders are difficult at best as dealer inventories are somewhat low (I feel the pain for those with non-currents)and factories are reluctant to promise timely delivery for one unit to be delivered several hundred or even thousands of miles away. Factories are also plagued with lower staff and reduced inventory levels as are their suppliers. Kind of a trickle down effect. Now, what can be done? First, be educated. I mean really know your product. Know your customer, their concerns and objections and learn how to overcome those. Second, practice your profession. Use your skills as a salesperson, not an order taker. Those days are gone and those who cling to the “good old days” of selling are going to be disappointed with their incomes this year. Third, sell your inventory. If it’s off an interest assist plan, time to let it go. Stop the cash drain. Keep your dealership healthy. Know how to cross sell other services and concentrate on this. Your dealership has more than just boats and motors to sell. Fourth and I feel most important, sell the fun of boating. Paint that picture. Remember we sell discretionary income products, and the challenge is how to convince someone who is struggling with the news media’s stories of doom and gloom that boating is fun, a great stress reliever, a family activity, a great way to spend what discretionary income that is available.

    All that being said, I too am adapting, learning how to reach my customers more effectively and trying to keep ahead of the bill collectors. It can be done with a little creative marketing and thinking outside the box. Oh, and for those who read this, I am an independent rep on commission only.

  7. Terry Wood

    Hi Norm,
    I agree with you! As you know I have been throught it all,22% interest rate, luxury tax, no water, you name it and in 27 years i’ve seen it all and we all made it through it. There’s sales out there and you just have to work harder to find them. Be more creative in your approch. The deals might be alittle short on points but they are out there. once a boater always a boater!!!
    Thanks Terry Wood
    p.s. norm let me know how to get ahold of you

  8. Patrick Turner


    I hope you are not just sitting at your desk waiting for some to walk in the door. As a sales person, I believe the first rule is “don’t rely on foot traffic”. Make the traffic come to you.

  9. Kevin Mahoney

    Keep on pushing the positive. I did an e-mail to my dealers and forwarded a note to many of the marine associations in Florida to challange the media to go after positive news….who in Gods name isn’t looking for positive right now.

  10. Wade N. D'Waters

    I’ve never seen you in your cheerleaders out fit as Nyla says you wear but it might not be a bad idea. Nyla describers herself perfectly as a POOR boat salesperson. If you sit waiting for the customer to come to you, you indeed will be poor. Sales no matter what you sell is a contact sport! If they are not coming to you then get out and find them and get in front of them. When I sold to OEM’s in all industries I never once thought that Ford, Genie, Honeywell, AB, GE, Heathkit, Intermatic, Jabil or any other customer was coming to me.
    IF no one is coming to see Nyla then I suggest that Nyla put on a chicken suit or an old fashion bathing suit(brightly colored of course) and go out to the edge of the road with a sign saying free boats yesterday….When the folks stop and some will, that is your opportunity to start talking(selling) and get to know them & maybe you will be suprised as some of those strangers you just got to meet, will buy something from you. Good selling Nyla put that cheerleader outfit on.
    Is is not time to put and end to the grow boating tax on motors???

  11. dave boso

    Wade that stuff works for what you were selling, when only price makes a diffrence. But when a customer lays big bucks for a toy he has to want it, and twisting his arm does not work. What does is great knowledge of the product, and a willingness to service what you sell. The whole idea is to sell the customer and then have him come back for all his boating stuff, for the rest of his life. It’s more like fishing than selling, you don’t jerk on the first nibble wait till he takes the bait and runs with it. The bait is not the boat, the bait is you and how you come across.Boaters don’t like chicken suits , or striped pants.
    I know.

  12. Wade N. D'Waters

    Davey BoSo- Please my friend, It works with everything. You have no idea what I was selling so your coment that it was all price is without merit. Later in your comment you get close to what I was selling. What I sold and continue to sell is me. It does not matter about price. If you know your customer or the target customer it is never about price as you should already understand what the econmic makeup of your customer is.
    So if boaters will not respond to chickens how about Popeye & Olive Oil suits? I know for a fact that they respond to high school girls in cheerleader outfits as the #100 certified dealer of the year uses them and is not having a very bad year from what I hear.
    Davey I think fishing as you described is sport. Sales is not sport. If I fished agianst you I would very much bag more fish than you, as you sound like a fellow who would use old technology utilizing a hook & fly in an Orvis outfit. Where as I would embrace new technology & inject electricity into the mix & stun the fish and then go collect them in a net as they float to the top. I would only take what is legal & only in the amount that I can eat or put in the freezer. Here’s the disclaimer for the PC democrats & wacko’s: Don’t worry the shock wears off in a short period of time & the fish resume to their natural state unharmed.
    Now that selling!!!

  13. Wade N. D'Waters

    Dy-no-mite is illegal to poseses without proper Federal & State permits. Plus it is not a very Green way of fishing and can prove to be unstable. Those that fish using it are exactly that. Also you would be damaging much of the fish so most of your catch would be worthless, also your undesirable bye catch which you would leave behind would create a stink as it rots in the water where you just blew it up. Another factor to concider is: your way is not renewable as it kills every thing. You then would be, rightfully so, looked upon as an Eco terrorist that the above mentioned organizations want to make all boaters into. Good Job! Davey. As a sales technic this is right up there with the slimmy used car guys who sell flood cars as low milage clean cars …. Isn’t it time to go back to Jones locker, Davey?? ;-)))

  14. dave boso

    See See that’s the problem with most of the world ,,, they don’t know the diffrence between reality and a put on. That is why there is so much hate. everybody needs to chill a little and roll with the flow. i love to kid with everybody even customers.Al is not serious and the world does not hang on every word

  15. Anonymous Bob

    Back on topic, please!!

    Remember that the media sensationalizes their product as a way to increase sales. Teach your customers and your salespeople to focus on their individual circumstances and take the media messages with a grain of salt.

    What’s the first thing we are ever taught when we face situations that might cause stress? “Don’t panic”. The current economic environment needs to be tempered with the “Don’t panic” motto. It’s temporary (yes, it’s painful), but this too shall pass.

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