Boat Broker Training: Discover The Top 5 Mistakes In Boat Sales

September 6, 2018

Selling boats is one of the most difficult professions out there and this is why...

boat broker training should be a requirement for every company out there.

As a boat broker, you are exercising the profession of selling which is unfortunately not very well perceived by the general public.

A survey conducted in 2010 by a worldwide management training organization found that the least trusted profession in the US was politicians. Sales person came in 2nd after a long run in the top spot.

Secondly, what’s make it even more difficult is because of the product you are selling.

  • You’re selling a product that only 1% of the population can afford.
  • A product that is last on the list of things we need in life
  • With one of the longest buying cycles.
  •   And all of this in an ultra-competitive and price-driven market.

But, boat sales can also be simple and rewarding. If you know what you are doing.

This is why training in boat sales is so important and can make such a huge difference in your activity. So it goes without saying that 20% of the things you do brings 80% of the results. But if you apply this rule a second time, now 4% of the things you do brings 64% of the results.

So this is what we are going to try to identify:

The golden fundamentals in sales.

I wanted to make it super simple for you to identify the 5 most common mistakes, so we need to respond to these 3 essential questions:

#1 Why we buy?

#2 Where we buy?

#3 How we buy?

While responding to these 3 questions, I will also share 3 fascinating examples from the automotive industry that generated billions of dollars in sales.

Why We Buy

There are hundreds of reasons or factors that influence us to buy a particular product over another.

Do you know the largest seller of second-hand cars in the US? They are called CarMax.

The first CarMax location opened in September 1993.

Last year, they made $14.3 Billion in total revenue selling almost half a million cars and placing them in the Fortune 500 list. So why do customers buy at CarMax and what makes them so successful?

CarMax understood that in order to get clients to buy their cars they needed to find the answer to the following question:

What are our customers’ top fears?

In this case, the 3 main fears people have prior to purchasing a second-hand vehicle are:

#1 They don’t want to haggle

#2 Buyers remorse

#3 Buying a lemon

They responded by offering the following policy:

Low, no-haggle prices
Get a fair price up front without spending hours negotiating for it. (sales personnel are not paid on commission)

5-Day Money-Back Guarantee
If you change your mind for any reason, you can return a car hassle-free within 5 days.

125+ point inspection*
Experienced technicians put every vehicle through a rigorous Certified Quality Inspection—over 125 points inspection.

Mistake 1: Forgetting to Respond to Your Client's Fear

The problem with many brokers and boating companies is that they focus too much on the product. You see, boats are not a commodity but something people want.

Every time I travel to boat shows and I look at sales people talking to prospects, they constantly push a product and its features onto them. Clients usually buy boats for different reasons than you might think.

People in sales keep selling the product when that is not what the customer is buying. Let me share my favorite definition of the word ‘selling’ by Dan Sullivan.

‘Sales is to get someone intellectually engaged in a future result that is good for them and get them emotionally committed to take action to achieve that result.’ 

Now, there are two extremely important things in that definition:

Firstly, there is no mention of the word product. Remember you are not selling a boat or a product; you are selling a visualization of a brighter future that your client wants with the boat.

Secondly, the most important words are: « emotionally committed. »

The best way to sell them is to focus on the experience and emotions associated with your products and not pushing the features and benefits.

In other words, you have to Sell the Cruise, Not the Ship.

The best boat broker training should not focus on the features or even benefits but on what the clients are really looking for:

✔️ Sell the experience and excitement of owning a boat.

✔️ Sell the time they will spend on the water.

✔️ Sell how beautiful the boat will look at the marina.

✔️Sell how happy they will be.

Mistake 2: Sell The Features Or Benefits Rather Than Emotions

Beepi is a new startup specialized in second-hand car sales.

The company started in October 2014 and is changing the way people purchase second-hand cars. They recently raised over 300 million at $2 billion valuation. 

What are the reasons behind their phenomenal success? 

What strategy are they using and how were they able to build a billion dollar company so fast?

The first thing noticeable about Beepi is that it is an online car sales company: 100% of their sales results comes from online transactions.

To demonstrate this, I will show you exactly what changed in the buying process between a few years ago and today and why it is so important to implement the best online strategy to benefit from this massive switch in consumer behavior.

In 2004, Google partnered with a marketing agency called Shopper Sciences. Google asked them to conduct field interviews to over 5000 shoppers who recently made a purchase in 11 different categories from automotive to restaurants. Their goal was to explore what marketers called the “Zero Moment of Truth” when consumers look online and seek large amounts of information on any product prior to making a purchasing decision. The goal of the study was to identify what influenced consumers decisions on the path to purchasing but also understand the changes in the buying process over the last few years.

The result of the study is summarized in a book called Winning The Zero Moment of Truth (link to free book). This book is one of the best marketing studies I have ever read.  It changed the way I perceived sales and marketing and summarized the switch in the way people buy over the last 15 years.

But before looking at the results of this fascinating study, let’s understand how buying patterns have changed over the last 10 years.

So this is what a classic buying funnel used to be:

The Classic Sales Funnel

✔️ Stimulus (Advert, referral, need, etc)

✔️FMOT (in-store buying experience)

✔️SMOT (Product experience, )

Now let’s compare to a new Sales funnel used today:

The New Sales Funnel

✔️ Stimulus (Advert, referral, need, etc)

 (Social Media, Review, Forums, Videos, Articles, etc)

 (in-store buying experience)

 (Product experience, resulting in repurchase, upgrade, referral, etc)

Nearly 90% of consumers make decisions well before the actual moment of in-store or online purchase.

Consumer decision-making prior to the actual moment of in-store or online purchase — the so-called “Zero Moment of Truth” — has become increasingly relevant and must be taken in consideration in your sales strategy.

88% of U.S. consumers now engage in “The Zero Moment of Truth” prior to making their final decision.

In 2011, consumers consulted an average of 10.4 times new media or traditional sources before purchasing. This amount was just over 5.1 times just two years before!

In a purchase of an automobile, consumers consulted an average of 18.1 times online prior making a final purchasing decision.

So it is probably even more in boating as the buying cycle is longer and the purchase is more expensive.

Today, 70% of the buying decisions are made before somebody talks to a salesperson. We switched from self-promotion to education.

The companies that adapt to this new trend will be the most successful.

Mistake #3: The Sale Is Usually Made Before & Not After Meeting The Broker

How we buy: Do you know the only car company that increased car sales during the 2009 recession?


Let me tell you why.

Do you know the biggest fear people have during a recession?

Fear of losing their job. 

And this is exactly what Hyundai offered.

They offered a guaranty stating that they would buy the car back from the clients in the unlikely event that they lost their job. Hyundai scored a big marketing win with its incentive program that allowed owners to return a new Hyundai within a year if they lost their job.

Called the Hyundai Assurance program, the South Korean automaker sweetened the deal later by offering to pay up to three months of car payments before taking the car back so that owners would have time to look for a new job. (reciprocity method)

While the rest of the auto industry was hit with slumping sales in 2009, Hyundai sales were up in January and even in February, compared to 2008.

This is why drafting your sales presentation around the product rather than the customer will cost you a lot in sales.

Let me share with you 3 other relevant examples.

Let me share with you 3 other relevant examples:

 As Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon Cosmetics said so well “In the factory, we make cosmetics, in the store, we sell hope.”

This quote from Steve Jobs referred to the conception & manufacturing but I believe that it can also be applied in the sales process.

CEO Howard Schultz built a billion dollar empire with this strategy.

He said:

We are not in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business serving coffee. 

Because of this, he was able to have the consumer pay 5 times more for a cup of coffee. It went from a $1 commodity product to a $5 luxury treat.

Start by understanding the consumer behavior & motivation then work back towards your product.

You have to architect your sales based on this process and not fall in the trap of pushing the product features or benefits.

The customer doesn’t care about you and your products, THEY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES.

Mistake 4: Putting Your Focus On Your Products Rather Than Your Customers

By now you start to have a good idea of the most common mistakes in sales. They all have a recurring element to them. They are done because we always put ourselves BEFORE the client.

This is the most costly mistake in sales. Billions of dollars are wasted every year because salespeople forget that principle.

Remember that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Here is an interesting story: A socialite lady had a chance to have dinner during the same week with both British Prime Minister contestants Gladstone and Disraeli. 

She reportedly said: “After dinner with Gladstone, I thought he was the most interesting person in the world… but after dinner with Disraeli, I thought I was the most interesting person in the world…”

Disraeli won the election.

And again, it is something I notice every time I travel to boat shows and look at the behavior of salespeople when they start giving a tour of a boat to a client. They go on and on about how wonderful their boats, company or themselves are and forget that the client doesn’t care about them.

So I wanted to help you set up the stage for the perfect sale.

And for this,  we are going to take the analogy of a conductor prior conducting a masterpiece symphony.

There are 2 essential tools the conductor uses before starting the piece:

Essential Tool #1: The Tuning Fork

So what does a tuning fork do? It sets the right tone through the whole duration of the piece.

And I want you as a sales person to set the right tone at the beginning just like a conductor. So here is what you are going to do; you are going to ask them the magic question.

The question is; “JOHN, MARY, there are hundreds of great things I can tell you about this Boat, but what is the most important to you?”

That question will set the tone. So if they tell you the cockpit, you start your presentation with the cockpit and you keep asking them more questions e.g. “what is it about the cockpit that you like?”

Once you are done with the cockpit, ask them “other than the cockpit, what is the other part of the boat that is important to you?”

Essential Tool #2: The Metronome

The second tool the conductor uses is the metronome.  The metronome will set the pace.

Now a boat broker has 2 ears and 1 mouth, and this is exactly the ratio you need during the conversation.

Let them talk twice as much as you do.  Be genuinely interested in their wants and needs.

Remember the Disraeli story, he won the lady’s preference because he was asking her a lot of questions.

And remember that only 7% of the communication is considered verbal so listening doesn’t mean only with your ears. Make sure you are fully attentive with your eyes, body language, tone, etc.

Mistake 5 : Thinking That The Customer Cares About Your Or Your Products

Considering everything we’ve just covered, the final top mistake is to believe that your prospect or customer cares about you or your product.

Again, recall the story of Disraeli. And instead of trying to come across as interesting, or attempt to make your products (boats) seem interesting…

Here’s what to do instead:

Become more INTERESTED in other people and you (and your products) will naturally become more interesting to others.

Got it? Good!

Want More Powerful Boat Sales Tips Like These?

If so, then join my Free 7-Day Training called:

Traditional Boat Sales Is Dead, The Old Way Of Selling Boats Doesn’t Work Anymore

For more information, head on over here:

To your success!

— Vincent Finetti
Founder & Instructor
Yacht Sales Academy

P.S. Try a listing strategy from my FREE Listing ebook here.

P.P.S. I’m doing an exclusive virtual Listings & Sales Workshop with a small group next month to go deep in applying my best strategies to your brokerage business.

Would you like to join us? If so, go here and enter your name and email for more details!

P.P.P.S Check out my client results here.

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