Boat Buyers & Yacht Brokers: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

October 3, 2018

“ Are you f&*#ing serious? You just bought a house without telling me!”

Her tone of voice immediately made me nervous.

And so, I responded with a soft voice: “It is ok baby, we talked about this a few times and I thought you would be ok with it, I was busy and forgot to tell you.”

I then added ”And it is not like I bought a sports car. It is an investment for our family.”

The more I talked to my wife, the more I dug myself deeper into trouble. I also realized I had made a monumental mistake by not informing her about this significant purchase. After another painful 15 minute argument, my lovely wife came to the conclusion that I couldn’t buy anything more than $500 without asking her permission. The outcome wasn’t that bad! So, I agreed to inform her of any purchases of $500. However, I had just got away with a purchase almost 1 thousand times this amount.

The lesson? When it comes to buying we all act differently, but those differences come down to 3 decision factors:

Instinctual –  Emotional — Rational

The instinctual factor is often associated with our fear of the sales environment.

Our brain is pre-programmed to focus on the negative and this natural behavior is called negative bias. To understand it, we need to go back thousands of years to when we were cavemen.

We had an instinct and necessity to develop awareness in response to life-threatening risks. This is why we often ignore the positive aspects of our life and instead primarily focus on the negative events. As a result, the general public tends to focus on all the negative aspects of the selling process rather than the benefits they can get from it.

A survey conducted in 2010 by a worldwide management training organization found that the two least trusted professions in the US were politicians and sales.

There is nothing you can do about it. All sales interactions usually start with a negative feeling from your prospects. Your job as a boat sales professional is to know this rule and do everything in your power to avoid it.

The second factor is emotion.

Sales people often focus on selling the facts when it has been routinely proven that it is the emotional trigger that pushes people to buy. Whether you’re selling a canoe or a mega yacht, the buying decision is the same: emotionally driven.

One of the first and very persuasive pieces of evidence came from Dr. Antonio Demasio when studying a patient named Elliot. Elliot had lost the ability to experience emotions due to a brain tumor. He was a perfectly rational creature. Demasio discovered that Elliot was pathologically indecisive because he couldn’t experience emotions. He struggled to make even the smallest decisions and would spend hours figuring out what to eat for lunch. When presented with two commercial offers, he would spend all day deciding which one to choose. This experiment clearly explained how vital emotions were in decision-making.

Finally, there is the rational factor.

A man sees a brand new boat at his local marina and instantly falls in love. However, he can’t bring himself to buy the boat based on a feeling, so he reads the specs for technical details about the powerful engine, safety features, and fantastic handling abilities.

He wants the boat because it makes him feel good. But he only buys it when he can justify the purchase rationally.

In a previous article titled: How to sell a Mont Blanc Pen, I wrote a dialogue to demonstrate the best ways to sell luxury items.

During a fictional sales dialogue, the customer said: “This pen looks great but I don’t need it”.

The sales rep responded: “I understand, people don’t buy a Mont Blanc pen because they need it, they invest in them because they are beautiful writing instruments and make them feel good.”

You see how he switched from the rational to emotional factor?

In his book, How Customers Think, Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman demonstrates that only 5% of consumer purchasing behavior is rational based and 95% is instinctive & emotional on a subconscious level. Unfortunately, businesses keep spending 95% of their time focusing on the 5% that  hardly matters.

The emotional aspect is even more important in our industry. The boating industry is one of emotion and passion. We are selling something that people don’t need but want. As soon as you sell a ‘’want’’ you become dependent on so many factors around you.

But if you come down to the essentials, buyers are only seeking 2 things during the decision process:

1) Trust (likability, authority, empathy, reciprocity, etc)

2) Information (price, value, specificities, benefits, and emotional connections with the product)

A few years ago, information was available essentially through the sales reps so they had significant power in the selling equation. But today, this reality has changed and salespeople are no longer the drivers of the sales equation. The customer is in control because they now have access to the information online.

Several studies demonstrated that nearly 65% of the sales process had happened before the salesperson was even involved. Embrace the new reality and the concept of letting your customers take control of the sales process.

Buyers want power.

The more power you give, the more they will want to buy. That might be the reason why Amazon or Alibaba became the biggest companies worldwide: customers like online experiences because they are in control.

There is a huge mismatch between the way businesses promote and sell their products and how people buy.

The other day I was reading a new fantastic sales book called ‘The Sales Acceleration Formula’. The author is the co-founder and sales director of Hubspot and has hired hundreds of sales persons and built a $100 million company.

After hiring several dozens of sales reps and gathering lots of data from his sales team, he observed that the characteristics that are traditionally associated with performing sales people (outgoing personality, aggressiveness and strong objection handling abilities) weren’t represented at all among the firm’s top performers.

Hubspot’s statistics demonstrated that individuals who were intelligent, helpful and respectful of the clients’ needs outperformed the other aggressive and high-pressure sales reps.

To help you become the best salesperson, I wanted to use animal analogies to identify the most appropriate sales approach in today’s market.

New buyers no longer tolerate being pressured into making a purchase. Forget the shark or Wolf of Wall Street’s hostile personality. The egocentric “I want to take advantage of you and see you as prey or a victim” no longer works today.

It is not because there has been a switch in power to the customer that you will get sales by going the opposite way.

The people pleaser, social worker attitude will not get you far in sales.

The right sales approach in today’s market is to be like the Saint Bernard. You must be strong, friendly, authoritative and in control with a helpful and attentive attitude. Just avoid the slobbering!

So to summarize, all buyers act differently, but their actions are based on 3 decision factors:

Instinctual –  Emotional — Rational

Whatever their buying motives, they are fulfilling 2 fundamental desires:

Seeking trust & information.

Because of the digitalization of our world, there was a shift of power from the salesperson to the buyer. As a result, the old traits associated with performing salesperson no longer apply today.

So, what does apply?

Good question.

And I answer that question in detail and depth during Wee 2 of my Sales Masterclass for Boat & Yacht Brokers.

Specifically, during this week we look at how you can adapt to the significant change in how prospects are buying boats & yachts in 2018

If that’s something that interests you, and you’d like to learn more, then I encourage you to check out the Sales Masterclass, here:


— Vincent Finetti
Founder & Instructor
The 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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