Turn off the news!

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Between one daily news station proclaiming the economy is “slowing down” and another reporting it’s “red hot,” and both citing some economist who says this while another says that, boat salespeople must be rolling their eyes and thinking the whole subject has become a thumb-wrestling match.

So here’s some advice, in the paraphrased words of Harry Truman, to print and post on your office wall:

We need to cut off one hand of every economist so they can't say “on the other hand.”

Then turn off the news. Today's 24-hour “news” cycle can be nothing but a confusing destroyer of confidence.

I’m not sure any news channel, broadcast or digital, is worth consuming. I believe they all subscribe to a business model in which bad news is good news, good news is bad news, and the only thing worse would be no news. Forget it all and sell some boats. These are very good times.

Today's economy is nothing short of spectacular. The unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, the lowest in a half-century. July saw 164,000 news jobs added, which means a record 157,288,000 people are working. Moreover, employee wages are up. The prime rate dropped to 5.25 percent. Wall Street has been seeing all-time record highs. Consumer confidence is high. Interest rates are low. Yes, these are very good times.

Many industry veterans will recall a very good friend of mine, John Dobbertin. In 1979 he started what quickly became a very successful national exposition business, PEMCO. John reminds me that in ’79, the prime rate was a whopping 21.5 percent, and unemployment was at 10.8 percent. It’s clear evidence that sales success can be enjoyed even in tough times.

So salute with an internationally recognized hand gesture anyone who grumbles about today’s conditions and start closing deals at these lower interest rates.

There’s no question that, with all the political noise ringing in our ears, it’s increasingly difficult to keep focus and move forward. Worse, we can expect no let-up from this crap for another 14 months. Dealers should check out on politics and check in on their sales efforts. It’s time to turn up the marketing effort, perhaps by looking back at previous follow-ups.

Review your recent prospects with whom there was enough interaction to capture a name and phone number. Look as far back as the boat shows from last fall and winter. Hopefully there was some follow-up at the time, and maybe the prospect wasn’t ready and was scratched from the active list.

While you’re waiting for the next customer to walk into the showroom, re-establish contact with the folks on this list. Send an email or mail a note to them. They might be ready to buy now. After all, follow-up is the most important part of the sales process. But too often salespeople are distracted by current activities and fail to play the long-term game.

To illustrate: For many months my wife and I were considering enhancing our home by installing brick pavers in our driveway and walkways. We’d gotten prices from several contractors awhile ago, but the timing wasn’t quite right for us. While the installers we initially contacted provided detailed written quotes by email, only one stuck with it and periodically followed up with an email or phone call.

Her most recent follow-up reignited our motivation to get moving on the pavers. And she offered to bring us the latest samples (the equivalent of an on-water test ride), which resulted in our decision to go through with the project. The fact that she continued to show interest in me and my wife made us want to do business with her.

Again, it’s a great time to sell!


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