So, you say, you dont really have any expectation that youll sell boats at your upcoming in-water show. Believe that and you can make it your reality. But it will take some effort to avoid making sales. So, here are some sales avoidance techniques you can use:
1. Dont exhibit at all. Yes, its certain sales will be made at the fall shows. And, while shows wont create a market that doesnt exist, they will still draw in those prospects that are actively looking. So, even if attendance wont be quantity, its guaranteed to be quality and the best way to avoid that is to be absent from the show.
2. Make it tough for people to find you. In my experience, dealers do a good job of identifying themselves at indoor shows. But, at in-water shows, they often fail to make themselves stand out. Think about it -- hundreds of docks all looks pretty much the same. Moreover, most show managers do a poor job of identifying the docks by directional or information signs. I know . . . looking back, I didnt do it well, either. So, the prospects looking for you will have a hard time finding you and you can avoid sales if you make your display blend in with all the others.
3. Board by Appointment Only. This is a winning strategy to successful keep people off your boats. Surveys show most people are offended by this requirement. So, if you want to avoid sales, this should do it. But, if you dont want to be so obvious, the next suggestion can work well, too.
4. No shoes! Sure, many boaters will remove their shoes to board, but many others simply wont. Perhaps its because they once had their shoes walk off at a show or someone accidentally kicked one into the water! But its a good technique to keep prospects off your boats. The no shoes sign also sends a message that you wont take the time to put runners over the carpet inside the boat or that shoes will scuff up the deck. But I know a dealer who successfully turns the no shoes mentality to his favor by inviting people aboard his boats with their shoes on while telling them you cant hurt a Tiara! Of course, dont copy that if youre trying to avoid sales!
5. Sit down in the cabin. Dont be in the cockpit to greet people. Make sure people on the dock can see you lounging inside. Theyre likely not going to disturb you. To make certain they wont, hold your cell phone to you ear and lip sync something! No one will feel comfortable interrupting you. Dont like the cell phone trick? Then, get another member of your sales team and hold a deep conversation. Looking totally absorbed with another employee is a sure-fire way to avoid a possible sale.
6. Make boarding difficult. Forget creating a safe ramp or other method, complete with a handle or handrail so prospects feel confident they can get from the dock to the boat. Women are particularly sensitive to boarding methods, even more so if kids are along. So, keep those wives and kids off the boat and you wont be bothered by a sale.
7. Dont put general info where prospects can see it. That means, dont put a good, readable sign on the boat that gives basic info like make, model and price so people can easily read it from the dock. That way, theyll have to ask you for basic facts, and youll be on the cell phone and unavailable to answer, of course.
The bottom line: The atmosphere at in-water shows is less formal than at the winter indoor shows, and it should be. But that also seems to lead us to a more lay-back attitude toward the shows potential. In-water shows are equally important and powerful as indoor shows, and the displays of boats dockside need to be presented as effectively and worked just as hard if sales are to be made. The fall shows, even in this recession, will produce sales for those exhibitors who are seriously up to the task.