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Let’s face facts. Today there is so much product parity you can no longer win on product design, quality or price alone. As the public walks through the boat show they’re going to see every dealer has shiny boats, added warranties, low interest rates, NMMA Certified stickers and so on. So what’s going to make you stand out? Simply the one thing no one else has – your people.

How your exhibit team presents itself can be the trump over any polished boat or good warranty. I call it “boothsmanship.” It’s the image and atmosphere your staff creates by the way they man the display. Here, then, are my Top 10 suggestions for good “boothsmanship”:

1. Always Wear Your Badge on Right Side. When you shake hands, the prospects eyes naturally run up your right arm to the badge.

2. Wear Standard, Conservative Clothes. While there is no “proper” dress anymore, staying on the reserved side of the spectrum is what most prospects identify with and makes them feel comfortable. And always, dress clean and pressed.

3. Always Greet People With a Smile. Sounds easy but it actually gets more difficult as the show hours and days go on so it takes an effort. But studies prove smiling sales people sell 33% more!

4. Never Sit Down - Always at the ready. Comfortable Shoes an Absolute Must. Surveys confirm prospects see salesmen sitting around as a negative. Forget about chats with other sales people. Prospects indicate they “don’t want to interrupt” the conversation. When your personnel need a break, they should take it away from the exhibit.

5. Never stand in or obstruct an entrance or access point. Stand to the side, visible, making eye contact but not in the way or threatening!

6. Never smoke, drink and eat in the exhibit. These are all “turn offs,” according to prospect surveys.

7. Try to make appointments with current customers during the slower days of the show. Save the busiest times for prospecting. Similarly, if a complaining customer should come into the exhibit on a busy day, move him to a more private area (closing room) or out of the exhibit for “coffee” altogether. No matter what, always remain polite & professional.

8. Do paperwork, particularly lead or contact cards right away. It’s natural to want to do this after the show or the next morning. But, information gets lost quickly or the card never gets completed. Do it now is best.

9. Ask about prospect’s level of buying interest in the first 3-4 minutes since most research indicates a show contact will average only about 5 minutes.

10. Every sales person must stay focused on the objectives of the exhibit. After all, boat shows are a not a social event or a few days away from the showroom. Boat shows are “contact sport” and a lead numbers game.

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