Love em or hate em, the boat shows are here again. I cant recall a winter show season more critical to retailers (manufacturers, too) than the one that began last Saturday when the 2008 New York Boat Show opened. Shows in every major and secondary market will rapidly follow.
Accordingly, for the next few Dealer Outlook Blogs Ill use this space to share some thoughts and ideas that dealers might consider when going into this winters shows. Throughout the last 34 years, Ive produced well over 100 boats shows and worked with an estimated 21,000 exhibitors. That has given me insight into why some dealers always succeed at shows while some others dont.
Attitude is the foundation for success. No surprise in that statement! But, I cant count the number of salesmen Ive met over the years whose mindset was the show is just a necessary evil or were here because we have to be. Whats wrong is they failed to recognize that by exhibiting in the show they were being handed a unique and powerful opportunity to make money! Sales personnel should be lovin shows, right? But as Ive observed, the negative attitude doesnt stem from a dislike of the show per se, but from a failure to recognize that boat show selling is different and much more difficult than what theyre accustomed to in the showroom. Unless they understand and prepare for the differences, they wont be mentally ready to do the show. Here are some key differences:
Time: In the showroom, a sales interaction with a prospect will last 15-45 minutes. At the boat show, a meaningful dialogue must be established in just 3-5 minutes. Peace: The showroom is quiet and full attention is placed on the prospect. At the boat show its chaotic and noisy. The noise and distractions get even worse as the day goes on and sales people tend to loose focus in later hours. Contacts: In the showroom, 2.3 sales contacts are made, on average, per day. At the show, a sales person who doesnt make 3-5 prospect contacts per hour isnt doing the job. Comfort: In the showroom, sales personnel are often seated and relaxed. At the show, they should always be standing. Competition: In the showroom, none. At the show, its all around all the time.
The bottom line: Working a boat show is much harder, mentally and physically. It takes a determined effort to stand up and stay focused, hour after hour, show day after show day. Good managers will make certain their sales team clearly understands these differences and is mentally tough for the task. As popular author/sales trainer Ken Blanchard puts it: I dont want people who are interested in reaching our objective, I only want people who are committed. And theres a big difference. People who are interested in doing something will do it only when its convenient or theyre motivated. People who are committed to something will do whatever it takes! Take a committed team to man your exhibit this winter.