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The educational spectrum of a boat buyer

By Matt Sellhorst

Have you ever considered the boat buying process from the buyer’s point of view? What is their experience? What stages do they go through? And, most importantly, how can you use these insights to deliver exactly what they want and need at each stage?

That’s exactly why I share the “Educational Spectrum of a Boat Buyer” as one of the foundational components with all of my coaching clients. Looking at the process from the buyer’s perspective can give you some very profitable insights.

It’s important to know that everyone goes through this process when making a purchase. For some it may take a few days, others a few months, and some even a few years.

To dive a little deeper, let’s break the spectrum into three buckets. On the far left you have what I refer to as Researchers, in the middle Evaluators and on the right Now Buyers.

Researchers

In the research stage, buyers are gathering information and getting all their basic questions answered.

The prospect may be comparing the cost of boat ownership to building a pool or taking a big vacation. (Or figuring out if upgrading or changing boating styles makes sense.)

It’s important to know that a lot of this research is done online, via emails and phone calls before coming face to face with your sales staff.

Evaluators

As the prospect moves down the spectrum they are still searching for information. However, they are diving deeper, and they begin evaluating.

• Evaluating one style vs. another (pontoon vs. deck boat)

• Evaluating one brand vs. another

• Evaluating one dealer vs. another

The prospect is probably building boats online, scouring BoatTrader.com and message boards to confirm what he has read on dealers and manufacturers’ websites or has been told by a salesperson.

The prospect is focused on price to a certain extent but mainly to see what his investment would look like in a general sense. Typically, a price drop must be significant to have an impact at this stage.

Now Buyers

An interesting thing happens moving into the Now Buyer stage. The prospect goes from “thinking” about buying a boat, to “I am buying a boat.” The now buyer is trying to answer one question: “Is buying this boat at this price the best decision I can make?”

This is the most fragile portion of the sale and the prospect is most fearful about making a bad decision. And, as you would expect, they are also most sensitive to price at this stage. They’ve almost bought the boat in their mind, and they are really want to feel as though they have the best deal on that particular boat from that dealer at that time.

What’s interesting is that it’s the salesperson’s attitude and confidence that the value they deliver is higher than the price charged that has the most impact on the how the buyer perceives they are receiving the best deal.  Said another way, if the salesperson thinks their prices are too high, so will the Now Buyer. If the salesperson has confidence that the value they deliver is greater than the price charged, the Now Buyer will likely feel the same way.

Why is the educational spectrum so important to understand?

When I first discovered this concept, there were a few ideas that instantly became crystal clear to me.

If the only marketing and sales messages you use are price based and discount focused, two-thirds of your audience will likely not be motivated. Plus, you are often turning value buyers into price shoppers, driving your margins down unnecessarily.

Being a source of quality information can allow you to build strong relationships with Researchers and Evaluators giving you an advantage when they become Now Buyers.

One way to sell more boats is to never give up on a prospect because they may one day turn into a Now Buyer. That’s one reason I’m so excited about possibly sharing more insights on the 24/7 Selling Machine follow-up concept at the upcoming Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando this December.

Now, here’s this month’s challenge. Take a moment and think of how looking at the buying process in this way can help you sell more boats today, and more boats in the next three to five years. I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and success stories at Matt@BoatDealerProfits.com

 

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the insight Matt. This is equally important for those of us that support the marine dealers in their effort to provide superior data for the researchers, options for the evaluators and a solid value proposition for the now buyers in the online marketplace.

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  2. great piece. dealers have to assume that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of shoppers have performed research online.

    [Reply]

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