Q&A with MDCE closing keynote speaker Ryan Estis

For the first time, this year’s Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will feature a closing keynote speaker, designed to send you back to your business inspired and ready to use all of the information gathered at the conference.

Ryan Estis will deliver this high-energy address, sponsored by the members of the Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame – MarineMax, Galati Yacht Sales, Prince William Marine and Legendary Marine.

Estis is the former chief strategy officer for a national advertising agency and delivers more than 75 live events a year. He has been named one of the “best keynote speakers ever heard” by Meetings & Conventions magazine. He also writes a popular blog on business performance at ryanestis.com.

We talked to Estis to find out some more about how he’ll be closing out MDCE 2014.

What can the MDCE attendees expect to learn from your talk?

I talk a lot about sales transformation. I think the most important thing is that I’m going to give specific, actionable ideas that can help your attendees grow their business. An important theme of the conversation is going to be focused on how customers are changing the way they make buying decisions and what that means for a sales organization, particularly in a retail environment.

The objective is always to have people walk out of there with ideas they can immediately put into practice.

You are our first closing keynote for the conference. How does that make it different than an opening keynote and what’s your goal as you wrap up the conference?

I’m actually going … to take a step back and offer a couple of suggestions relative to the whole agenda of content. One of the biggest opportunities, but also a challenge, is that one of the most important parts of the whole conference is what happens the next week when you get back into your business.

You get back to the office and you have to dig out from 800 emails and 46 voicemails and it’s just so easy to set those ideas on the shelf and go right back into what you were doing. I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’m going to make sure everyone walks out of there with three or four things they’re going to do right away Monday.

I have the opportunity to be the last impression, and the last impression needs to be the lasting impression on how to bridge the gap between the conference content and getting back into your business and taking action and that’s what I’m going to focus on.

You talk a lot about creating a good sales culture. Why is that important?

Culture is the character of the organization. It’s less about what you do than how you do it. I think it’s really important for owners and leaders to consider today.

We have a pretty significant culture in corporate America. Sixty percent of the U.S. workforce today is classified as under-engaged.

Employee expectations have evolved. They expect more out of their work experience today. It is so critical, especially in a competitive sales environment. Having a unique environment where your employees are engaged … people become the advantage in that kind of setting.

Earlier you talked about how the customer has changed. What are some of the biggest changes and how can dealers take advantage of that?

There are two big trends that will directly affect the dealer. People are busy. As far as leisure time, that’s just being cut into. When you think about the way we’re working today, people are working the 9 to 5 shift, then it’s come home, put the kids to bed, then it’s the 9 to midnight shift. I just read an article [that said] it’s more than 60 percent of Americans that believe they have to work on vacation. We’ve become a work-obsessed culture. People are overwhelmed, so they’re protecting and guarding their time.

The other thing’s that changed dramatically is information. Prospective buyers today have access to just as much information as dealers do. They can walk into a dealership and be just as informed as the sales professional on the floor. That’s a colossal shift.

You’re meeting your customer in a very different place today and they have very different expectations about the role that you provide. We have to look for new ways to add value and we have to significantly upgrade the buying experience.

Our customers have changed but, by and large, most sales organizations have not changed to meet customers where they are today.

What’s important for the dealers to know about you?
I’m a practitioner. I spent 15 years running sales and strategy for an advertising agency, so my whole career has been spent working with organizations to help them tell their story, connect with customers and grow their business.

I think I’m going to be able to leverage that background in a way that’s very relevant and relatable to the people in the room.

The MDCE is co-produced by Boating Industry and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. To learn more, visit MRAA.com/MDCE.

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