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Q & A with MDCE opening keynote Tim Sanders

By Tim Hennagir

At this year's Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, Tim Sanders will deliver the opening keynote.

His talk, “How Digital Can Supercharge Your Business,” will offer advice on how to leverage customer media, inexpensive content, and targeted social ads to help dealers bring clients through the door.

Sanders is an Internet pioneer and New York Times best-selling author. He was an early member of Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s broadcast.com, which had the largest opening day IPO in history.

After Yahoo acquired the company, Sanders was tapped to lead their ValueLab, which enabled sales teams to close hundreds of millions of dollars of new business through rapid collaboration.

In 2005, he founded Deeper Media, which provides consulting and training services for leading companies, trade associations and government agencies.

The 2017 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will be held Dec. 10 to Dec. 13 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. MDCE is produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry. We talked to Sanders about his plans for this year's keynote.

Boating Industry: In preparing for your keynote, what's impressed you the most about the marine industry?

Sanders: One of the things that really impresses me is that this industry has a separate focus on sales and marketing. The MRAA community has a real and distinct focus on the sales process, and driving awareness. I’m impressed with that. It’s not just about marketing.

Boating Industry: What’s important for dealers at this conference to know about you?

Sanders: I’ve had a 25-plus year career at helping industries increase their size, including legacy industries like the phone industry, or emerging industries, like the Internet. I’ve worked with everyone from Southwestern Bell to Mark Cuban. That’s a real contrast, if you think about it. I bring a lot of diverse career experiences. The boating experience is exhilarating. Using digital marketing to recruit or reactive boaters is one thing I’ll be talking about during my MCDE keynote.

Boating Industry: What did you learn most from the launch of the mobile phone industry?

Sanders: I learned you really can measure digital marketing and advertising for results. You can go beyond measuring eyeballs, or as they say in the new world, the vanity metrics. You can close the loop.

Boating Industry: What lessons did you learn from your experiences with ValueLab?

Sanders: What ValuLab taught us is that advertisers and a marketers must understand the true goal of the customer. In the case of a marine dealer, the goal is selling boats. We have to do everything we can as marketers and dealers to get together and measure how many boats we can sell with digital advertising. That’s going to require a lot of work on everybody’s part. We have to do a better job about choosing digital marketing partners who can deliver more than just traffic reports.

Boating Industry: Explain how dealers can use the concept of disruptive collaboration to their advantage.

Sanders: Too often, we collaborate with other people who share our perspectives as well as our disciplines and experiences. Not surprisingly, we keep inventing the same old stuff and rejecting the new. What I want to talk about at MDCE is how those working in the marine industry can find radically new partners with perspectives and work with them on creating marketing and recruiting decisions. Once of the easiest ways to disrupt the conversation is partner with a Millennial who doesn’t have any experience with boating but has a world of experience in marketing and digital. We need to listen to them and their sense of what is possible and what works, and when it does work, integrate it.  If I’m on the dealer side, I’m going to collaborate more with manufacturers.

Boating Industry: Can you explain dealstorming, and apply it to the boating industry?

Sanders: It’s bringing in all stakeholders to get unique sets of perspectives. It’s not accomplished by a flawless pitch and a powerful close. That’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Dealstorming is about overcoming common objections that keep holding you back from closing a sale. In every dealership, if you were able to get a very honest and clear answer from salespeople about why a deal didn’t close, if you could track all of those reasons, what you usually going to find is that one particular objection is killing over half of your deals. That’s the math that I’ve seen with years and years at Deeper Media. Usually, that objection is less than two years old. It’s not the same old objection. Think about it as brainstorming for sales.

Boating Industry: What do you hope dealers learn from your MDCE keynote presentation?

Sanders: I think they should take away a sense of optimism, that digital marketing is going to be the first tool that we’ve ever had that can truly measure. There’s not as many intermediaries in the digital realm. Those who go home and try new things and talk to new partners are going to see huge results in just a few years. That’s what I want for them to take away from this keynote.

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