“If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” – Henry Ford

I love this quote from Henry Ford. Often, it’s not what people say they want that is their true desire.

As business owners, it is our job to deliver what they really want, not just what they say they want. If you ask most buyers what they want when buying a boat, they’ll say, “We want the lowest price.”

But, is that what they really want?

Certainly not.

If they wanted the lowest price, they would go to Craigslist and buy the cheapest used boat they could find.

What they truly want is to know they bought the right boat for them without over paying or being taken advantage of by the dealer.

They want to make a buying decision with confidence. To know they made a smart choice that they and their friends will recognize as a smart choice.

If that level of confidence is not present, they default to negotiating price because then, at least they can brag about getting a “great deal” … or, they don’t buy at all.

If you agree with that thought process, it begs the question: “How can we ensure our prospects have a high level of confidence in their purchase from us?”

Let’s look at it from the prospect’s standpoint:

  • When they buy a boat, they take 100 percent of the risk that everything they were told by the salesperson is true.
  • They take the risk that you’ll actually handle their warranty work quickly.
  • They take the risk that the quality is what was promised to them.
  • They take the risk that the boat will hold its value as promised by the salesperson.
  • They take the risk that they will be able to operate the boat and get all the enjoyment out of it that was promised by the sales person.
  • They take the risk that they bought the right boat (its not too big or too small after a few trips out).
  • They take the risk that they didn’t overpay for the boat.
  • They take the risk that there is nothing wrong with the boat that may cause lost boating days.
  • They take the risk that all promises made during the sales process will actually happen.

The buyer takes almost all of the risk when buying a boat. What risk do you as the dealer take on once the money changes hand?In most cases, you have little to no risk.

During our Boot Camps, we spend a good amount of time on the concept of “Risk Reversal.” How can a dealer reduce the risk a buyer must take when making a buying decision?

Can the dealer prove any of the claims made during the sales process? Can the business take on some of the risks themselves? Can the dealer limit the risk of making a poor decision?

And, if they can, does it make sense financially to shoulder some of the risk for the buyer to sell more boats or improve overall margins? And, are you confident enough in your products and service to do so?

The answer is different for each business owner. For some, it leads to a guarantee. For others, it leads to a bold promise. For others, it leads to a change in sales or delivery process. And, for others still it leads to just communicating everything they already do in a more powerful and confidence building manner.

Bottom line, the more you reduce the risk from the buyer’s position, the more profitable your business tends to be.

Matt Sellhorst is the author of the book “Marine Marketing Strategies” and Head Profits Coach at Boat Dealer Profits. Sellhorst was also the winner of the MDCE Best Ideas Contest, Boating Industry’s Movers and Shakers Bold Moves award, a top producing boat salesman, and a speaker and presenter at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo. He now helps dealers, brokers and manufacturers sell more boats with proven sales and marketing systems.

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