Seven Things to Consider When Interacting With Potential Boat Buyers

How well you communicate with potential buyers will affect how they respond to you. We have some easy tips to ensure that you’re sending the right signals, to gain buyers’ trust, to keep them informed and willing to push the button. Selling a boat can be compared to playing a game of chess, one wrong move and you’re out of the game! Follow our seven tips to make sure that you start on the right page, and finish the chapter to enable you to move onto a new one. Here are seven things to consider when interacting with potential boat buyers.

1. Play Fair

When listing your boat be honest and upfront about it. Be sure to report damage and flaws (no matter how small they may seem to you at the time) before you meet with the seller. Include this information in your boat listing. Highlight any maintenance that you’ve done on the boat too. While the dictates of Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) mean that a boat seller is not obliged by law to volunteer negative information about his boat, sellers are not permitted to misrepresent the product he or she is selling.

To progress to a point where your buyer is at a more committed level, you need to include the details of those in the Sale and Purchase Agreement – a contractual document outlining the terms of the sale that both parties will agree upon and sign. Highlight when you last repaired the boat and provide an extensive list of the boat survey details. 

2. Preparation is Key

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Ensure you are going to be available to answer technical questions. If you don’t know your boat’s specs by heart, print out a ‘cheat sheet’ or the ad itself as a handy guide. This will be especially useful for phone inquiries that may come in while you are thinking about something else altogether (like what you’re having for dinner). Lots of buyers will want to know how many hours are on the engine. 

3. Preparing for a Sea Trial / Viewing

Check the buyer is not a fraudster first. You will be able to tell this by the types of questions they are asking and whether they are open and forthcoming about uncovering their own identity. Most fraudsters will attempt to deal for the boat without meeting in person.

Etiquette. You should expect to pay the bill for the fuel and marina services involved in a sea trial, but be aware that you can often strike a deal for the return of this money in the event that you go ahead with the purchase.

Be COVID-19 Safe

Be COVID-19 aware when interacting with boat buyers. For a full list of guidelines visit the CDC website – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clean and disinfect the boat (including any surfaces) before a viewing. Use disinfectant wipes to clean heavily-trafficked areas of the boat prior to the buyer’s arrival. Prepare sanitizer on board and offer it to the buyer before they board. As a final step in the cleaning process, get some nice boat polish and wax, which will help you get the boat’s gelcoat nice and shiny.

Conduct COVID-safe viewings to prevent the spread of germs. Keep a distance of six feet (two arm lengths) and wear a mask which covers your nose and mouth. You may want to bring a disposable mask or two to offer the buyer before they board. If you cough, cover your nose with a tissue, and wash your hand for at least twenty seconds before and after the viewing.

Blackfin boat seating area near the transom
Be sure to clean and disinfect heavily trafficked areas before showing your boat in person!

4. Be Ready to Communicate with Potential Buyers – and Be Proactive!

Be responsive, polite and friendly. Make sure you have your notifications turned on, always check your spam to make sure you are not missing any messages. Provide as many contact methods as possible. Phone, email, WhatsApp, or Facebook. Lastly, be flexible! Treating a boat buyer as your customer will help sell your boat faster! Being rigid about timings and locations will limit your options.

5. Be a “Good” Salesperson

A good salesperson encourages the buyer to open-up by asking a few questions to open a conversation. Be curious and authentic. Use information that buyers provide as an opportunity to highlight your boat’s features. For example, if they are using the boat for fishing, you can exchange fishing anecdotes while highlighting the fishing features on board. Selling doesn’t need to be a means to an end, you may end up with having fun in the process. You may even forge a friendship.

6. Negotiation Tactics

Negotiation is often an iterative process that plays through a number of rounds before the final figure is agreed. Negotiations are not unlike chess, where every move you make sets up another move down the line. This may take place in a single conversation, or could be spread out over a number of days. Indeed, some negotiations go on for weeks with multiple offers and counter-offers, but most are over after one to three rounds. If both sides are realistic about the boat’s value, it shouldn’t be too hard to agree on a final price. Don’t dismiss a low offer – always come back with a higher price. If you choose to negotiate with several buyers at the same time, it’s important to make sure each one knows up front that there are other offers pending, otherwise you may lose more than one buyer.

7. Set Your Rock-Bottom Sales Price

Set your absolute bottom price to avoid walking away disappointed. You can even mention this in your listing by saying “pricing is firm.” If you’re willing to hold out for a better price the Premium package will enable you to hold your nerve and test the water over an extended period (excuse the pun). The premium package maximizes your exposure to the most buyers over our longest time frame (twelve weeks). For more information about how to determine asking prices read about our guide to determine what you think is a fair price.

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and boats.com. She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.

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