Used Boat Sales: The Sudden Buddy Influence

I recently introduced you to a couple of sales techniques you need to be aware in an effort to get the best deal you can on a used boat. The Scarcity Principle and the Authority Play were explained in some detail. This month, I’ll talk about another technique used, consciously or not, to  get you to pay top dollar — and that’s very simply the natural effort of salespeople to ingratiate themselves with their customers. Let’s call it the Sudden Buddy Influence.

Nice guy! Should that make a difference in how much you pay for used boat?! No!
Nice guy! Should that make a difference in how much you pay for used boat?! No!

Of course, any salesperson who expects to make a living knows he or she needs to be likable, but some will go beyond being merely polite and agreeable to the point of being overly friendly, or even obsequious.  It’s your job in the negotiation process to recognize when a salesperson is using his or her likability to influence your decision to purchase, your willingness to accept a certain price or interest rate, and so on.

One of the first things they do is to establish common ground. They might also be a boater, or they may like the same waterfront restaurants you do. They might ski or wakeboard, or whatever. Bear in mind it’s not just idle chatter. It could be part of a plan. They also might resort to such things as complimenting your clothing or your children, or even the model of boat your interested in.

This doesn’t make the salesperson a bad person. On the contrary, sales people make the world go round, and they’re just doing their job. If they’re doing it well, you will develop some affinity for them. So, in the midst of a deal, ask yourself how you feel about the salesperson. Remember, it’s a boat you’re buying, not the salesperson, and that’s what you need to like and be happy with.

If you find yourself liking the salesperson more than you thought you would, you might be under the influence of the Sudden Buddy Influence, and you should create a usable defense mechanism so you don’t end up with a deal you’ll be unhappy with down the road.

Here are a couple of suggestions. One, you can turn the likability around on them and say something like, “Gee, I’ve really enjoyed meeting you and working with you on this deal, so I was really hoping you’d go to bat for me on getting us a better [price, interest rate, complimentary set of PFDs] “…or whatever. They’ll either recognize the mental jujitsu or fall victim to it. If they want the deal badly enough, they’ll go to bat for you.

The second suggestion is to remain focused on what you’re there to do, and that’s to get the best deal you can on a used boat. Focus is the key. You are going to own the boat for years to come, but you likely will never see that salesperson again — unless you see him or her at your favorite waterfront restaurant, right?

Think of a Tupperware party. Do you know why they are so successful at moving merchandise? Not because of the airtight seal or the ingenious designs, but because the attendees usually know and like the party hosts, and feel a sense of obligation to buy because they like them.  The influence I’ve been talking about works the same way — it’s just more sudden. 

Buying a used boat isn’t like buying Tupperware. Being aware of influential sales techniques can help you get the best deal.


Boat Trader has plenty of  Buying and Selling advice, but also check out the hundreds of articles in the Boating section, with tips on everything from seamanship to maintenance, how-to, where to find replacement parts, and much more.



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