5 Frequent Horse Salesmanship Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Posted by bossmare

Another Tip from equestrianprofessional.com
There is NO better way to market your horse for sale than in DressageDaily's Horsemarket! With over 5,000 visitors daily we have been promoting horses for sale by owner since 1997.

Have you ever found the perfect horse for a client or shown a horse for sale that you felt certain the customer was going to buy, only to have the sale fall apart? If the answer is "yes" – you are not alone. Most horse professionals have had these experiences and they can occur for many different reasons. However, if you've ever had a sneaking suspicion that maybe you could have said or done something differently or if you want to brush up on your salesmanship skills- these tips are for you.
  • 1. Talking instead of Listening - Most people fail to really listen. Rather than launching into a monologue about the wonders of the horse you are selling -- find out what the client's wants & needs are. Follow the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the time and talk 20% - OR LESS!! That way you'll learn what the client really wants and have a far better chance of fulfilling their needs and making a sale!
  • 2. Jumping into "selling mode" too quickly - Give the client a chance to acclimate. They have often had to travel to get to your barn, let them adjust to the new environment, get to know them a little bit, give them a few minutes to feel comfortable with you with out any pressure. Recognize that most riders feel a bit uncomfortable riding horses they don't know – especially, in front of people whose opinion matters to them. The more comfortable you can make them, the better they will ride and the more likely they will be to buy from you.
  • 3. Assuming they know the client's needs - The "I know exactly what you need" statement is presumptuous and is often interpreted as condescending. Your "job" as a salesperson is to "uncover" the client's needs not to presume them! The client wants to feel good about their decision not have some one else's decision imposed on them. They want to look good and feel smart. They want to be successful in purchasing the "right horse". Help them to articulate their needs, and be supportive. Understand their needs and you will be much more successful selling them a horse that will fulfill them.
  • 4. Failing to Uncover the Real Budget - Wow this is a tough one. It can be hard to get a straight answer on this one. But you must forge onwards towards clarity and especially the truth! First of all -- ask questions about the budget, secondly qualify the answers. For example: If they say they have a budget of $25,000 - $75,000 find out why the range is so big -- are they planning on negotiating, is the high end for the "perfect horse" or would they rather find a “bargain” at $25,000, does it include commissions and if so, for whom and for how much. Often the range is wide because they "don't know what they will need to spend to get what they want" -- that can be o.k. but if they truly have a strict budget showing them horses too far outside their budget will only confuse and complicate things. This will make a sale unlikely.
  • 5. Failing to communicate with the decision maker - Again another tough one. Often the person "who writes the checks" and has the "final decision" doesn't come along when horses are being tried for sale. Also, the decision maker may not have the "knowledge" that is necessary to make a good purchase decision. Between trainers, juniors, spouses etc.. it can be tough to get every one on the same page. When this is the case you may be dealing with a few 'head honchos" all with different agendas.
How do you handle it? First of all if you did your job uncovering needs and helping the client to articulate what they are looking for -- your job will be far easier.
  • A. The client has just "practiced" articulating why your horse is the right one for them and will now have a good chance of "selling" the idea to the "check writer" Thanks to your sales skills -- Now they can clearly explain to other people why your horse is the right horse for them.
  • B. If you have done your job making everyone comfortable and treated them with respect -- the door will be open for you to speak to "additional decision makers"
  • C. Always set up a way to follow up with your sales prospects.
    1. Be sure you have all phone numbers & emails tell them when you will contact them
    2. Hopefully you made a video tape of the buyer trying your horses and can e-mail or send it to them
  • 3. Set up a date & time for them to return with the final decision maker