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Sea-Doo Life Tour shows the power of demo rides

Liz Hochstedler, Associate Editor
August 6, 2012
Filed under Features

Customers, dealers attend nationwide event

As the Sea-Doo PWCs and the 210 WAKE boat took their laps around Medicine Lake in a Minneapolis suburb, it didn’t take long for passersby to stop and find out what was happening.

Sea-Doo was in town for its Life Tour, which offers enthusiasts and prospective customers the opportunity to hop aboard a boat and a variety of PWC and see a Move trailer in action. The tour began in early April and hit 28 cities, finishing Aug. 5.

“It’s been doing good; it’s a good year,” Adrien De Alexandris, Sea-Doo’s marketing manager of watercraft and boats, said from the Plymouth, Minn., event.

As the industry began seeing a rebound in PWC sales, Sea-Doo watched excitement grow as it ventured from Florida to Connecticut to California and several points in between.

“We’re getting a good amount of people that are signing up and showing up,” De Alexandris reported.

And Minneapolis was no exception. The city had the second most riders through the first 13 weeks of the tour, coming in only behind Long Beach, Calif.

Staff from Pro Power Sports & Marine in Anoka, Minn., was on hand to show Sea-Doo Life Tour attendees the Move trailer with iCatch at the Sea-Doo event near Minneapolis.

“The Minneapolis event was a good success with great attendance and promising sales numbers, and also great weather and dealer engagement level,” De Alexandris said.

And dealers were just as excited to see those customers.

“I’m actually impressed at what they pulled off this year,” Mark Niforopolus, owner of St. Boni Motor Sports in St. Bonifacius, Minn., said of Sea-Doo.

Though Niforopolus did very little web-only marketing for the event, his dealership still sold seven units on its best day of the three-day event.

“We definitely converted some people from there, without question,” he said.

Though St. Boni Motor Sports always offers PWC demo rides, Sea-Doo’s format allowed Niforopolus’ prospects to get on the water more easily, and it took some of the usual demo pains away from the dealership.

“It was actually nice because they did all the pre-ride communications,” he said of Sea-Doo. “They put them on the machine; they took them off the machine, and then [our] salesman got into the features and benefits.”

Sea-Doo also gave each dealership’s sales staff 45 minutes of training and time on the machines before the customers arrived.

“We’re training them for what we’re going to be talking to the customers about,” De Alexandris explained.

To be fair to all dealerships, any customer without a preferred dealer was assigned a dealer based on the rider’s zip code. This prevented dealers from arguing or getting overrun with too many customers who live closer to other dealerships, Niforopolus explained. Also, customers weren’t bombarded with multiple pitches.

A Sea-Doo employee gives Life Tour participants a tutorial before they demo PWCs on Medicine Lake near Minneapolis.

Once a customer finished a ride, the assigned dealership’s staff could then approach to start the sales process.

“When they get off the water, you can really catch that excitement as the dealer,” Niforopolus said.

Customers were reporting that they were most impressed with the iBR braking system and the overall maneuverability of the watercraft, De Alexandris said. Demos allowed the customers to experience both first-hand.

“It’s one thing in the showroom to talk about the iBR, but it’s another thing to showcase it,” he said.

Niforopolus said though there were some riders at the event only to play, buyers were also present. After the event, Sea-Doo officials dumped a few dozen prospects into his lead management system, and he plans to follow-up with all of them.

“Just basic sales communication,” he said. “‘What can we do? Do you have any questions that were not answered? Do you want to get onto another product? Are you thinking about buying this year?’ Should we try to get them in the boat show next year? Just trying to figure out where they are in the buying process.”

De Alexandris said the dealerships that see the most success out of the tour are those, like St. Boni Motor Sports, that stay engaged. And with product that got customers excited, Sea-Doo helped spur that interaction.

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