How to sell a boat

What I’m about to share on selling boats will sound strange. But if you sell boats, it could help you make a nicer living.

Here’s the strange part: The trick to selling a boat is to stop selling the boat!

What on earth does that mean? It means if you want to get paid the maximum price for your boat, there are three things you need to sell instead.

1. Sell the price tag, not the boat

We need the buyer to agree with your asking price.

Letting them use their own method of valuation is a certain path to disagreement, so instead we have to guide them to the price we want.

Feed them numbers like…

  • What price was the boat brand new?
  • What did you pay for it?
  • How much extra did you spend on it?
  • How much are other boats of this type?

Make comparisons like…

  • Is it more stylish than similarly priced Boat X?
  • Does it handle rougher conditions than Boat Y?
  • Is it a smoother ride than Boat Z?
  • Will it hold its value better than other brands?
  • Why did you buy it over other boat brands or models?

You cannot afford to leave the buyer’s valuation to chance.

2. Sell the package, not the boat

Here’s some good news – you have more to offer your customer than just a physical object.

Every boat owner has information, experience, contacts, and contracts that could be passed on to the buyer to make their life easier. Let’s package these with the boat to give them a better deal.

Information and experience like…

  • How they’ll find your best fishing spots
  • How you keep the boat clean with zero effort
  • How you get your boat prepared for day-trips with friends with one phone-call

Contacts and contracts like…

  • The great engine mechanic you found after two dodgy ones
  • Your awesome cleaners and their special mates rates
  • Access to good deals you get on bait, catering, and so on
  • Memberships

Turn assets the buyer can’t see into bonuses the buyer can pay you for.


An example: Get a supplier to write you a contract that formalises any agreements you have with them. It boosts the value of your package, and it’s in their best interest too (it will help them keep a customer after your boat has changed hands).

“I have supplied John with bait for 8 years and give him a 20% discount for his loyalty. It would be my pleasure to honour that tradition with the new owner of [boat name].”


Imagine you got 5 or 6 of these “contracts”. It becomes a unique bonus that only comes with YOUR boat. You might even be able to attach a dollar value like “Save $10k/yr in marina fees with this included membership…”.

I love these high-value, low cost bonuses, because a few pieces of paper (that cost you nothing) can boost your final sale price by thousands of dollars.

What pieces of paper or information would your buyer find valuable?

3. Sell the dream, not the boat

Ok we’ve turned your boat into a package deal. But we’re still under-selling your boat. Here’s why…

Nobody dreams about fibreglass.

People don’t buy boats as objects, they buy them as a tool to get more of what they want in life. We are selling the boat short if we fail to tell the buyer what it can do for them.

Important: We don’t promise them anything directly. If we suggest they will become a great fisherman or become popular with the models of Sports Illustrated they will NOT believe us. Instead we keep our story to the facts and let THEM imagine their future life.

Talk about…

  • Specific memories, special trips, special occasions.
  • An example of how it changed your relationship with friends and family.
  • How you used it (sports fishing, sunset cruises, family days out, romantic dates, overnight stays or work Xmas parties).
  • Nice places you went.

Have you ever bought something for a few more dollars than you planned? That’s what desire can do. We imagine life will be better once we have it, and that’s the way we want your buyer to feel at decision time.

What have we done?

Normally the buyer can only get a bargain by paying less than your asking price. What we’ve done is pushed up the value of our package so much that a buyer can pay full price, and still feel like they’re getting a bargain.

Now let’s keep going, because there’s one more way we can protect our price…

4. Reduce the cost (not the price)

To make the deal even better, we can drive down the non-financial costs of buying a boat.

Total Cost = $Price + Time + Effort

In other words, we make it easy for a person to buy, collect, and use the boat.

  • An inviting way to inspect or test-drive the boat
  • Arrange any mechanical or safety checks for them
  • Help with any training or licencing they’ll need (could you pay for their licence or a boating course?)
  • Make delivery easy
  • Make storing and launching the boat easy

These acts of service literally make the boat easier to buy. But they also give a buyer the feeling they are in the hands of an organised and reliable seller.

Final word

You don’t have to do all of the above. One valuable sentence or one bonus (merely a sheet of paper) could give the buyer enough reason to pay that extra 5% or choose your boat over another.

Dave Gillen Copywriter

Dave Gillen – Sales Copywriter / Brisbane
Get in touch here if you’d like to sell your boats at higher prices in 2021.

P.S. This is my first resource for boat sellers. If this has helped you, or if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you here.

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