If haggling back and forth with a salesperson over the price of a new boat isn’t your idea of fun, then you’re going to love Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Centers. Believe it or not, the sales associates are trained not to hit you up first thing for a sale.
It’s important for us to get to know you as a person, outside of boating. Doing it that way allows us to learn about your way of life and how you envision your perfect day on the water. We believe boating is a lifestyle that is meant to be fun. So, why not let the fun begin with the purchase?
“We like getting to know our customers first so we can help them find the best fit,” explains Danyeal O’Brien, a sales associate at the Bass Pro Shops Boating Center in Springfield, MO. “The worst thing we can do is rush someone into buying just any boat—only for them to discover it’s not right for their lifestyle.”
O’Brien is the perfect fit for her job. She grew up on Stockton Lake in western Missouri with her grandparents and two sisters.
“My grandfather worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and we boated all summer,” she says. “Growing up on a lake, there was just nothing more fun.”
O’Brien eventually found a job at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield, where she first sold vacation timeshares. Not surprisingly, she was drawn to the Boating Center, where she was befriended by the sales manager.
“A job came up and I’ve been here ever since,” she added. O’Brien is enjoying her fifth year as a sales consultant and calls it her dream job.
Visit the Boating Center and you’ll find her doing what she enjoys the most—introducing families to boating.
What interested you in the job?
It was easy. I wanted to introduce others to the way I grew up and share with them just how much fun boating is and can be with their own boat.
It’s so much different than selling anything else, like a car. When I sell a boat, I am also selling a lifestyle to a family or an individual who is looking to have fun. Selling a boat is like selling fun and adventure. There is more of a human side to it than just the fiberglass and all that.
What training do you have?
Each year, we get recertified with our initial training to keep up to date with updates to current models, learn about new boats and generally brush up on our sales process. We also role play in the store with coworkers, recreating specific scenarios that we encounter. There is no better way to be prepared for encountering just about any situation, and then know how to make it beneficial to understand the needs of the customer.
What else do you do for training?
We have what’s called Elite Summit events, which are intense training sessions where sales consultants and dealers from around the country convene at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake. We have boat brand comparisons, role play sessions and interact with other sales consultants in a fun, creative environment.
How do you prepare for a work day?
I do what we call a checkup from the neck up, which means going in with a clear head and leaving everything else at home. I like to treat people like my own family. Going in with a great attitude allows me to answer their questions and understand their needs.
Are customers surprised when you don’t first hit them up for a sale?
Yes. A lot of people don’t know how to react when I don’t push them for a sale up front. When you are selling fun you don’t pressure people. They have enough pressure in their daily lives, and they are coming here to buy into the fun.
What makes our sales process different?
We don’t jump on them like when they walk on a car lot. We are non-commissioned. A customer drops their defenses when learning that, and it just changes the entire mood for the better. They might not think I’m getting anything extra out of the sale, but I am. I get the satisfaction of knowing I sold them something that can make their lives more enjoyable with their perfect day on the water.
You’ve sold the boat. Now what?
Part of my spiel is giving a new boat owner my personal cell phone, which I doubt any salesperson has ever done. They just light up. It’s not a gimmick. I tell them to call me if they ever need anything. If I can’t help them, then I promise to find out who can.
Do you keep in touch with customers?
(Laughs) They keep up with me. I have customers come by my desk all the time, asking me for fishing tips. I give seminars about crappie fishing just about every day. It’s really amazing the kind of friendships you can make in this job.
What do most like about the job?
Between the customers and our team it breaks down to about a fifty-fifty split about what I most like about the job. Our team all feels a great sense of camaraderie and some of them are my best friends. With the customers, it’s how they share their lives during the sales process. Family photos, stories about kids and grandkids. It all makes a lasting personal connection that goes beyond just selling a boat.
What’s it like working The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores?
It’s a big place, the number one tourist destination in all of Missouri. We are busy most of the time. I have a lot of customers end up at my desk on the showroom floor just looking for directions. I do that a lot, but I don’t just point the way to go. I like to take them there myself, because again, this place is just so big.
The original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World location in our hometown of Springfield, MO is affectionately known as The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores. This massive outdoor-themed experience is the number one tourist destination in Missouri, attracting four-million families, sportspeople and outdoors enthusiasts every year. Boasting nearly 500,000 square feet of immersive shopping fun, the Grandaddy offers visitors one of the largest assortments of outdoor gear, apparel and gifts under one roof. Hemingway’s Blue Water Café, the National Archery Hall of Fame, National Rifle Association Sporting Arms Museum and the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium are among the many attractions. And of course, there is a full-service Bass Pro Shops Boating Center, too, which now also features the NEW line of TRACKER OFF ROAD ATVs and UTVs.