As 2014 comes to a close it's time to reflect on performance over the year. I am happy; on average we have sold two yachts every month. It's a respectable performance, enough to keep the wolves from the door. Looking over the list of boats sold a host of fascinating characters come into focus. Each one of them very different and each with diverse reasons for wanting to sell their yacht. Some sold well and others could have done better. How do you get the best deal for yourself?

Here is my advice for vendors. Let the boat do the talking for you! A well presented boat, clean, tidy and visibly loved will sell on its own. The less a vendor says the better. There are many reasons for selling e.g. fulfilled dreams, cash problems, age, bereavement keep these to yourself. Don't give any advantages to the purchaser. You should however always answer the purchaser's questions directly and honestly. Any half truths will be discovered at sea trial or survey stage. Their discovery at this point undermines trust at a critical phase. It is much better to admit defects than to have a marine surveyor rub your nose in them. Putting lipstick on a pig is unlikely to fool any but the most naive of purchasers and my experience is that there are not many of those!

If a well presented boat sells itself then the challenge is to get physical viewings because it is extremely rare for purchasers to make binding offers without first viewing the boat. The Internet is a fantastic tool. When you list your boat with an online broker like Boatshed Gibraltar you are placing your boat on a global shop window that reaches everyone, everywhere. It provides fantastic exposure for your boat. The existence of this global shop window makes the market very transparent. Unless your boat is very unique potential purchasers can compare similar boat prices with a few keyboard strokes. Purchasers will never visit the most expensive boats (quite the opposite) they will tend to visit the cheapest of the same age and specification. This presents vendors with a dilemma. The traditional thinking is to put in a hefty negotiating cushion into the price to later give it away. This just doesn't work any more, the viewings will go to the most competitively priced boats. It is much better to price competitively and reject silly offers than to sit outside the market with no viewings and no offers at all. If your boat is competitively priced and well presented you will see the buying signals on the face of the purchaser when he sees the boat for the first time. He will have incurred costs to come and see the boat. He has shown some serious commitment to securing a deal. There is always a need to keep a small amount for what I call the "male negotiating premium". Virtually every alpha male needs to be given a small discount so that he can self validate his negotiating skills. However I must say that I have observed an inverse relationship between the self opinion of a purchaser's negotiating skills and his ability in reality!

The objective of every good negotiator is to keep his motivation to sell to himself but to discover the motivation of the purchaser. Knowing why, when and where a purchaser wants his yacht will present opportunities to meet his needs. Ask polite questions to understand the reasons that are driving his purchase. There are other elements beyond price that can be very important to a purchaser. For example, a thorough handover is important to an inexperienced new owner, or delivering the boat, or making it easy for him to fulfil his boat ownership dream. There are other signs to note. For example I have seen purchasers start to act in a proprietorial way, such as insisting on removing shoes or tidying up, long before they have even made an offer. These are all non-verbal signals that help you position yourself to meet his needs as fully as possible. Finally don't forget the broker is there working for you. His observations based on long experience can provide you with the wisdom you need to successfully sell your yacht.