Simply Sales with Scott
Written By: Scott Koepf, Senior Vice President of Sales, Avoya Travel
In my last article I listed the steps of the sale by referencing the more technical or generally accepted terms, as well as using a lighter and possibly more understandable list based on romancing the sale. If we agree that the ultimate goal of your role as a travel professional is not the finalization of a transaction but a lifetime relationship, then getting the client to fall in love with you is the path to follow. We can use trust instead of love if the love analogy is a little too fluffy for your taste. We can all agree that if the client does not trust you they will not buy from you no matter how well you know the steps or the various sales techniques throughout the process. So lets look at how we get the customer to fall in trust with you (not the same ring to it but here we go).
Sales and learning the techniques used in sales can sometimes be construed as manipulation. When we think of the worst stereotypes of used car salesmen we all cringe and pledge to never want to be ‘that kind of salesperson’. The problem is we don’t replace the image with a picture of ‘the right kind of salesperson’. It is still imperative to learn the steps of selling and the best practices for each step as a professional. When you establish your objective as building trust versus finalizing a transaction then your motivation is helping instead of manipulating. This is why I love using the romance analogy. If you manipulated someone into loving you would it result in a trust based happily ever after relationship? No, but to build trust and have success in sales we still need to guide the customer in the right way and those are the steps to the sale.
As a quick reminder, here are the steps of romancing the sale (with the more generally accepted terms in parenthesis):
- Get Gussied Up (Preparation / Planning)
- Strut Your Stuff (Opening / Build Rapport)
- Courting (Qualifying / Build the Relationship)
- The Proposal (Research & Presentation / Recommending)
- The Cold Feet (Overcoming Objections / Assuring)
- The Commitment (The Close / Confirming)
- Forever Love (Follow Up / Communicating)
Before we look at each of these over the next few months we have to know what the ultimate goal of each step is or even the ultimate goal of the whole process. When I ask this question in seminars the most common answer is to close the sale or get the deposit. While this is certainly a desired outcome, if it is the driving objective then manipulation will creep into the entire process. Some people who were really listening will confidently say love or trust since I opened with that as the desired result. If you are smiling now because that was your response then you get a star but not a gold one. The ultimate goal of each step and even the whole process is to just get to the next step!
In other words, we can’t be in a hurry to run through the process. Remember trust takes time. If we try to jump to the end result – whether it is trust or money, we will most likely not have built any relationship through whatever steps were taken. So when you are in one step of the process, stay there as long as it takes with one intention – get to the next step. Great salespeople are not in a race and they don’t try and take short cuts. Learn to enjoy each step and how to build trust at that point before moving to the next step.
The first step is everything that happens before you have any contact at all with a customer. In romance it is called gettin’ gussied up (in rare groups I know, but I just love that expression!) but is best summarized as simply getting prepared. So the Boy Scouts have it right – Be Prepared!
Start by confessing you are in sales – Sales is a professional form of service to help people get what they want and if you are good at it you will make dreams come true.
Know your specialty – You can’t be everything to everyone so determine the types of clients you want, the destinations and products you want to be renowned as an expert on.
Know the Answer to Why You – The entire sales process is a long winded answer to this but you need to be able to articulate it in two or three sentences. Even more importantly it needs to be unique and specific.
Constant Education and Motivation – If you are a professional your product knowledge not only needs to be superior but it should only be superseded by your knowledge of your clients and the steps of selling. As even the best salespeople face rejection, find what keeps you motivated and enthusiastic.
Write it Down – For each of the four best practices above write down a plan, a schedule and even scripts to maximize effectiveness. Almost all of us need help remembering what are intentions were or what we should say in the heat of the moment so write it down!
Ronald Reagan, who was known as the great communicator, was really the master of preparation by writing down his ideas. He kept more than 30 4-inch by 6-inch note cards with him. They had his talking points on everything from Social Security to the world economy to the Cold War. Depending on where he was going and who he would be talking to, he’d flip through the cards, find the most relevant talking points for that group and tuck the rest of the cards away. He was really very well prepared with small messages that he wove together to create big impact. That’s what we have to do. Our job as business professionals is to access the nuggets of information that will be most interesting to the listener and deliver them… off the cuff sometimes. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if everybody took the time to craft their own 4” x 6” cards with their elevator speech of why customers should do business with you?
So being prepared is an incredibly important step in the sales process. Or another way to say it is that if we want to gain the customers trust we have to be trust worthy. Being worthy will be a result of being prepared.