Written By: Scott Koepf, Senior Vice President of Sales, Avoya Travel
One of the accepted steps of the sales process is overcoming objections. While it may be the fifth step in the process it can actually occur throughout the interaction and as we all know it can happen numerous times! Instead of being afraid of objections we need to embrace them as they are a sign that the customer is engaged. The great motivational sales trainer Zig Ziglar said the following:
Selling only starts with the first ‘no’ and every sale only has five objections:
Selling vacations has these same objections. As to the first objection, I think that is weeded out by marketing for the most part. If you are cold calling or working a room at a cocktail party then you may find a few sad people who have no desire to travel. Yes, they do exist. However, there are so few of them, when you find someone who does not have any interest then just move on. Don’t try to convince them why travel is wonderful. Instead find the next person who’s eyes light up when you mention travel. In the case of selling travel, the second objection is somewhat the same as the first. No ‘needs’ leisure travel, at least in terms of survival, so if someone does not see the need for themselves to see the world or even just get away, it is probably best you pass them by too. With so many people longing to cruise, tour and explore, it is not worth your time to try and change the mind of those who do not.
Money is the universal objection for almost all sales and it is important that you are ready for this one. At the highest level, you need to be prepared to discuss the extraordinary value of the products you are offering by having excellent product knowledge. Then in almost equal measure you need to know the price points and the offers available for the products you are selling. This is no easy task today. The qualifications and combinability options are staggering. The price and offers available today are argument enough for specialization as it will be impossible to get a handle on all deals on all products. Of course, no matter the value or the final price, if the client does not have the money then once again move on. While I am not a fan of asking the client for their budget directly early in the conversation, it is important to get a feel for this issue based on prior vacation history or other factors. If you determine that no matter the offer you make they simply can’t afford it, then be kind and ask them to come see you when they are able to consider a life changing vacation.
Many objections fall into the next category of No Hurry. Overcoming this objection takes practice as you don’t want to come across desperate or pushy but without some urgency there is a good chance you will lose the sale. In some cases, the urgency is provided without you having to create it. It really is the last cabin on the ship. The discount really does expire tomorrow. In those cases, let the reality speak for itself. In many other cases, especially for potential bookings being made far in advance, you need to help create the urgency. Selection of itineraries or accommodations continually decline with time. Prices go up over time. These are generally true and can be used but in some cases, you simply need to create your own urgency. Offer a special credit or gift if they book within 24 hours. Remember you are the retailer so don’t wait for the supplier to create urgency if it is not there already. Create it yourself.
And now the mother of all objections – No Trust. Sadly, the consumer will probably never come right out and say ‘I am not going to buy from you because I don’t trust you’ but it is the primary reason people do not buy. It doesn’t mean that you are not trustworthy if a customer does not by from you. It simply means that within whatever time you had with them in whatever media (phone, email, text or in person) you did not gain their trust. In some cases that can be a short time frame which means gaining the trust of your customers is really the primary objective of each interaction versus closing a sale because closing the sale requires trust. The suggestions and study of the sales process as reviewed in these articles, are designed to help you build trust at every point during the customer interface.
The ultimate question asked by every customer (yet rarely verbally) is ‘Why should I do business with you?’ The answer of ‘Because you can trust me’ is easy to say but difficult to prove in a short period of time. Every aspect of how you deal with clients will have an impact on your trustworthiness. If you do not respond to inquiries quickly then, no matter what you say when you do respond, the customers trust in you declines. Not asking the right questions will erode trust as will a lack of knowledge or the willingness to get that knowledge.
Trust, therefore is the single most important factor in sales. Customers will simply lose interest if they do not trust you. In the painfully blunt words of the excellent sales trainer Jeffrey , “I’m not interested means you are not interesting!” Ouch. While you can probably be interesting without being trustworthy, if you are both then you will close more business. Next month we will dig into specific objections raised in selling travel but none can be handled well if there is a lack of trust or interest in what you say. Spend some time reviewing your correspondence and conversations and see if you can create more trust in what you do and say. Trust me, increasing your sales is very interesting!