Written By: Scott Koepf MCC, CTC, V.P. of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Almost every business school text book references the P’s of business which usually include product, price, place, promotion and other ‘p’ words deemed worthy by the author. Since the Travel Advisor does not really determine their success based on some of those P’s, I came up with the P’s of Sales. Since your income will be based more on your sales ability than any other skill, here is the alliteration list of the most important things to focus on to improve your sales ability:
Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch to make it a P but for my game playing readers, it is a double P score! Each of these P’s requires time and focus but is worth the effort as your sales will grow and lead to the ultimate P word – Profit!
Let’s look at each of these a bit more in-depth:
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and you have already started preparing by reading this column! The average Travel Advisor does well here when it comes to product knowledge as there are unlimited opportunities to listen to webinars, attend seminars or become certified experts. That is important and should be a part of your weekly agenda but make sure you schedule time to learn about sales, marketing, networking and other skills each week. Those programs are not as readily available in our industry but worth seeking out as they will be what makes you above average. Agreeing with the importance of learning is fine but you need to actually calendar a couple hours each week for learning skills other than product knowledge. At least 50% of the time you spend learning should be on non-product related subjects so that you know what to do with that wonderful product knowledge you have gained! Just as important, if not more so, is to calendar time to work on the next two P’s.
Before you dive into the tasks of the day spend some time thinking about what you want your business to look like in the future. In other words what are your goals? Not just in sales figures, although you can certainly start there, but how many clients do you want? What kind of experiences are you going to focus on? The last three P’s of Plan, Process and People Pleasin’ will not be effective unless they all point to the position you establish in the marketplace and where you want to eventually be. To make this point let me provide some controversial advice as an example. Many Advisors express a desire to establish their position as a Luxury Specialist. There are certainly some compelling reasons to make this choice and while it may not be for everyone let me assume that it is a valid position for the advisor in this case to pursue. Here is what I would say to an advisor making that choice:
Do Not Specialize in Luxury Travel!
What, you say? Has Scott lost his mind? If it is a reasonable position to specialize and luxury travel is a growing and profitable segment how can you make that statement? Only because I will provide the following suggestion instead:
Specialize in Luxury Travelers!
It is a subtle difference in words but a huge difference in position. If that is the segment of the market you want to play in, then everything will start with your knowledge about who you want to do business with. This is true no matter what the Position is you want to establish, be it sports fans, wine enthusiasts, families, or brides to be. With the understanding that it is your customers that will dictate your Position you can then design the next three P’s to create the vision you set.
Next month I will provide some more insight into the last three P’s!