Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Travel is such a fun and exciting business that it is easy to downplay the fact that to reach financial success in this business, you must know how to sell. There is no such thing as a born sales person. Would you rather have a born brain surgeon or a trained one?
Successful salespeople become successful because they understand they are in sales and they make it part of their daily or weekly routine to learn and practice new ways to improve their abilities. This is why I write these articles – so that those travel advisors who want to increase their income and improve their relations with their customers may find a nugget or two each month that they can implement in their sales process.
While sales is a multi-step and in-depth process, there is one skill set that may be the most important one to learn to improve your ability to close more sales. It might best be shown through the following example. Some of you may be too young to remember Jonny Carson who was a superb late-night talk show host. Once he brought on a guest who was known as ‘the best salesman in the world’. Apparently, this guy could “sell ice to Eskimos” so Johnny challenged him to a little test in front of the audience:
Defiantly Johnny said, “I want you to try and sell me something”.
“Ok Johnny, what would you like me to sell you?” said the salesman.
Johnny looked around and said, “Ok, how about this ash tray?”
“Alright, what do you like about that ash tray, Johnny?” asked the salesman.
“Well, ok,…I guess I like how it sits on my desk, the size of it, and I guess I like how it holds cigarettes for me a and my guest,” said Johnny.
“That’s great. I can see why you like that ash tray.” said the salesman, “Is there anything else you like about it?”
“I guess I also like color of it,…yeah, I really like the color of this ash tray.”
“It is a good looking color isn’t it?”
“Yeah, the more I think of it I really do like the color a lot,” Johnny said.
“I see Johnny, how much do you think you would be willing to pay for that very ash tray that you like so much?” said the sales man.
“Well, I guess I would pay $5 for that very ash tray,” said Johnny.
“SOLD!!!!!!!!!” said the sales man with a big grin on his face. He knew he had just closed the deal and closed Johnny Carson on the sale.
The ability to sell lies primarily in our ability to ask questions. Knowing which questions to ask and when takes practice, but the best way to start improving your skill at asking questions, is to create a list of all the questions you can think to ask. I have provided many suggested questions in past issues and you can start there and add more constantly. You may end up with a list of over 100 questions. I do not suggest asking all of those questions, especially in one sitting, but the list provides you with options to draw from when you are qualifying your customers.
The greatest salesman only needed the right questions to sell Johnny. The same may be true for you to sell anyone!