Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
There are a few great teachers of sales that I recommend travel agents read their books. Some were teaching many, many years ago but as sales is simply the process of helping people, the basics of the process have not changed. Zig Ziglar is no longer with us but his teachings are timeless. Another great trainer who spoke specifically on sales was Tom Hopkins. I also recommend any of his material. Mr. Hopkins taught the Seven C’s of great service and sales so in honor of him I will reveal those below with some of my own thoughts and then add four more that I think are just as important:
1. Commitment – To be great at anything you need to be committed to it. While it may be easy to be committed to travel, the challenge may be the commitment to the business. Start by calendaring time weekly to review your numbers and review every aspect of your business for constant improvement.
2. Competency – Your customers expect you to be extraordinary. Consumers today are not happy with good service, they want their expectations exceeded. While it sounds simple, just make sure that you are really good at what you do.
3. Courtesy – It is sad that this needs to be listed but common courtesy will win sales and lifetime customers. This is more than pleases and thank yous but also means you answer your phone and return calls and emails quickly. Your customers should always feel honored by you.
4. Composure – Travel by its nature will create unique and challenging situations. Keeping your cool and reducing stress for your client will add to your value. In working with suppliers, it is just as important to remain calm and work with them, not against them, to solve any issues.
5. Creativity – Differentiation is imperative for success in retail travel as you need to stand out against all the other options customers have for booking travel. While a good travel advisor can be creative in designing and packaging travel they need to be even more creative in designing and packaging themselves!
6. Compassion – Travel may be what we sell but it is knowing and helping people that is the real business you are in. Compassion starts with intense listening and then truly understanding what your client not only wants but needs.
7. Consistency – Repeat and referral business is the best way to achieve long term success in selling travel. To do so your clients need to trust that you will always be there for them and provide honest and detailed advice each and every time.
8. Communication – To provide any of the above C’s to your client great communications skills will be the delivery mechanism. Therefore, your telephone skills, your written words via email are a part of conveying each of these traits. Practice and get other opinions to make sure you are clear, understandable and pleasant no matter which media you are using to talk to customers.
9. Character– Trust is the ultimate result you are working for through each of these C’s and the combination of all that you do will establish your character. No matter what people will buy from those they trust and like.
10. Comedy – I believe that using your sense of humor will allow your relationship with your customers grow faster and add an element of fun into your service. Always be appropriate but a good laugh will add to your authenticity.
11. Courage – To do all of these C’s will take courage as some will not be in your comfort zone and you will need to hold yourself accountable. The results are worth the risks so take courage and you will end up with more of the ultimate C word in sales – Closes!