Written By: Scott Koepf, Senior Vice President of Sales, Avoya Travel
It may come as a surprise that after almost 30 articles about the sales process, we are finally going to talk about closing the sale! Most sales training programs will spend the majority of time reviewing various closing techniques and while certainly important, I believe that the emphasis should be on every step leading up to the close. So, I suggest reviewing all of the last two plus years of articles before forging ahead or I will assume (naively), that you have read every issue of this great publication and have been counting the moments for this next installment.
The ability and ease of closing the sale is truly dependent on all of the previous steps – especially if the focus has been on building a lifetime client relationship versus completing a transaction. Preparing for and following the steps of the sale will result in more sales than the mastery of a list of closing techniques. The following quote sums up the best way to create success in closing the sale:
“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
Selling travel is actually less about travel and more about people. To that end I would add these three words to the end of Mr. Carnegie’s quote: ‘or your product’. Remember, with the rare exception, that you are selling something that can be purchased from thousands of other travel agents. In addition, the consumer has usually already spent an inordinate amount of time researching their vacation. Product knowledge is important to establish your credibility, but it will not in and of itself close the sale. In other words, your success in closing the sale will not be based on convincing people how wonderful you or your products are. Instead it will be because the customer truly feels you care for and are interested in them. They will come to that conclusion well before the close of the sale.
If we assume that you have built trust with the customer over all of the previous steps, then the close will indeed be easier and feel natural. However, make no mistake, it still needs to happen and does require specific action! Some travel agents are excellent at building relationships, but due to a lack of ability to ask a closing question end up with dismal sales. It is important to remember that all of the steps in the sales process are designed to create a lifetime client. However, a customer does not become a client unless they buy something! I will list a few approaches to ‘the close’ next month, but no matter which approach you use, the key is to make sure you always ask for the sale! While the following quote by ‘the great one’ refers to the game of hockey, it is just as applicable to sales:
“You miss 100% of the shots you do not take.”
Don’t assume that even if your interaction with the customer seems to be going well that they will suddenly pull out a credit card without being asked to do so. Each interaction with a customer should end with a closing question. In some cases that will not mean asking for the payment. You may need to close by setting the exact appointment for your next conversation. Most vacation purchases, especially for first time customers, do not happen in one phone call, so ‘closing’ on the first call with a specific appointment can definitely be the right approach. In any case, heed the advice from the ice rink and
Take the Shot!