Simply Sales with Scott
Written By: Scott Koepf, Senior Vice President of Sales, Avoya Travel
The first interaction you have with a potential customer can solely determine whether you will end up with a sale or a customer for life. In the sales process, we call this the opening or the greeting and it will set the tone for all future conversations (if there are any!). While you can overcome a mediocre or bad first impression, why would you want to be in that position? By taking some time preparing you can leave your customers impressed and excited to continue working with you!
Years ago, this step in the sales process was focused on in person greetings. Today, the vast majority of first contacts occur either on the phone or via email. However, if you are building your business via networking and prospecting then the in person first impression is still vital. So, we will cover a few suggestions as to the person to person first impression and then move on to phone and email.
The simplest advice is what your mother probably taught you years ago. Stand up, look them in the eye and smile. That alone will create a great first impression. Obviously if you have the right attitude and are excited to meet new clients and talk about travel then you are on the right track. Interestingly, there was a study done years ago by Albert Mehrabian that determined consumers form their opinion of others based on three things – body language, voice quality and the words you use. His study determined that body language drives 55% of their impression and then the voice made up 38%. So, the words you use only account for 7%! This doesn’t mean you can dance and sing and say nothing of interest to win over clients (although many say that is my personal approach!). In fact, it means that if you send a signal through your body language or voice that you are not enthusiastic about your interaction with the customer then they will not pay any attention to what you are saying. Therefore, when it comes to a physical meeting – do what your mother told you to do!
In the same study, it was determined that on the phone, due to the lack of seeing body language, your voice drives 87% of the reaction customers will have to your first call. While I highly recommend creating scripts for answering the phone and for your first few sentences of your conversation, it is the delivery that makes all the difference. None of us like to hear our own voice but I recommend recording yourself to make sure you sound excited and compelling every time a customer calls. In addition, put a mirror on your desk as the old adage is true – they can hear a smile over the phone! The combination of a voice that conveys confidence and excitement plus a well-crafted preplanned set of words will make customers feel immediately at ease with a knowledge that they got to the right person.
Both in person and phone are being replaced by email as the channel used for the first contact with potential customers. First impressions are just as powerful in this media and while there is no specific study I can quote, with the absence of body language and voice, it is all about the words in email! Take the time to draft up your first response emails so that they are exciting, unique and tell your story giving a compelling reason why customers should book through you and not elsewhere including direct with the supplier. The challenge is doing that in only a few sentences. If you send a quote as your first contact make sure it is best of class. It should be visually compelling, easy to read, provide full explanations of value-add offers, focus on why you are the best choice and most importantly, as personalized to the customer as possible. Achieving all of that is not easy which is why it is worthwhile to develop your templates ahead of time. We are in a competitive business and there is a good chance that a consumer may get five or more emails or quotes from retailers and suppliers. If your email does not stand out, then your chances of getting to a conversation will be difficult.
Remember, no matter how you greet or make the first contact with a customer they will form a first impression and it will probably happen in less than three seconds. Spending hours in preparation to ensure you leave them wanting more right from the start will have a significant impact on your sales!