What Makes an Effective Sales Conversation?
It's easy to get out of practice or even resistant to initiating a travel conversation, even when we know it's the key to creating a sale.
Effective sales conversations are like any other muscle. The more we use them, the better we get. Conversely, if you are out of practice, you can feel awkward. It’s more comfortable to take the path of least resistance and wait for the phone to ring or the email to arrive in the inbox.
The other issue is the word “sales”. Nobody wants to be seen as a pushy salesperson.
You are not trying to sell anything, especially on the initial contact.
Your goal is to have a steady stream of loyal clients. The purpose of the travel conversation is to strengthen your flow of high-value customers. Its starts with establishing a relationship.
Connecting with customers gives you a clear understanding of when they will feel ready to travel again. When the customer sets the time frame, everything else falls in place.
Here are 8 tips on how to have an effective travel conversation.
1. Just have one. Now is the time to be connecting with customers. People are curious about traveling again and are seeking out travel agents. According to ASTA 50% of recent inquiries are coming from those who have not used a travel agent in the past. In order to capture that momentum, it's important to jump in the flow by making contact.
2. Have another one. Most times we underestimate how long it takes to move from interest to the credit card. This study from the National Sales Executive Association reminds us to never, never give up.
3. Be light. Think of sales as a game. That is not to say it's not important but thinking of sales as a game is a reminder that this is supposed to be fun!
A "no" is usually a “no not yet”. Even if it is a “no, not you”, that’s ok! You’re not meant to work with everyone. Chalk it up to experience and move to the next person on your list. Add your own goals and incentives that give you a lift. It’s your game, your way!
4. Be prepared. Have two intentions for the call. One for the customer, and one for yourself. For the customer, you are calling to invite them into a travel conversation. Here are a few warm handshakes:
How are you ... really? (Genuine concern for a person's well-being never gets old)
I’m taking a survey on top destinations of interest for our promotions calendar - what's on your travel list?
I’m checking in on milestones – do you have any big ones coming up I should know about?
The purpose of the call for yourself: What is the closing action you are going after?
A time frame for future travel.
An invitation to a travel event
A sale when you know the timing is right!
5. Be curious. It's hard to stay quiet. It's hard for humankind, and even harder for enthusiastic, passionate, travel professionals. It’s normal to want to jump in and give advice and share experiences. It makes you feel like you are helping, when in fact, if you don’t have the question quite right, they will stop listening to your response, no matter what level of experience you have.
Even when you have the answers, resist the temptation to jump in. The more questions you ask, the more reasons you have to follow up and move them to the next level. My favorite question is, “do you mind if I ask you one more question.”
6. Be confident. In this age of uncertainty, confidence is like a line in the sand. You are either speaking from a place of knowing or you are hypothesizing, hoping, or projecting your beliefs. Try to stay above the line and speak with confidence about what you know for sure. You know your products, you have the experience, and you have your client’s best interests at heart.
7. Be clear. You want a travel conversation to lead to a committed relationship. My goal is to be your travel advisor. This opens the door to what that means to you and to the client. The future of travel is going to be even more complex. They will need someone to call to look after their travel needs. You would like to be that person for them. You also can’t work with everyone, so you’d like to make sure they are on your inner circle list. 8. Be better. Sales are like climbing a one-way staircase. Every time you learn a new skill, you reach a new level of success in your travel business, never to go back again. It takes practice and an honest assessment of what went well, and what you might do differently.
Evaluate each travel conversation and give yourself a rating. Give yourself a gold star for having the conversation. Then ask yourself, what would it take to get two gold stars?
Most importantly, enjoy the journey because this is FUN when you make it a game. When you stick to it, it will be both fulfilling and financially rewarding.
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PS Where you are is where you are, and that's ok. I wish you much success on the journey.