Simply Sales with Scott
Vice President Sales and Marketing
(Scott Koepf, MCC, CTC is a thirty year veteran of the retail travel business and while he has owned two travel agencies and worked for various franchises and agencies, his passion is helping travel agents become successful. Each travel agent, especially home based agents, wears multiple hats every day: CEO/Business Owner Hat, Marketing Hat, Travel Agent Hat and Sales Hat.
Each of these roles are imperative for your success and in each case there are different skill sets and abilities that must be learned and mastered to maximize success. In some cases you can outsource those skills. In other cases you can find great resources to draw upon to help. However the one skill that you need to constantly improve upon and will influence your ability to increase your income more than any other is Sales. There are many experts who teach marketing, product knowledge, travel agent service and business acumen but less than five experts in the travel industry who specifically teach the mechanics of selling. We have asked Scott to join us for a monthly column to focus on this very important aspect of your business.)
Before the Beginning
Sales. Selling. Salesperson. What emotions well up in you when you hear those terms?
Travel. Destinations. Vacations. Now what emotions do these words bring up for you?
If you are like most people and most travel professionals, the first terms do not bring warm and fuzzy thoughts and may even be scary. They may even paint terrible mind pictures of slimy slick snake oil peddlers. Ahh, but the second set of terms are probably why you are reading this newsletter and why you are in this business. Not only are you passionate about travel, but you are knowledgeable and have no doubt that you can provide exceptional service to customers. I have no doubt you can, but therein lies the challenge, before you can Wow your customer with your brilliance and mind blowing service, there is one minor detail that needs to occur…a sale.
Ugh. The truth is, if you actually want to make money in this business that you are passionate about, then you need to be passionate about selling, too. Travel is fun, sexy, exciting and life changing, and you probably would not describe selling with the same words….but you should! Before these articles start digging into the sales process, techniques, and best practices, we have to start with a belief that it is worth your time and effort to learn about what may terrify you.
Selling is fun. Really? Yes! With the right approach and the right attitude you can enjoy selling as much as the product you sell. At its root, selling is just the process of helping people achieve their dreams. And you have the privilege to do just that. Potential customers will know right away if you are having fun helping them and we all know fun is contagious. Make fun a communicable affliction in your conversations and emails with potential customers and your customers will look forward to working with you.
Selling is sexy! That word has many connotations so let’s just say selling is attractive. “But wait!”, you say, “I picture a pushy, unauthentic person trying to shove people into something they don’t want.” Good. Now you know what you don’t want to be. Good sales techniques and systems are not manipulative and are designed to build relationships, not transactions. Do the negative stereotype salespeople still exist? You bet. But so do salespeople who are so attractive that customers are raving to their friends and family and creating unending repeat and referral business. We could just say that if you are a nice person and have good knowledge then you will have success, but unfortunately that is not the case. Our industry is full of really nice folks that know more than seems humanly possible about the products, but are barely making a living. Why? Either because they don’t want to admit they are in sales, or are not willing to learn and then change what they do, so that they can become attractive to customers. The choice is yours.
Selling is exciting! A Stanford study found that 85% of sales success was based on enthusiasm versus only 15% from product knowledge. But remember it is not enthusiasm about travel (if you are reading this then we will consider that a given), it is enthusiasm for your customer and how you will help them. If you have a negative attitude toward selling then it will come through to your customers. Embrace your Sales Hat – it is the best looking hat you wear!
Selling is Life Changing! Maybe not every salesperson can make this claim, but you can. Vacations and travel create many of life’s highlights and memories, and you get to help arrange them. But don’t let the travel itself be the only life changing experience for your customer. By designing a sales process and system so unique to you, your customers will talk as much about the buying experience as the product itself.
Each of these descriptions of sales is actually a two-way definition. Yes, your clients will feel each of these, but if you embrace sales, you personally will have fun, be sexy, be exciting and your life will be changed!