Scott Koepf CTC, MCC
Senior Vice President of Sales
In my last column I encouraged you to embrace your inner salesperson and be enthusiastic about not just what you sell but selling itself. If you are not able to admit that you are in the sales business then you probably won’t spend time learning about sales and the skills it requires. Product knowledge and personal experience are wonderful assets but without the ability of how to capitalize on that knowledge will result in unfulfilled potential.
So the first requirement of being a successful salesperson is to admit you are one! There are then two other things necessary that make up the foundation of successful selling. The first of which you have no doubt heard before and is the mantra of most motivational speakers. Attitude. This is not just a plea to ‘think happy thoughts’ or ‘have an attitude of gratitude’. It is a daily choice you need to make that will determine your short and long term success in travel sales business.
You are part of the most exciting and fun industry in the world so one would think that a great attitude will be easy to have. However, most of your days will be full of dealing with challenges and the realities of being in sales will set in. Many clients will suck your brain dry of advice and not buy or squeeze you down to a profit margin of $1.29 or simply be impossible to please. A great attitude won’t eliminate those situations, it will just give you the strength to get through them. But it is not a grin and bear it mindset that is called for but an attitude of desire for being the best you can be.
While a positive attitude and motivation are part of the foundation they are actually the easier of the elements of the foundation for successful sales. As the great Zig Ziglar said “If you send an idiot to a motivational seminar, all you have is a motivated idiot!” I certainly don’t mean to infer anyone in our industry (and certainly not anyone wise enough to be reading this) is an idiot. Zig is simply making the point that motivation and a great attitude are not enough. The other part of the foundation is where the hard work comes in and it is what sets the great apart from the good. It is the development and implementation of a very specific system for selling. I mean a detailed written sales process that while allowing for flexibility provides a solid step by step approach to selling the best product in the world – travel!
Unfortunately there are probably less than 5% of travel sellers today who have this in place today. It is nothing to be ashamed of because no one (except me, obviously) is really teaching this reality. In truth there are probably less than five people in total who teach the basics of sales in this business. They are all quite good and make wonderful suggestions and all of us generally are providing the same uniquely packaged advice,. However if you want to really be the best you possibly can be at sales you have to plan for, practice, script out and consistently adjust (in writing) every element of the sales process.
Does this sound like fun? Probably not! No one really likes to do the preparation work. In sports this is called the drills, in music it might be the scales, in theatre it is the rehearsals. These are not as fun as the game or the show but if you were in the audience you have the expectation that those on stage or in the game have put in all of the work to provide an exceptional performance. Have you? I am not talking about product knowledge or the basics of booking travel. That is a given to even get a chance to play in the game or be in the show. Only hours of practice make the best athletes or entertainers no matter how gifted or talented.
Are you ready to create a unique sales system that will provide the foundation to support your gifts and abilities to bring extraordinary success? I hope so as I will be walking you through the development of that system in the coming months. If you can’t wait to get started then the first homework assignment (see, I told you this may not be fun!) is to write down from beginning to end what you currently think is the sales process you use. Be as detailed as possible through the entire life cycle of the sale. Don’t worry if it is right or wrong or good or bad, the good news is that this homework will not be graded! Yet it will give you a place to start so that through the continuation of these articles you can, you guessed it, improve and strengthen upon your foundation for sales success!