Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Simply Sales with Scott – Hey Big Spender!
By the title of this column you may think that I might extol the virtues of luxury travel or give insight as to how to reach the affluent traveler. While those skills are valuable, I am instead going to take the perspective that no matter what the budget, all clients should be treated as ‘big spenders’ since for them, their vacation probably is a major purchase.
In my last article we looked at the fact that all selling is comprised of a series of steps. It is a matter for intellectuals to debate as to whether the steps start with everything that happens before the selling actually begins, like training, practicing, visualizing, preparation and prospecting. However, there is little debate that the real selling process starts with the first actual contact with the client. This is known as the Opening or the Greeting or in non sales vernacular – the First Impression. Studies have shown that first impressions are created in only three seconds and while not irreversible, if your client likes you from the beginning the whole sales process is easier and more enjoyable. We don’t need studies to prove what we have all experienced – if you feel more comfortable and relaxed (especially if you know you are in a sales environment) the more likely you are to buy. And if you really enjoy the experience and the relationship you will talk about it and come back. The ultimate goal in our business is not just closing the sale or completing the transaction but creating a lifetime client. That goal is so much easier to achieve if you create a fabulous first impression.
And that, of course, brings me to the song that makes this point. In the musical ‘Sweet Charity’ the following song takes on a bit of a risqué flair but let’s just focus on the opening lyrics:
The minute you walked in the joint I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender, good looking, so refined
Say wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on in my mind?
If every client you came in contact with felt like you saw them like this your sales would skyrocket! Unless your clients are buying a house or car, there is a good chance they will spend more money on this vacation than any other one thing during the year. So make them feel like Simply Sales with Scott – Hey Big Spender! ! It certainly doesn’t hurt to compliment your clients too. Not only good looking and so refined (but be sincere here so as not to become a stereotypical slimy salesman or musical theatre character) but make the point that they are a man (woman) of distinction because they were smart enough to find you!
What I love the most is the last question of the opening verse. You want to make your client feel important and appreciated and comfortable but you also want them to desire you! Unlike Sweet Charity you really do want them to know what’s going on in your mind. Remember you really do not sell travel or tours or cruises. You are selling your ability to help your clients live their dreams. Your mind and your ability to get to know their mind is what you need to excite them with.
I recently read an article in a marketing publication about the evolution of sales people due to the changes in our world over the last few years. While not addressing the travel business specifically I thought it was spot on. The column pointed out that most sales people were ‘brochure readers’ and spent most of their time disseminating product information. However studies now show consumers don’t want these brochure readers anymore. They have that information at their fingertips in more detail than ever imagined even a few years ago. So consumers now want salespeople who learn about them and then based on that knowledge can provide custom designed solutions. This is what all travel advisors need to focus on as the ‘product’. It is “what is going on in your mind” that needs to be extraordinarily alluring and why people seek you out.
If you take this to heart then you will fulfill the rest of the song:
Do you wanna have fun?
How’s about a few laughs?
I can show you a good time!
In a very casual vernacular that is what you do and probably why you got in this business. When you are good at what you do you will provide exactly the fun, laughs and good times your clients’ desire. Your clients will be clamoring to, as the song implores…
Spend a little time with me (you!)
Simply Sales with Scott – Hey Big Spender!