Simply Sales with Scott
Written By: Scott Koepf, Senior Vice President of Sales, Avoya Travel
I think we can all agree that while each of us have a slightly different personality, there are actually certain characteristics that make us more alike than different. Understanding those similarities or the primary differences can be the key to sales success.
Because we work in such an exciting and fun industry it is easy to spend a tremendous amount of time gaining product knowledge. The training programs have evolved to a magnificent level and are available from Host Agencies, Consortia and of course destinations and suppliers. You can earn countless certifications and specialist designations through wonderful education programs designed by our supplier partners. In addition, we are compelled to suffer for our craft by traveling all over the world to bring back personal experience and firsthand knowledge of what we sell. All those pursuits of education are worthwhile and beneficial but come with a catch.
Product Knowledge will make you smart but Client Knowledge will make you indispensable! Let’s face it, customers have almost the same amount of product information available to them as you do. As they will be focused on just one destination or type of travel they will come to you with more in depth information on their potential vacation options than ever before. So being able to have a good conversation about the options they have narrowed their choices to will at least put the customers mind at ease that they are talking to a professional. However, winning the sale and making a lifetime client will not be a result of knowing the facts about our products. Instead it will be based on how much you know about your customer and then to match them with the right product. Having Product Knowledge is important but how you use it and present it is the catch!
There are basically two things that you need understand about customers. The first may seem obvious but worth mentioning which is gathering the facts around the vacation. At the highest level this boils down to what I call the five D’s – Date, Destination, Duration, Dollars (Budget) and Desires. While you can make a booking with the first four, you will make a client for life only if you focus on the last D. If the first thing to understand about what clients want is the collection of facts, then the second is to determine what makes them tick!
This can be learned by determining what they really want from this vacation (family time, romance, education, etc.) which will certainly be helpful in presenting the right product in the right way. Yet, as we noted at the beginning of this article, people are different. So even if you have the right information and present the right option it may still fall flat. Why? Because there are basically four different personality types that will want information delivered differently to truly have an impact on them.
There are multiple programs and tests that have been developed to determine personality characteristics and while all are slightly different, most of the results have ended up with four basic personality types. They are called various titles from Owls and Peacocks to Socializers and Dreamers. While no one wants to be put in a set category, generally we are all primarily one of these ‘types’. Of course, each person will have a mixture of each type but one of the four will dominate. The following charts provide one set of definitions and characteristics.
You can sign up for classes on this subject and even become certified in various personality evaluation programs. As you are in the people business even more than the travel business I would recommend the pursuit of knowledge in this area. The goal is not to become an analyst and explain to someone why they are an Expressive. Instead it is to give you the ability to understand your customer better so that you can communicate with them in the way they want to hear from you. If you get the chance to see Paul Wiseman, President of Trafalgar Tours do a presentation on this subject you will see a tour de force on the power of this approach.
Until you have a full understanding of these personality traits, I recommend immediately using matching and mirroring with your clients. This does not mean that you change your personality or the questions you ask. However, it does mean that you focus on how the client is interfacing with you and to try to mirror what their preferences are. If they are direct then make sure your answers are direct, if they are emotional and detailed in their responses then make sure you deliver information in the same way. We all agree that people learn in different ways and when you think about it, sales is nothing more than teaching customers the best path to follow. One size does not fit all and the more you can customize your interactions with each customer the more success you will have. In other words, by celebrating our differences you will celebrate more sales!