Sales for Travel Agents – First Contact
Analyzing and correcting problems in the sales process can increase the number of consumers who move all the way through the sales funnel to become repeat clients. By attempting to hone in on very specific areas where problems exist, the travel agent can make small adjustments to practices. Such fine-tuning is typically much more easily accomplished once the travel agent pin-points a problem. Consider a travel agent with 75 leads in her hands but only 40 of those leads agree to further discussion. Thus, in the first step of the actual sales cycle, 35 leads, almost one-half, fell out of the sales funnel at this crucial point. Improving the first contact with clients, then, might dramatically improve the number of clients moving further into the sales process.
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Depending on how a lead comes into the travel agent’s possession, the type of first contact may vary. Each lead generation channel will have its own anticipated success rate and appropriate manner of response. Leads from a web site might be in the form of email and first contact might be either an email or a telephone call. If the lead arrives by telephone, the travel agent may answer the call or return it from voice mail. If the lead is a referral, the travel agent might call, write a postcard or actually meet face-to-face with the potential client. Each form of first contact needs to be analyzed separately to determine which is working and which may have problems. If 80% of the outbound telephone calls are resulting in a meeting with the client, but only 30% of the emails generate a second contact, an analysis of the email format and styling may be the most productive exercise.
The concept of “first contact” also implies “first impressions.” The professionalism, attractiveness, confidence and competence of the travel consultant must be entirely self-evident in each and every point of contact. The travel consultant’s brand must be exemplary to create the appropriate persona to which the potential client will respond favorably. The first contact email needs to be polite, well written, grammatically correct and friendly. Voice mail needs to be high quality, understandable and quickly returned. The first contact phone call should be warm, friendly and professional with a well-modulated voice and a respect for the prospect’s time. The first contact handshake must be firm, with the travel agent warmly meeting the eyes of the client and welcoming them into the relationship. The first contact brochure must be professionally produced, client-centric and attractively informative.
Examine each of your lead generation channels and determine which ones are not producing as you anticipate they should. Locate potential problem spots or areas where you can enhance your first impressions. If possible, ask a third party to critically examine your internal processes for first contact. An objective eye might spot a problem quicker than your own. Think in terms of professionalism, warmth, competence and benefits. Chances are you will spot several opportunities for improvement and each small adjustment might move several more consumers further down the road to becoming clients.