For years I have gone on record to remind my readers that a career in sales can be easy, fun and profitable. I say “easy” because all you’re doing is sharing what you already know, and offering educated opinions to interested prospects. I say “fun” because making money is fun. Helping people is fun. Being your own boss is fun. Making people happy is fun. I say “profitable” because getting paid what you’re worth spending time with the right people for the right reason insures that you will remain in business for some time to come.
Before I applaud your “excellence” developed over years of study, learning, research, listening, watching reading, homework, persistence, creativity, tenacity, reorganization, membership, attendance and hard-earned experiences, I want to remind you that this reputation can be easily destroyed in a moment of haste or impetuousness.
There is a warning sign I like to refer to as a “Red Flag.” And trust me, you do not want to raise it. A “Red Flag” can be something one says, does not say, does, does not do, writes, does not write, implies, does not imply or just about anything you can do that indicates that you may not be on top of your game.
I spot them more often than I care to admit. My latest observation of a Red Flag being raised happened a week before Christmas when I was doing some due diligence for my brother. I was researching a wireless blue tooth printer. When you put the words wireless next to the color blue and throw in the word tooth, it is time for me to reach out to the experts.
I was standing in the printer aisle at Best Buy looking as stupid as I dared, hoping some knowledgeable printer specialist would soon put me out of my misery with some good, solid, honest old fashion customer service. Danny appeared on the scene, promptly looked me in the eye and provided me with his “opinion.” I admit I entered the store pretty much in the dark, but I did manage to spend twenty minutes Googling the subject prior to my playing stupid. When I heard what sounded like a contradiction, a “Red Flag” shot up and I began to question any additional information coming from Danny’s direction.
I thanked him politely for his time, and wished him a very genuine and sincere Merry Christmas before ducking down the headphone aisle and over to the Geek Squad Desk. That is where Lenny graciously listened to my situation and gave me information, which was not quite in sync with Danny’s. I was growing more confused as now, I did not know who or what to believe. I continued “playing stupid.”
I wandered over to the computer area where a computer sales “pro” asked if he could help me without looking at me or taking a break from what he was typing. (Another Red Flag flew out of my quiver in the direction of BB’s customer service department.) His recommendation supported Lenny, but I wasn’t done yet. Leo was next, and now I could feel Danny, Lenny, and doofus looking at me wondering if I was a corporate “suite” playing secret shopper.
Leo came across as a straight shooter who helped me frame my problem and made me feel like I finally had a handle on the situation. He did not impress me with his knowledge. He impressed me with his interest and the fact that he did not come across as a know-it-all.
I will say it again, as I am now fearing I might have lost a few of you with my story: a Red Flag is anything that alerts the prospect or customer that you may be sliding into the zone where it might not be prudent to blindly adhere to any advice forth coming. Once a degree of doubt or uncertainty enters the relationship, you are fighting an uphill and often times a losing battle.
You can avoid raising Red Flags in the minds of your prospects in a number of ways.
- Do your homework. Know the basics, and know what you don’t know.
- Don’t guess. The world is a big playing field and it is the one you are playing on. You are not expected to know it all. If you are not certain, ask for time to finds out.
- Continue to do your homework. Always be studying your trade when you are not plying your trade.
- Follow up. If you say you are going to do something, do it.
- Admit what you don’t know. There is no shame in this. I refer back to point #2. The world is a big place.
If you tack these five suggestions to the bottom of the Boy Scout’s Motto, you are sure to enjoy your career in travel sales for years to come.
Mike Marchev has plenty of stories, strategies and tactics to keep you on top of your game.
Mike will be conducting his 5th annual Travel Sales & Marketing Business Development Cruise, sailing the Freedom of The Seas from Ft. Lauderdale. Email him at email@example.com for complete details. Five cabins are still available.
Mike’s daily column is made possible by AmaWaterways.