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Who Do You Trust?

A handful of seasoned agents will recognize these four words as the title of a TV show first introduced in the early fifties and hosted by Johnny Carson.

Fast-forward nearly 60 years and these four words still represent an interesting question.

Exactly who can we trust today? Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone says they are the best at this extraordinary business skill. This, sadly, is not the case. The good news is that the competitive window is “open” for you to become truly exceptional at what you do in the coming year. And it all starts with the way you commit to service your customers.

This article will simply remind you of the importance of “treating your customers like dogs.” I am sure you will agree that we treat our pets with love and respect, and if you stop to think about it, our customers deserve the same treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Making 2017 The Best Year To Date

The New Year is fast approaching and everything you have accomplished in 2016 will soon be a memory. I certainly hope it was a year to be proud of, but if not, it still will be categorized as yesterday’s news.

My concern (and it should be your concern) is what lies ahead of us in the form of challenges, opportunities, and new, exciting relationships. I am sitting here thinking that 2017 is going to be a super year filled with all shapes and sizes of good things. I know that it will be up to me to make this happen. Read the rest of this entry »

It amazes me why straightforward, logical, and fundamental approaches to solving problems takes years to formulate in the adult brain. This question is only superceded by why it took man so long to put wheels on his luggage.

I recently stumbled upon a formula that not only makes sense, but I am betting will make the year 2017 your absolute best year to date when it comes to selling group travel space.

Regardless of your current practices or how successful these efforts have been to date, try to internalize the logic behind my recommendations. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Magic: Customer Satisfaction Campaigns

“Finding customers is the single most difficult marketing activity for small to mid-size companies.”

Marketing Magic by Don Debelak, page 150

This may be true, but it doesn’t have to send you into a frenzy. Let’s back off and give this finding customers thing a fresh coat of paint.

Before making it your business to add to a number of profitable new accounts to your customer list, I want you to make sure that those important customers already on the list are singing your praise. This can only be achieved the current customer satisfaction campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Magic: Summarize Your Value

“In seven or eight words tell me what your business does.”

Marketing Magic by Don Debelak, page 156

As simple as this exercise sounds, I am betting it will give you a major pain in your neck. As a matter of fact, and please do not overreact when I say, the chances are better than good that you don’t know what you do. Don’t fret. You are in very good company.

This quote reminded me of the Elevator Speech that grew in popularity over the last twenty years. In fact, I wrote a Special Report of the same name some years ago and found that my information was very much in demand. It was written to steer entrepreneurs towards clarity in defining their company’s position in the big picture. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Magic: The Best Way(s) to Advertise

“I must admit I am not a big fan of advertising.”

Marketing Magic by Don Debelak, page 15

Let me say this at the outset that advertising does indeed work. The reason I am not overly supportive of this marketing gambit has everything to do with the nature of your company and the size of your marketing budget.

That being said, I may not be talking to you. If this is the case, have a nice day. For 98.4% of you, you might want to listen to my rationale. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Dog Sales Secrets: Sincerity Breeds Prosperity

“Closing With Confidence”

Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 55

I don’t want to sound hypocritical or appear guilty of playing games with word choices. I am extremely fond of the word “confidence” although often mystified by its “here today-gone tomorrow” nature. And as you know, the word “closing” is not my first choice.

Let’s address confidence first. How do you get it? How do you benefit from it? How do you lose it? How do you get it back? Read the rest of this entry »

Top Dog Sales Secrets: More and Better Questions

“Your Most Powerful Sales Tool (Questions)”

Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 74

Here we go again. The topic of asking questions seems to have surfaced on page 74. I suppose what caught my attention in this quote are the words “powerful” and “tool.”

Sales today has very little (nothing) to do with “the gift-of-gab” and waxing eloquent while trying to talk people into buying your particular product or service. Consumers (people) are too smart for those tactics and thanks to the Internet, they are probably just as well-versed on your topic as you are.  (Sorry!) Read the rest of this entry »

“Do You Believe In Magic?”

Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 97

Why in the world would this phrase on page 97 catch my attention? I think the answer will soon become apparent.

Much has been written about the notion of entitlement these days, especially as it relates to those under the age of (fill in the blanks.) Agents go to trade shows, attend seminars, listen to webinars, join associations, subscribe to E-zines, and occasionally read a few interesting articles from industry rags. Read the rest of this entry »

“Stop Your Sales Pitch; Start Your Conversation.”

Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 116

At my age and experience, I think I am entitled to having a few pet peeves. Entitled or not, I have a few. Like it or not, you are about to hear them.

In addition to the regulars: 1) saying ‘thank you” instead of “no problem,” and 2) actually looking at the people you are speaking to, there are four business terms I cringe at. This is not to say that those guilty of using these words are bad people or misinformed. These words just don’t have a place in my vocabulary. These words are “close,” as in close a sale. Up-sell, as in “you buy this and I will immediately sell you something with a higher commission.” And overcoming objections.  Who in their right mind looks forward to having their “objections overcome”? Not me, and hopefully, not you. Read the rest of this entry »

“Everybody loves to buy.”

Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 136

You finally bit the bullet and started your dream job. You are now an entrepreneur selling travel, and life doesn’t get any better than that. Or does it?

After you seek help and support from all your relatives and neighbors, you find that nobody seems to care about you or your new venture.  You find that some people act as if they are going to work with you, only to find out they went ahead and booked their trip themselves on the Internet. Upon entering the market, it appears that you failed to give proper consideration to the competitive nature of this business. Read the rest of this entry »

Speak Like A CEO: Celebrate Yourself

“Tip #10: Take time to celebrate success”

Speak Like A CEO by Suzanne Bates, page 181

This quote brings me to a story I tell during my live seminars. I ask the audience to envision a hockey game. They are sitting at center ice watching the proceedings. The skaters skate from left to right and back again. They bump into each other and a few players fall down and slide into the boards. A guy takes a shot and misses, before everybody skates toward the other end of the rink. This scenario continues for the next 20 minutes with sweat flying and fists flailing. The puck rolls, flies, and bounces for what appears to be continuous futile attempts at scoring a goal. Read the rest of this entry »

Speak Like A CEO: Word Choice Creates Selling Ideas

“Choosing your words wisely can sell an idea.”

Speak Like A CEO by Suzanne Bates, page 117

I have come to the point where I have developed a pretty clear list of likes and dislikes when it comes to word choice. I guess that comes with bumping into more than a handful of people over the last 68 years. I have had the privilege of seeing many admirable traits among my peers, associates, and competitors. I have also been witness to a number of indiscretions that I don’t care to comment on today. Read the rest of this entry »

“A major mistake is creating a presentation before thinking about what you want to say.”

Speak Like A CEO by Suzanne Bates, page 84

It wasn’t too many years ago when the ideal sales candidate exhibited an outgoing extroverted personality. In order to be considered as a successful sales candidate, you had to come with the “gift-of-gab” and be highly tolerant of being rejected.

Am I glad those days are over! Read the rest of this entry »

Speak Like A CEO: With Experience Comes Confidence

“Comfort goes hand in hand with confidence and leadership. Even in a new situation, put other people at ease and you will come across like a leader.”

Speak Like A CEO by Suzanne Bates, page 41

Today’s message follows yesterday’s reminder like a hand in glove. First comes mistakes, and then comes experience. And like it was scripted, confidence follows experience. How cool is that?

Your job in your travel business is to know your business. The unwritten understanding is that you have been there and done that, and very little has the ability to confuse you or knock you off stride. You are a professional.

Let me share a quick vignette with you: Read the rest of this entry »

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”

Speak Like A CEO by Suzanne Bates, page 37

If I am starting to sound like a broken record, it is because you have heard me say this no less than a twenty times in the last few months. Mistakes are a good thing. They are not something you seek, but they are not something you shy away from. The word mistake is synonymous with the word failure, and failing remains your fastest way to progress.

There, I said it again. Read the rest of this entry »

“The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 50

As many of you know, this is one of my favorite topics. You can think of less-than-glowing results as mistakes, or you can consider them failures. Regardless of your word choice, some things just are not going to work out as you would have liked.

You know the drill by now. I bang out a few examples designed to make you feel good. I tell you how a famous playwright failed to acquire backing from more than 35 banks before finding the funding needed. Or how Michael Jordan was cut from his first basketball team, or how many times Babe Ruth struck out. Read the rest of this entry »

“Play your cards right.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 64

Today’s quote has a couple of lessons attached.

The first one has to do with timing. You have to know when to hold them and you have to know when to fold them, as Kenny Rogers so eloquently reminded us in song. I suppose we can consider this as “timing.” When to speak, when to listen, when to act, and when to double down your efforts are all important decisions you will have to make on a daily basis. Read the rest of this entry »

“Suppliers are only as good as you are. Don’t hide behind your suppliers hoping that they will produce the magic. They won’t. You are the magic.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 84

One thing I have learned with over 40 years of travel experience under my belt is that suppliers are people. And people, due to their human nature, exhibit various levels of proficiency. This is my way of implying that there are many smart, hard working, honest, caring suppliers to choose from. I am just as quick to remind you that there are also plenty of suppliers (made up of people) who don’t know “3rd base from the dugout.” You may be more familiar with the term “not knowing their ass from their elbow.” (In both cases, the inference is exactly the same.) Read the rest of this entry »

“Decide you are going to make the company great; at least decide that you are going to make a difference.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 97

I immediately was drawn to this quote. Why work at anything for so many hours a week if you are not going to try to be the best at what you do? As my recently formed company suggests, it all starts with your head. You have to get yourself thinking straight and believing that what you are doing makes perfect sense to all concerned. Having achieved this mindset, trying to improve your skills becomes easier. It is kind of like “an object in motion tends to stay in motion” thing. Read the rest of this entry »