I have been selling stuff pretty much all my life–both “tangibles” (houses, cars) and “intangibles” (advertising, travel). Here’s a thing I have learned over the centuries since I was selling greeting cards door-to-door to earn a model rocket when I was 9 years old–people are not rational. They just aren’t. If they were, we’d all be out of business. No one in the world needs to take a cruise or go to Hawaii. We humans are, for better or worse, ruled by our emotions, no matter what we like to tell ourselves. Yes, we have a brain. But, let’s face it – most of us use them sparingly.
This is why appealing directly to people’s intelligence with logic almost never results in a sale. On the other hand, appealing to their wants and desires almost never fails. If you make the client feel happy about the proposed vacation, they’ll overcome their own objections about price and timing and you won’t have to. Talk about a load off your shoulders!
Going back to the tangibles and intangibles for a moment; it is much easier to create a want for a physical object. Car dealers and Realtors know a million tricks on how to stage a house or light a showroom to evoke an emotional response. So even while a Realtor is describing the condition of the plumbing or the square footage or whatever “logical” nonsense he’s talking, he is showing you a kitchen that’s been staged to look and smell “homey.” Even while a car salesman is telling you about MPG, ABS and 0-60 times, he is making sure you smell new leather and hear the solid “thunk” of a door closing that equals “safe” and “dependable.” With intangibles, like cruises, you have to be a little more creative to get the client’s limbic system involved. First off, people are happier when dealing with people like themselves. You need to find a commonality with them and play on it. Whether it’s a favorite place, a favorite football team or a mutual hobby. Find it, and use it. People want to do business with someone who is “just like me.” Yes, we are that narcissistic.
Another thing you have to do is, if you’ll excuse the cliche, “paint a picture” with your words. Never tell a client the ship is 800 feet long and the GRT is 102,000 tons with a cruising speed of 18 knots. Instead, you use emotional loaded words, and paint a picture. Then put the client right in the scene. Rooms are NOT “X” square feet. They are elegant, flamboyant, tropical, casual, rustic, etc. And when you put the client in them they are going to feel comfortable, excited, pampered or relaxed. You don’t say there are 4 lounges. You tell the client how they will enjoy a lovely waltz with their partner after dinner in the Gatsby Lounge. Or how they will get to funky town dancing in the club until 3am. You get the picture.
And while we’re speaking of pictures – use them! Literally! Liberally! Actual pictures are far easier than painting one with your words. If you ever respond to a client inquiry by mail, email or private message and don’t include half-dozen pictures of the hotel/ship/destination…you’re doing it wrong. While the words are important, the photos will really get their juices flowing. There is a direct line from the human eye to the human heart. We are very visual creatures. The only thing that evokes a stronger emotional response is smell. So, until someone invents a way to send the smell of a tropical beach by email…use photographs.
Oh, and one last thing: Make them laugh! Yes. Humor is critical to changing a person’s mood and making them receptive to an emotional pitch. If you’ve ever been in any sort of relationship, and had a fight…logic will never win the argument. But if you can cut through and get them to laugh, or even smile…you win!
So, there you have it. Whether it’s turning a “no” into a “yes,” or upselling an existing client, or whatever. Don’t try to change people’s minds, until you’ve changed their mood. Because when you’ve got them by the heart, their minds will follow.
David Holman is a Partner at Bridges & Holman Worldwide Travel, The Mobile Agent Host. He has been in the travel business since 2005, and the author of “Live From…Cruise Ship Reviews” and “Top 8 Cities in America”, both available on Amazon. www.holmantravel.com