I have already stated I am not a social media expert (though I play one on Facebook). What I am, is a sales expert. Pretty much my entire life has been spent selling something. Greeting cards, door to door, when I was 9 years old. Since then– advertising, jewelry, cars, houses, cleaners and now travel. And I have taught others to sell and now I teach new agents to sell travel.
So I have listened to a lot of people discuss the Art of Selling. The single most profound thing I ever heard is this:
There are two kinds of buyers: buyers who buy, and buyers who don’t buy. The way you can tell them apart is buyers who buy, buy. And buyers who don’t buy, don’t buy.
I know, it sounds like a joke. But it’s not. The fact is, serious buyers take the right steps in the right order, and it’s a straightforward and simple process. Tire kickers, on the other hand, will not hesitate to waste your time, leading you all over the place as you try to nail them down to make a sale. Don’t fall for it. Learn to recognize them, and learn how to walk away. Every minute you spend with them is a minute you are not creating a new client or serving an existing one.
“Sales” is a process from “Hi, I am interested in a vacation” to “I sent your confirmation, thanks for your business.” Your goal is to make that process as short as possible. If at any time in the process the buyer tries to lead you down a different path, you try once (Once. Don’t give them a second chance to waste your time.) to lead them back. If they don’t follow, they are a buyer who won’t buy. If you’re smart, you walk away and spend your time looking for a buyer who’ll buy.
All this is based on the premise that you actually have a process and stick to it. For example, the customer contacts you and tells you what they want, you do some serious qualifying to find out what they really want, you come back with 2 or 3 options, they pick one or tweak it slightly, you hold everything, get the required disclosures out of the way, they give you a deposit, the buyer becomes a client; and you take off your sales hat and put on your customer service hat. If you don’t have a “Road To The Sale” like that, you need to get one. Get one from any sales training class–they all work, if you work them.
Now, I realize the hardest thing in the world for many of us is walking away when you smell a sale. But trust me on this – if they start out asking for a week in Hawaii with air/hotel/car, you find them a few options and they come back with a “we were kind of thinking Disney,” walk away. That is a buyer who won’t buy. And they’ll have you researching everything from river cruises in China to camping in Yellowstone. And the next thing you’ll find out, is that they did an Alaska cruise and booked it all online.
Likewise, if you are qualifying them and they mention they are waiting on a tax return or a settlement in a lawsuit, walk away. Those people will not remember your name if and when a check shows up.
If you give someone a serious quote, and they ask you to match someone else’s price – you guessed it, walk away! They are shopping you and 4 other agents. Even if you can compete on price, do you want to? If you do, you are likely to not make any money on the sale, and you will not gain a loyal customer. They will do the exact same thing on the next sale. Better to break up with them before they break up with you.
Oh, and speaking of break ups – if you’re smart you walk away the same way you break up with a significant other – always use the “It’s not you, it’s me” line. Explain that you don’t feel that you are the right professional for them and wish them good luck. No need for drama or blame. Just move on and find a buyer who buys!
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