These days it seems most of my first contacts with prospective clients are written; the days of face-to-face (or even voice-to-voice) transactions are quickly fading into the sunset
I spent years as a salesman obsessing over every detail of how I dressed, how I sat and stood, entered a room or shook hands, all to make sure the prospect had a good impression from the moment we met. Likewise, I’ve spent many hours perfecting my phone greetings and conversations.
I realized a few years ago, that I just never gave that much thought to how I responded to emails, texts and messages. I decided to change that by analyzing (or obsessing) over written responses as much as I used to obsess whether my tie was the right shade of blue. I heartily suggest you do the same. Honestly, my conversion rate from written contacts has doubled since I start paying attention to my first written impression.
Let’s say you receive an email that says:
Hi, (insert your name) – My wife and I are thinking about taking a cruise on Ship X to Destination Y on or around Date Z.
In the past, I might have responded within a few minutes with something like this:
Hi (insert prospect’s name)! Thanks for the opportunity blah blah…I can get you on Ship X to Destination Y on Date Z for $3000 in a balcony cabin, $2500 O/V or $2000 inside. Let me know.
That was then. Now, I’ve realized the best way to answer, is to start a conversation and qualify the client a little, just as I would if he were standing in front of me. Also, while the message seems straightforward, there is probably information the prospect left out. So, after reading the message 3 or 4 times, and thinking about it for 10 minutes, my answer today would be more like:
Hi, Prospect – Thank you blah blah. In order to begin my research and to provide you with excellent service, let me ask a few questions – Will your children be joining you on this cruise, or other family or friends? Have you sailed on Ship or Line X before? If so, what was your favorite part of the cruise? Have you been on this itinerary in the past, or are you trying something new? Also, how flexible are your dates? If I can find you a better deal and/or amenities moving it a week or two, do you want a quote on a range of dates? Oh, and what is your budget for this trip? Once I have this information, I will be able to find the perfect vacation for you!
Finally, how did you hear about me? If it was from one of my many satisfied clients, let me know, so I can thank them! Sincerely, DAVE blah blah blah.
See? Now you’ve started a conversation, which shows you care about more than money; found out what you really need to know for a solid quote; have a pretty good idea if he is flexible and in what areas; have a budget to work with (which I usually increase by 33% in my first quote because most buyers are liars); and you’ve planted two seeds…
- You have lot’s of happy customers
- You reward referrals (I’ve always believed it’s never to early to ask for referrals. I have even gotten referral business from people who ultimately didn’t book with me).
They say that you only have one chance to make a first impression. I say, don’t waste it!
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