The art of the sale | Travel Research Online


The art of the sale

Several months ago I was shopping with my daughter. We walked in a well-known store. We were the only ones in the store besides the two sales associates. Neither associate bothered to greet us, acknowledge us in any way, or even remotely show that they saw someone walk into their establishment. Instead they proceeded to talk to each other and completely ignore us. My daughter and I walked out disgusted and appalled by their behavior.

Across the street in the same shopping area there is a store with pretty much the same clothing—jeans, shirts, t-shirts, purses, belts, etc. When we walked in that store we were greeted warmly by the sales associates. One, in particular, immediately asked how she could help without being too pushy or too forward. I was looking at jeans and jokingly told her that I could never seem to find a pair that fit. Lo and behold she said, “I have just the thing.” She knew her product and knew what would not only fit me, but look great on me at the same time. I have to be honest here. I had no intention of buying jeans when I walked in the store. I was a browser. But, her great salesmanship, attitude, and knowing what worked with my body type had me buying not one, but two pairs.

It’s easy to see which store got it right: the second store. And in the process, they have a customer for life.

Fast forward to this past weekend, we noticed the first store whose sales associates ignored us was shuttered. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The culture of that store was not customer centric, or even politeness. It’s no wonder the store was closed.

While travel and jeans are two vastly different products, the sales process is still the same: be customer centric. Ask questions to find out what your customers want, and more importantly listen, really listen to them. Offer solutions. The sales associate at the second store discovered that I had problems finding great fitting jeans—and she had a solution! Be a problem solver! Find your client’s problems. Why are they traveling? Is it to relax, to spend time with their families, or to just get away? Offer a solution.

Lastly, never fail to acknowledge your clients and prospects. Be polite on the phone and in person no matter what kind of day you might be having. The next phone call may be that life-long, high-end, always-referring client we all need!

Mary Stephan is the IC Team Sales Leader for Preferred Travel of Naples.  Mary can be reached by email at or online at


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