Over and again, this column has emphasized the need for a strong marketing plan set in writing. However, it is equally true that regardless of how good a marketing program you have, it is the sales process that is going to make or break your business. You can spend lots of money getting consumers to your front door, to give you a call or to visit your website. But if they then don’t allow you to plan their trip, nothing happens and all of that fantastic marketing is for naught. Marketing drives sales, there is little doubt about that. But it is your own understanding and execution of sales technique that, at the end of the day, makes something happen.
Your marketing creates a consumer’s propensity to buy from you. Your sales ability closes the transaction. Your client’s initial interactions with you set the stage for their involvement with you as a travel professional. Your clients will want a lot of questions answered about hotel properties, options, pricing and payment. They will be evaluating your expertise and demeanor. They will observe your tone of voice, your manner of dress and your level of confidence. Your potential client will want to feel as though you empathize with them and that their plans are important to you.
The good news is that you can, in fact you should, be in control of every aspect of the sales process. You, as the expert, can control the sales environment. You have to be 100% authentic – clients will detects “salesmanship” in a heartbeat and will shy off. But you also have to have a solid understanding of the sales process, the psychology of your clients and the importance of first impressions. Set the stage for success. This is what all your marketing has wrought, now it’s time to deliver on the expectations you have set. Now is the time to be the boss – take control of the process, inspire trust and confidence, demonstrate your empathetic concerns for the needs of your client. Be prepared, even rehearse. Set the psychology and the tone of the encounter so that the client knows you are not going to sell them anything. Instead, you are going to help them make an intelligent buying decision.
That is, indeed, the wonderful thing about consultive sales. You are not selling travel, you are selling yourself. But, in order to do so, you have to be the ultimate stage master, in control of the environment and the tenor of the transaction. Assume that role well and you will have many happy clients.