With football season just around the corner, I am reminded of the beautiful, yet brutal, game I played in my youth. I loved the game and while my career ended after high school, I can’t wait for each new season and my beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs to take the field. It is a sight to see. Every play, be it offensive or defensive, is carefully orchestrated, choreographed, and practiced to perfection.
Sales is similar, which is why you’ll often find sports analogies intertwined with business lessons. In both environments, a team is executing strategies that have been thought out and rehearsed. Above all – they are both contact sports, each in their own way.
In business, “contact” can mean three things. The first “contacts” can be your team, your support network. Very few achieve a high level of success without help from others. Even with individual sports such as boxing, swimming, running, or driving a race car; there is a team of coaches, caddies, pit crew, and others working hard behind the scenes contributing to the success of the individual.
For you, it means a team of trusted advisors: legal, accounting, suppliers, and business coaches who hold you accountable and focused on moving you towards your goal. You carry the bulk of the load after all (it’s your butt on the line) but a competent and supportive team will help carry the weight to new heights and pick you up from the gutter when you need them.
In retail sales, a client will typically buy their vacation from a travel professional. The second context of “contact” is the client. There is typically a conversation of some sort between two people that results in a mutual outcome – the sale. That conversation may take place in person, over the phone, via text, email, or a combination of the three. It is important to remember that all are simply tools to facilitate the contact or conversation.
But Dan, “What about the OTAs?” It is important to understand that while the commodity products such as air, car, and hotel are easily booked without the human touch; vacation packages typically require an actual contact. Expedia has a huge call center to facilitate this, as does Costco and other online retailers. This is also a reason Expedia acquired CruiseShipCenters. FYI: Virtually all vacation packages sold by an OTA involves human contact with the client.
Part of your job as an independent business owner, or commissioned sales person, is to hold on to as many customers as possible. So, the third “contact” is follow up. Maintaining contact with existing customers is much more cost effective than finding new ones. Since less than 30% of clients will typically use your services again, the more you can communicate with current and past clients – the more likely they are to book with you again. With a little effort, the long term pay-off can be huge.
Sales, like football, is a contact sport. It can be brutal in its own way. The amount of rejection one takes on as a salesperson can be debilitating. However, framed properly, it can be a great motivator.
It takes a team effort to achieve sustained success. People buy from people. While a certain amount of automation is good, it never replaces an actual conversation. I encourage you to build your support network, talk to your customers, and make them feel good about doing business with you.
Very few achieve success without help from experienced coaches and mentors. If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve financial freedom and become the Wealthy Travel Agent, visit www.danchappelle.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Chappelle is a professional business advisor, sales consultant, author, and speaker. His personal development and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders and entrepreneurs, His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com.