“Put yourself into the mind of your customer.” We have heard that phrase forever. I am not sure who originated it; but those 8 words have become the salesperson’s mantra. But there is more to it. Much more! Read on.
So, how do we get into the mind of our clients? What info do we need? How do we balance thinking like a sales consultant with thinking like a client? What are the questions and objections that the customers present? Put it simply—they have a problem, and we are here to help them solve it.
Define the problem.
It’s easy for you to guess your client’s problems. They are stressed and want a vacation. But is that the real problem? With every interaction, you need to be looking for signs of their problems and considering ways to solve them. What has them stressed? It may be time or it may be money—both will require a different approach. Listen for clues on how they attempted to solve them before and why it failed. Did they book that killer anniversary trip on Priceline and are now looking for divorce attorneys?
How can you solve their problem?
As you work at defining their problem, solutions will come up. The problem may be a desire to travel but lack of funds—look for affordable, shorter options. The problem may be that they have a ton of pets at home—refer them to a pet sitter or a reputable kennel. Is time an issue? Look to shorter durations. Work-a-holics? Explain the best places that have connectivity so if needed they can rest and connect at the same time. After all, isn’t that exactly what we do when we travel? Are we ever off the clock?
Are there risks?
Today’s customer is far smarter than customers at any period in time. If you think a client walks into your office (or calls you or emails you) is not armed with information you are a fool. After an initial discussion, you ought to know the risks that the client will bring up. Online reviews, news articles, State Department warnings, etc. After that first contact, do your homework and have answers to those questions when they come up. It shows how professional you are and, more importantly, how tuned into your client you are.
Now that you know the risks, mitigate them. State Department warning? Give them a geography lesson if needed. Poor Yelp reviews of a resort? Offer a better-reviewed resort with the same or similar amenities. News about crime in a destination? Have an alternate destination in mind if that risk is too much for the client.
Whatever you do, never avoid addressing the risks head on. You will not find a doctor that will tell you surgery is without risks. You will not find a financial planner to say that. Acknowledge the risks and attack them head on. We all have our own tolerances. I may have an opportunity to fly with the Blue Angels in a few months; that is a risk my girlfriend would never take!
What about price?
We are all consumers and inevitably price will come into the conversation.
First off. Try to avoid competing on price at all costs. You compete on your connections and your knowledge. And never assume that price is the same as value!
With that said, know your competition. Research your five main competitors and see where you stack up. They may be another consultant in town, an exclusive credit card (think Amex Black), or Priceline. And be sure to consider product, price, services, etc. Take note of what makes one competitor most attractive and you will be well on your way to thwarting them from gaining the business of your client.
If price is similar, point out your service, years of experience, or specific knowledge of a product or destination. Try to avoid comparing yourself to the competition; but revert back to how you (and you alone) can solve the problem for the client. Examples: “One of the things we are most proud of at ABC Travel is how many of our customers keep coming back time and time again—the average customer has been with us for 14 years.” “The favorite part of this business is meeting all the people. I have been traveling for 25 years and it is so awesome when I can call a hotel GM in Paris and get a table for a client on a sold out night.”
Lastly, be sure to track your results. A close percentage is a critical number for you. If 100 people contact you, how many will buy? Know that number. The other number to know is your true cost to make the sale—you don’t ever want to sell at a loss.
So there is some food for thought! What are yours? Leave a comment!