Let’s be brutally honest… no one wants to be considered a true “salesman”, right? I think car dealerships really ruined that title for everyone.
So let’s call a spade a spade: Sales can have a bad reputation.
But sales is what really keeps our business alive. You can have the best client experience and a strategic marketing strategy all you want, but if you are unable to convince people why it’s worth it to work with you, your travel business will never be profitable.
Seems a little harsh… but we aren’t here to sugar coat the facts.
The good news is that you can humanize the process so that your sales calls don’t feel like “sales calls”. When you bring a relatable, human element into your sales approach you shift away from just pushing your services onto someone and towards helping people solve their problems.
So how do you humanize the sales process? Let’s dive in…
Do your research.
Under no circumstances should you ever jump into a sales call completely blind. This is another reason why we are so passionate about using fairly detailed inquiry forms and using a platform (like Calendly) to schedule your sales calls. This helps you avoid random leads from finding you online/social media and just calling you out of the blue.
In your inquiry form, you should have at least enough questions to help you identify:
- The general details like budget & dates/time of year
- The destinations that they are interested in
- The occasion that they are traveling for
- The experience that you potential client is looking for
When you step into a sales call with this information ahead of time, you are able to tailor your message to provide customized solutions and unparalleled value!
For example, if a bride completes your form about her honeymoon and expresses that the only thing her and her new spouse want to do on their trip is lounge by the pool and relax… You can guess that probably stems from the burnout that couples can feel while planning their wedding. So walking into that sales call you know to hit on how stressful wedding planning can be and how your expertise can help create a truly stress-free and relaxing honeymoon. Because you can probably bet she is already being pulled in a million other decisions.
And if a client submits a request about a destination that you know nothing about, lean on your supplier relationships to help you better prepare for your call!
Get them talking about themselves.
Our favorite person to talk about is ourselves. Studies have shown that talking about oneself activates the same areas of the brain that light up when we eat really good food, take drugs, or even have sex (sorry to make this R rated). Simply put, talking about ourself is gratifying. It gives us a neurological buzz. And when someone allows us to take that domaine hit, we instantly like them more.
In social situations, it’s quite annoying to encounter that person who shifts all conversation back to them… but in the world of sales, this is your secret weapon.
Make sure to open up your sales call with a natural interaction that allows them to opportunity to tell them more about themselves. Going back to my honeymoon example, one of my favorite opening questions was “tell me about how you guys met” – as a previous bride it was always one of my favorite stories. And it typically started the conversation on a really personal note, which only made the rest of our conversation around their trip and my services feel like we were just talking to a friend.
Bonus points if you conduct your calls over a video platform like Zoom or Google Meet. This will helps put a face to the name and cuts down the chances that they are likely to ghost you!
Ask open ended questions
The worst kinds of answers are yes and no answers. Open ended questions require a person to pause, think, and reflect on their answer, which oftentimes includes more personal feelings, opinions, or ideas than just a simple answer.
Be sure to prepare open ended questions before your sales call. Start these questions with words or phrases like why, how, what, describe, tell me about…, or what do you think about… And if you have to ask a close-ended question ask “why” and “how” as a follow up. This will help you gain a more thorough answer!
Some examples of good questions to ask on a sales call are:
- Tell me about your ideal trip.
- Describe your ideal accommodations?
- How would you describe your travel style?
- Have you ever worked with an agent before? If so, what was your experience? If not, why?
Listen. Really listen.
Listening is a true skill that very few people can say they have truly conquered. Our minds are always racing to process information. So it is very common that while we are communicating with another person, we are not truly listening to their answer at all. Instead we processing what we want to say next because we can quickly get uncomfortable by pauses in the conversation.
This why preparation is so important. If you have a general idea of the questions you need to ask, you can use your full energy to listen and take diligent notes on the conversation instead of racking your brain for that next golden question to ask.
By the way, we highly recommend taking detailed notes on all of your sales calls. When you are able to reference the initial conversation to better explain your selection in hotel or tour company, etc. you are showing the client that you took their call seriously and listened to what they were saying.
There is an art to the follow up!
The follow up to a sale is the thing that can really set you apart. Be sure the send them a personal follow up email about a day or so after the call thanking them for their time and express your excitement to work with them.
This does not have to be a long novel recapping the entire call, but it does bring the personal element back into the sales process. In today’s fast paced world, a simple thank you email tells the client that you took the time and the effort to show your appreciation for them.
Also be sure to outline any next steps or when they can expect to hear from you again. This sets the boundary that you are working on their proposal/quote and when they can expect to hear back form you… and avoids the constant check in emails.
Sales calls don’t have to feel slimy. They are a way for you to get to know an ideal client better and determine if your services would be a good fit for them. The goal should never be to close every single deal… because honestly not every new client is right for your business! And that is okay!
Your goal should be that every client who interacts with your brand should walk away with a positive experience, whether they turn into a client or not.