Fine Tune Your Sales Skills: Know Your Business, Product and Customers

If you think about it, we are all salespeople. As a parent, you sell your child on the importance of eating a healthy meal or on the value of having a good education. As a coach, you sell your athletes on the significance of practice and fine tuning their skills. As a travel consultant, you plan and sell the perfect trip for your customers.

In order for any of us to be successful, we have to perfect our sales skills by investing in ourselves – through education and product knowledge, as well as through marketing. Take the time to learn more about the business you’re in. Know the products and/or services that you are selling. Practice the art of successfully marketing yourself. But most importantly, know your customers by asking questions and listening!

One of my favorite quotes is, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Think about it! Are you the type of person who asks a question, but you’re already thinking about the next thing you want to ask or say instead of truly listening to what your customer is telling you? Slow down and really take note of everything your client is telling you – listen with the intent to understand this person’s wants and needs.

I recently took part in training from Jeff Bloomfield, author of “Story-Based Selling” and former executive coach to senior executives of Fortune 500 companies. As Jeff states in his “Sales Fundamentals” online video, one of the pitfalls to successful sales is “to sell something that your customer does not want or need.” To have true success, we must understand our customers and their buying motivators, and then share our knowledge and experiences to gain credibility and trust.

Jeff shares the three stages of the sales process. It was a great review for me, and consequently, I wanted to share these processes with you as well:

Pre-sales:  This is where you do your planning and preparation. If you have business plan, review it and see if you need to update it. If you don’t have a business plan, this is the perfect time to start one by enhancing your training and education. For example, Nexion® offers several programs to assist with business development and education, including its Agents Connecting Together (ACT) mentorship program.

Customer Engagement:  Create the connection with your customers. Engage in marketing programs. Put together qualifying questions to find out more about them and what they value the most. Work on building trust and credibility. If you’re part of a travel agency host or consortia, take advantage of the marketing tools offered to stay connected with your customers. Nexion® members have access to marketing solutions that let you stay connected through social media, targeted emails and direct mail, so the right message is delivered to the right customer. Remember, it’s all about listening and selling something your customer wants or needs.

Post-sales:  This step is often forgotten by many travel professionals, and it’s too important to forget as it helps in building those life-long relationships with your customers. Show your service and support. Follow up with your customers with a phone call to see how their trip went. Use your marketing tools to send out greeting cards, and keep in touch with your customers with ongoing direct mail and email marketing. Again, your host or consortia should have an arsenal of resources that will make this step simple and easy to remember.

By reviewing these steps and fine tuning your skills through education, marketing, asking the right questions and LISTENING, you will position yourself for success.