Because it’s safe to say consumers are going to be looking a lot more closely at where they spend their money for a while. – and a lot of us are going to have to work much much harder for our sales.
It’s not that people aren’t going to be spending – but moreso, people’s purchases are going to be a lot more considered.
So, considering the world in which we’re now living, we’re all going to need to ‘step it up’ and start thinking about how we’re going to sell ‘painkillers’, rather than just ‘vitamins’.
And when we’re selling, we’re going to need to identify a customer’s deep desires and work out how we are specifically going to satiate them.
And that’s going to be a challenge for a lot of you that are so good at so many elements of your business…but kind of suck at sales.
So I got to thinking about what it was that enabled us to close sales so effectively when I owned MPT.You see, most of the experiences we offered were either customised experiences, or came with a premium price tag (often more than $1,000) and a lot of these sales needed to be closed on the phone.
So, If you’re a tour or activity operator that runs:
multi-day inbound, or outbound tours,
high-end experiences that come with a decent price tag (lets say $500 or more),
corporate events for local businesses (as I did),
or a lot of customised experiences (or plan to add them to your product range)…
…pay close attention – because you’ll get a lot out of this.If you need to close sales on the phone in your business, then I’ve outlined below a fairly simple, step by step approach you can use to give you and your sales team every chance of significantly boosting your conversion rate.
It’s a process that I used to use to close a lot of sales and keep our conversion rate for customised tours, corporate events and extended tours hovering around the 20%-25% mark, which was of course vital to our success.
Because we’ve all heard it: Sales are the lifeblood of your business
But I also reckon sales have a bad rep and rightly so because so many people go about sales in the completely wrong way and end up wasting time, draining resources, and damaging team morale when they can’t close.
But, good sales is like having a good marriage: Both you and the customer should get something positive out of it – and feel good about it.When I was running my tour business, I tried to approach sales like this.
Imagine you are already hugely wealthy and have everything you could ever need. Your business is outrageously successful… and this sale is irrelevant to your success. It means nothing to you – you don’t need the sale. You just want to help.
My goal was to end a sales call leaving that other person inspired and motivated about taking the next step. To booking a tour or an event with MPTSo, if you feel like you’re always leaving a lot of money on the table, and that you and your sales team aren’t closing enough enquiries (or wasting too much time on too many sales calls), take note of this process. It’s something anybody can follow…and it really works.
**But before I dive into the steps.. I reckon that if you’re serious about increasing your conversion, you really do need to be generating a big chunk of your sales through calls – and even one-to-one meetings if possible, rather than converting via email. Once you start getting people on the phone and selling effectively, you just watch what happens to your conversion rate and to the bottom line of your business.
A lot of people avoid selling on the phone because it makes them uncomfortable, they don’t do it well…and they see it as a waste of their time. I saw it as the opposite – a really effective way to spend 30 minutes to give myself the best possible chance of converting a piece of business worth 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 or even 20,000 dollars.**
But anyway, on to the steps!
1. Put a spotlight on your customers’ desires, frustrations or challenges
Your first step is to help your prospect appreciate what it is that they desire, so the beginning of every sales call needs to focus on them, their story and what brought them to you – or what brought them to be interested in your destination, or the style of experiences you offer — so you can find some common ground.
You have to understand their situation, and where they currently are on their decision making journey. Listen to them. Ask them about their life, past experiences, and sit back as they tell you their story. Takes notes and take it all in, and then flip their focus onto their current situation by asking,
How’ve your recent trips been? Tell me more…
So can you tell me a little about a recent company event you organised? Tell me more…
This simple kind of a question is a powerful one. It’s rare you’ll come across someone who is completely content with what they’ve done before
They’ll likely share some good experiences with you, but also focus on trip’s or experiences that might not have lived up to expectation
Take notes as they tell you about their past pains, problems and challenges. You don’t need to illuminate their recent frustrations or desires, because with that simple question they’ll do it on their own.
2. Visualize their vision.
Once you have an understanding of where they are — and they’ve reflected on their past trips, or events, flip the script and ask them to share their plans for their future. Ask them to describe their goals, vision for this trip/event/experience and what motivates them.
You want them to dive deep into what they want out of it and talk enthusiastically about their vision — as though they’re imagining this vision for the first time; literally picturing it and touching it.
Because identifying your customers desires is going to enable you to sell them a solution.
So once you get to this point, the next step is to relay what you’ve learned so far (because – please remember this – the most effective 2 elements of selling on the phone are: listening and caring)
“If I’m hearing you right, Mandy, your last trip/event was great in the sense that….but the single biggest frustration seemed to be…
Ideally this time round you want to…. (The vision)
“Is this right, Mandy? Does that sound like where you currently are?”
Good listening leads to good understanding, meaning your role isn’t to do most of the talking (or to sell much at all), but rather point out what they already know.
3. Highlight the space
By now your prospect has identified their desire, and they have enthusiastically visualized their vision for the trip or experience. It’s time to highlight the gap between where they are now and where they want to be after taking this trip or experience – or organising this event.
Important!! Give them a chance to describe this space.
Although you’re tempted to tell them what their solution is and how you can solve the problem or satiate the desire, instead ask them what they think needs to be different from past experiences:
What do you think needs to happen to get a better response from attendees at this event you’re organising?
What would be the most valuable element of this trip to you?Try to encourage them to get specific.
Finally, repeat all this back to them once again. Ask them if they agree. Ask if you’ve heard them right. Each time they say yes, it creates a small commitment that makes what comes next much easier.
4. Encourage a commitment.
Until now, your prospects have done most of the talking. Now’s your turn to talk
Based on everything they have told you so far (the pain, vision and space), show them the solution they need based on the methods you have used with past customers
But, my tip here: be careful not to make this all about you!!
Say something like, “Here’s how someone could help you plan everything you have said you want out of this experience”.
Once you’ve described this solution, ask them, “Have I got this right?” “If you could have it the way I’ve described it, would it be valuable to you?”
This provides an opportunity for them to make their own choice – and leads to another small, but greater commitment Up until now, at no point has this been about you or your company or how you can help them. It’s 100 percent focused on them.
Ask them: “If you don’t do this, what’s the alternative?”
This brings them back to their challenge/frustration/unsatiated desire and their current situation – which they have said they don’t want – and are looking for a solution
So lastly you need to ask whether they are ready to work with you and accept the solution you’ve offered.
This is when you get specific on your costs, terms and conditions etc etc and ask them to commit.
So, this is simply Just you providing them the value and help they need, so that both of you leave the call inspired and motivated to take the next step with each other.
As I say, it may seem like a long process – and it may not come naturally at first. However it very, very quickly gets easier, it’s very authentic and it’s very ‘unsalesy…
(and for a $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 , or even $20,000 sale…it’s definitely 30 minutes well spent)
Oh and if you’re wondering how you can apply this in your business even if you don’t run high-end, customised or multi-day tours – or if you don’t serve the corporate market (and have no plan to)…
…these same principles absolutely apply when you are selling your company and your tours or experiences to a hotel concierge, an Inbound Tour Operator, a Travel Agent, a Destination Management Company or any other type of distribution partner.
Hope this helps – please do me a favour, hit ‘reply’ and let me know if it does!