By Peter Marsh
Every enquiry is important but they all fall into one of two types, be they walk-ins, telephone callers or e-mailers:-
Lookers; possible customers, shopping around maybe but also they could be wasting your time.
Bookers; who definitely want something – you just have to find out what.
Each are potentially valuable, but what are the extra ideas that could convince them to book with you?.
These clients really do present some problems:
• Window shopping – they are checking out all options, probably you won’t get the booking straight off.
• Especially when you can't immediately offer a discount or incentives to make the deal un-missable.
• You are not switched on that maybe this one is going nowhere and the other person who has just walked out of the door/hung up was the real thing. Shorten these conversations that are going nowhere by “qualifying” the client .
• Email enquiries (be aware that they are probably not just sent to you but also a number of other agencies/operators!) that are very general, not specific or have myriad departure dates/destinations. Reply by stating that you have got a great deal for them and please could they phone/call in. Do not produce detailed quotations until you are sure they are serious.
Easier to deal with, even so don’t let them slip through your fingers
• Emphasise that we know that their holiday is the highlight of the year. Show empathy. Get on their side, see things from their point of view. Develop their trust in you.
• Where the original holiday is not available and the alternative costs more - break down the increased price over the duration. Only an extra £10 per day. Break prices and costs down to most simplistic terms.
• Stay positive. Tell them what we can do not what we can not. No sea view but we can offer a room with a fantastic country/garden/mountain view.
• Sometimes we are not flexible enough, never assume that we know what they want. Especially when you are offering them an alternative to either a holiday they have chosen or their holiday expectations.
• Not identifying what is important to clients - OAPs on two centre holidays - baggage carrying may be a concern.
• Lack of information on our part which leads to a lack of confidence – and it shows!.
With either type of client the acid test is to try to obtain a level of commitment .
You can qualify the client: “if I can get the right holiday for you is it something you want to book today”. “Are you thinking of booking today?”. If the answer is yes then go for a booking. If it is no then keep an eye on the clock and the queue.
You can also test close the client by asking questions. “how does that holiday sound?” Is this the type of resort you are looking for?” “Does that accommodation fit the bill?”. If the answer is positive or yes then go for a close.
Of all parts of the sales process "closing the sale" is perhaps the most talked about. It is often said that it is the most important part of the sale, but in reality if you can demonstrate that you understand the customers need then you can be a poor closer but still obtain business.
The converse, however, does not necessarily apply. When you try to close the sale - obtain agreement - on undefined and unidentified needs then you will often hit a barrage of objections - or get the token yes.
During the booking conversation try to obtain agreement to each item discussed. (Lots of little closes are better than one big one). “ So it is important to have a sea view?” You only want to fly from Gatwick is that right?”
When you have done a good job of understanding the customers needs, and the customer recognises those needs, then you have a right to propose commitment to the next stage. The customer will be expecting you to.
It is your responsibility to move the sales process further forward. Successful steps are:
1 Giving attention to investigating needs
-main effort goes into building the need during this stage
-listen and double-check
2 Checking that key requirements are covered
-varying needs give rise to many concerns for the client
- ask questions about requirements
3 Summarising key points (especially customer benefits)
-pulling threads together by summarising positive points
4 Proposing a commitment
-suggest the next step, such as checking availability, holding an option, asking for the booking
Being sensitive to your client rather than treating then all the same will ensure that you will turn more lookers into bookers.
For more information about this, or any other aspect of training, contact Peter Marsh telephone 01304 368996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org