Ahhhhh, rejection. How is it that so many of us are terrified of two small letters that come together and deliver an almost irreparable punch? Two letters…seemingly innocuous, but what won’t we do to avoid them at all costs?
Of course, I’m speaking of the word “no.”
And when it comes to sales in the travel industry, behind every “no” is just a series of objections. The trick is to unravel them, confront them, and ultimately overcome them for the sole purpose of converting every “No” into a booking.
The good news for anyone working in the travel industry is that advisors don’t need to spend a lot of time selling the product’s benefits. Much of the heavy lifting is done for us.
I mean…who really needs to sell anyone on a weeklong escape to Thailand — eating mangos on a bed of sticky rice, having the toes tickled by the white caps of the surf rolling in…being lulled to sleep by the melodic evening calls of the scimitar babblers?
Is that really a hard sell?
Especially compared to the lives of the poor encyclopedia salesmen of the 1970s or those who sell life insurance or burial plots, for that matter.
Pppppffftttt….”travel”…Everybody wants to buy travel. I’ve always firmly believed and would often be overheard telling our sales teams… ”Every inquiry is a booking. If we don’t get it, it just means that somebody else did.” Every lead is ours to lose.
Let’s first look at the top 5 most common objections.
1) We haven’t decided yet, or we are just not ready to book.
“We haven’t decided yet,” is excellent news to hear because it means you still have them. Your client may be dangling off the edge of the hook rather precariously, but you can still salvage this booking. You have a bit more legwork that starts with asking a series of questions to tease out where you haven’t made a solid case yet.
The best way to respond to this objection is to straightforwardly ask…” What part of the quote is leaving you with questions?” They may not know offhand, so make it a multiple-choice selection. Is it the hotels? The length of the trip? The inclusions offered? Is it the price?
It’s essential to dig deep because if you take their first response and run with it, you may find yourself doing multiple revisions to the quote that just wastes everybody’s time. The more granular you can get with precisely what’s not right, the better your chances of creating an itinerary that will have them falling in love.
2. I haven’t had the chance to speak with my partner about it yet.
If it’s been less than 24 hours since you released the initial quote…it’s possible. Typically, though, this is a classic stalling technique that people use when they don’t want to tell you that they are unsure of your quote. This is essentially objection #1 in disguise.
Firstly, you’ll want to narrow the chances of hearing this objection by setting up a follow-up date
But if you didn’t do that, or you did, and this is still the response, then you’ll want to set up a time when you can circle back when both clients are available to talk.
And remember, because this is objection #1 veiled to look slightly different, you’ll want to have your barrage of questions ready for the follow-up appointment.
3. It’s more than we were planning on spending.
Falling outside of someone’s budget is a fair objection and one that you can easily tackle.
Assuming you didn’t already qualify their budget in the initial consultation, you’ll want to ask, “How much did you think a vacation like this will cost? What would you feel more comfortable with for your holiday budget?” You can easily offer suggestions on tweaking the itinerary to bring the cost back in line with their expectations.
Sometimes clients have no idea where to begin making alterations but suggesting a “day at leisure” can bring the overall cost to an acceptable amount.
And if you’ve asked enough qualifying questions at the first consultation, you should have a good idea of which elements of the quote they might be less attached to. The hotel’s comfort level is not that important for many people, so that’s another potential area to amend.
4. We can’t afford it.
This one is interesting. It is a rare circumstance indeed that a client really can’t afford the cost of the holiday. Only 9.2% of the world’s population lives in true poverty. For the rest of us, we all attach values to the things we deem worthy.
If your car broke down and it was the only way for you to get to work, you can bet you’d find a way to pay the mechanic. And some people wouldn’t bat an eyelash paying 4K for a 4K big screen TV. And yet, to others, that luxury holds little or no value.
So this objection simply means that you haven’t adequately demonstrated the value of the holiday and how it is worth the cost to them. It’s a matter of perception. Sometimes it’s just a matter of detailing the inclusions. I once had a couple who was struggling with the price of a group tour to China. But once I broke down the costs into a per diem rate and detailed everything they were getting for the price, they said, “We never thought about it that way.”
5. We decided not to go.
(or my husband couldn’t get the time off work, or we are going to wait until a better deal comes along, Or we can’t agree on a holiday that works for both of us, so we’ve put the whole thing on hold, or we can’t find a pet sitter for our gerbils.)
These are all code for “we are not booking with you.” You are about to lose them to a competitor if you haven’t already. To reiterate…they are going. They don’t have the heart to tell you the truth. It’s up to you to see if you can save it.
Clearly, at this stage…saying, “bullshit” and inferring they are liars is probably not the best strategy to win them back.
But I might counter with…” Your business is really important to me. I understand that <insert excuse du jour>, but if that wasn’t the case, how did you feel about the quote I provided? I hope that you’ll allow me to book your tour when you are ready to travel. Is there something I can do to change your mind?
Then I would ask the same questions as listed under objection one. By this point, I will have taken responsibility for losing the sale, so I’ll want to know what I could have done differently in the future.
And if they did legitimately change their minds and are not leaving the continent, you’ll be able to hear the sincerity in their voice.
What happens if your client goes dark and won’t return your calls or emails?
Interestingly, if your client ghosts you, you may have a better chance of getting them back than if they told you they decided not to go. Sometimes, the silent treatment is a symptom of them reviewing other options, and they haven’t made a final decision yet, so they are stalling. You still have a chance.
In this situation, I’d reach out one more time and say something along the lines of…” I haven’t heard from you. I’m going to assume you’ve made other plans. I trust that you’ll have a fantastic time in <insert destination>. While I wasn’t able to get your business this time, I thoroughly enjoyed working with you. Please feel free to reach out should you have any further questions about your trip. I’m still happy to help.”
You definitely don’t want to come across as either defensive or desperate. And this allows you to continue the relationship with the client. It could even bring them back to you.
And if you are thinking…but I don’t want to help out a client who hasn’t booked with me…meh..I’d say that’s being short-sighted. I’m again reminded of my all-time favourite Zig Ziglar quote.
*Notice that I have not included the all too familiar objection, “We found a better price on the internet; can you match it?” because that objection gets a whole post to its own. You can read it <HERE>.
4 Key steps to convert an objection to a booking
Regardless of the objection, the key to taking that piece of information and converting it into a booking is to follow these four steps.
Ask a lot of questions and then sit back and listen. Listen for both what they say and also to what they don’t say. You’ll want to jump in and respond immediately, but resist the urge. Listen first.
2. Use Empathy
Whatever the objection is, know that it’s not personal. Empathy is one of the most critical skills in sales. Understanding a client’s point of view, seeing their concerns from their perspective and especially emphasizing that their concerns are valid will help you resolve any issues they might have.
Confirming is such a critical step and often gets forgotten. Before you launch into “Ms. Fix-it mode,” you’ll want to be sure that you understood correctly. Then ask…If I am able to address your concerns, will you be happy to move forward to a booking? This is the linchpin of the process. Failing to do this can cost you a lot of time trying to fix issues that never really contributed to the potential lost sale in the first place.
4. Respond and Reposition
And finally…it’s time to get to work. Address each issue individually. Don’t skip over even the most minor concern, and once you are done, you pretty much have yourself a booking.
I’d love to hear your feedback. Did I miss any objections? Put them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to address them as well.