A lot of what I’ve been writing about lately has been about attracting quality clients into your travel business. It’s the biggest challenge most travel advisors face.
Yet, it really is only part of the battle.
And while it’s true that if you attract clients through your marketing funnel and they have already gotten to know, like and trust you, the following steps tend to be easier. However, the battle is far from over.
It’s 3:00 PM on a Tuesday, and you have Margaret and Henry, sitting in their living room, live on a zoom call, sipping their tea, ready to begin their first consultation with you.
This part should be easy, peasy.
Except when it’s not. You get to the part where you introduce your service fees, and you notice Henry is no longer making eye contact. Margaret clears her throat, and after a painfully long 30 seconds, exhales and says…
“We are going to have to think about it. We’ll get back to you.” Which is a “NO” decorated to look like a decadent chocolate cake but isn’t quite as delicious.
First off, make sure that you’ve handled all their objections. I’ve addressed how to combat five of the most common in the following article, Overcoming the 5 Most Common Objections and How to Convert Them into Bookings.
But let’s say you’ve done all that, and Margaret and Henry still don’t seem to be in any rush to make a payment. How do you proceed?
Firstly, don’t make it mean anything that doesn’t serve you.
Hearing NOs is part of any sales job. If you don’t ever get any, it probably means you aren’t taking enough chances and getting enough consultations. Some travel advisors hate hearing the word so much that they barely step into the arena.
So what do you do?
Do a post-consultation evaluation.
The only real loss you might encounter in getting a no is if you don’t do a proper post-consultation evaluation and learn from the experience. You might not have gotten the booking, but the lessons you can learn from doing a proper review will serve you in consultations to come.
Post-consultation evaluations are much easier to dissect if you record the session. Of course, you’ll always want to get permission first, but I usually spin it this way…
If you don’t mind, I like to record these sessions for my review only. You’ll notice that throughout the 60-minute consultation, I will ask a lot of questions. And I mean A LOT. The answers I receive from you help me get to know you better and ensure that I have all the information to craft the best holiday for you. And while I will take some notes, I prefer to be present with the two of you as much as possible. Recording our sessions guarantees that I don’t miss anything.
Who would say no to that?
Once you have the recording to review, it’s much easier to see what you did, both right and wrong.
Let’s start with what you did right.
Our human brain is pre-programmed to look for the negative, so try and go against the predictable and search for all the things you are proud of and note them down. Note the times that either Margaret or Henry nodded in agreement.
If there were times, you felt connected, write them down. Review the body language in the video and look for signs. Were they relaxed, sitting forward or something else?
Looking for the positive first also helps you get centred and allows space to be more open when reviewing the rest. Nothing is ever truly a disaster.
Look for areas where there is room for growth.
Now it’s time to take a critical eye…a constructive critical eye at where you might have gone off course. Again, watching a replay will uncover areas you just couldn’t see when you were live, and in the moment.
A list of some questions you could ask yourself:
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how connected were you to the client?
- By watching their body language and re-listening to their words, were you able to see when you may have begun to lose them?
(Note: short, clipped responses and arms folded may mean that you weren’t able to convince them of your expertise and they didn’t believe you would be able to deliver the value you were offering. Lots of repeated questions, or long pauses, could mean that you just weren’t able to paint a clear enough picture or convince them why your offering was worth the cost.)
- Were you able to answer all the objections that were presented?
- Did it look like they believed you?
- Did you stumble on any words or feel uncomfortable?
- Did you skip over any critical information? (we are human, good listening takes practice)
- How did you end the call? Was a follow-up booked?
Make a list of improvements for your next consult.
It’s been said that great salespeople are not born; they’re taught.
Once you’ve had the chance to review the consult properly, you may be able to salvage it. Regardless, it’s important to remain detached from the outcome. The best way to properly evaluate is to remove your ego completely from the process. It’s just information.
Resist the urge to look for excuses to assuage your ego
You might be tempted to think:
- They weren’t ready to travel
- The price was too high
- The trip was too long
- The trip was too short
- They weren’t my ideal client
- They didn’t like the shirt I was wearing
- They were too scared to travel
The only reason anyone doesn’t book is that you didn’t effectively relate the value of the travel experience with regards to the price.
That’s it – no need to sugarcoat it. Nobody signs up for a travel consult who doesn’t plan on buying.
The good news is if you accept full responsibility for the loss of that booking, that also means you are fully in control of the next consult and every one that follows. That’s a pretty powerful position to be in.
Before you go into the next consultation…
Approach each consultation with a clear mind.
I’m sure you are familiar with your monkey brain. That part of your brain that sits on your shoulder and natters at you the whole time.
Do this. Do That. Don’t do this, Don’t do that. Why did you do it that way? Man, you are stupid. This client isn’t going to pay your booking fee. What makes you think they would? Dummy! Oh and don’t forget, you have to pick Susy up from school at three and the laundry from 2 weeks ago still needs to be folded. Where did that smudge mark on my ceiling come from? Pay attention, stupid.
Sound familiar? I’ve heard a good mediation session works like a thick slab of masking tape over the monkey’s trap, but I’ve never been able to master the craft. It may work for you.
I simply have a frank discussion with said monkey right before I begin a consult. I thank him for his opinion, but I ask that he go take a break, grab a coffee and a donut and come back later.
Remove all your judgements.
Well, as best you can. No matter what. We are humans, and judging is what we do by design. You’ll get better results if you approach each consultation with no pre-formed bias. When Margaret and Henry show up for the call, and Margaret’s jewellery is costume, don’t presume the size of their wallet.
The best chance you have at closing the consult with a client is to be fully present with zero expectations and no assumptions.
Be the clean slate.
Write down all the truths you know about yourself.
- You are great at what you do
- Margaret and Henry are lucky that you have their back
- You have been studying your whole career in preparation for this consultation – of course, you have it all figured out.
- You are amazing.
- Why *not* you?
- Margaret and Henry are getting a bargain for the service fees you charge.
Remind yourself that your role as a travel advisor is to help your client make decisions.
Helping clients decide on the travel they want to purchase is your primary superpower in the consultation process.
Against popular belief – it’s not to sell travel. Your role is to help your client choose the best travel experience for them based on your expert experience and knowledge.
And that’s why you charge booking fees.
To learn how to structure your fees and why you need to charge them, allow me to refer you to….Stand by Your Value as a Travel Advisor by Charging Fees.
Prepare an objection list with responses.
Every time you get an objection, you’ll want to add it to a list alongside the best response to address it. Practise your responses repeatedly until they roll off your tongue. The trust a client builds with you is positively correlated with your level of confidence.
I’ll close off with one of my all-time favourite and most powerful quotes. “In order to get anything in the physical world, you have to detach from the outcome and be in the process.”
Don’t allow disappointment to creep in over what appears to be a failed consult. It’s all part of the process and nothing has gone wrong.
Are you looking to make 2022 a game-changer of a year and need a coach to help you achieve your lofty goals? Turns out…I know someone. Book a consultation below.