Take a Hard Look at the Soft Skills That Boost Your Sales, Part One   

by Diane Petras, CTIE, President of The Travel Institute

This is Part One of a two-part series on the five soft skills travel professionals need to acquire or enhance in order to succeed.

Do you want to sell more, make more, and receive more referrals? I believe the obvious answer is yes. If you agree, the next step is to commit to learning more about your own behavior and work toward self-awareness and skills that will bring you success.

There are two types of skills that affect career success. First, job-specific skills, such as learning about a supplier’s product and online booking tools, are “hard” skills. The other type of skill, “soft” skills, are less tangible and involve things like listening, empathy, and communication. Soft skills represent the foundation for success in any profession, and they are critical to your success as an agent representing travel options to clients. Indeed, cultivating soft skills for career growth was also the topic of our June 11 Hot Tip by Guida Botelho, CTIE, Director of Education.

Improving soft skills helps you break through to a new level of success, build loyalty for your brand AND win more customers How do you rate on the following soft skills?

  • Great Communicator:  The importance of communicating well can’t be emphasized enough. But good communication doesn’t always come naturally. We develop this skill throughout our lives by observing, studying, and practicing. When you use clear and concise language, remain attentive and ask clarifying questions, you put your customer at ease and create an environment for open dialogue and trust. Conversely, if you use jargon or industry acronyms to impress, you are likely to confuse. Take time with your customers to describe and explain what you mean in common terms. Your clients will appreciate this, just as you appreciate the same from your doctor, lawyer, accountant, and other professionals. How do you rate as a communicator?
  • Active Listener:  Listening is often cited as a critical skill in the workplace. Communication breakdowns caused by poor listening are blamed for misunderstandings with clients and suppliers, reservation errors, delays in closing sales, and so forth. The best way to improve listening is through training, the same way we learn and develop other skills. Without significant instruction, most of us will not develop good listening skills. Unless you stop and listen, take notes and repeat back what you heard, you can’t truly understand your customer’s needs. And, if you are face-to-face, active listening also involves eye contact. You will be judged on this skill by your customers whether you realize it or not. If they don’t feel heard, they won’t say, and they won’t stay with you as their travel professional. How do you rate as a listener?

Being a great communicator and active listener are two of the five soft skills you need to succeed. Next week, we will cover the remaining three skills: employing an empathic style, taking an organized approach. and engaging in positive thinking.

If you feel you could improve on any of these soft skills, I have great news! Building soft skills is at the very core of our certification programs, designed to address the unique needs of the frontline sales agent (CTA®), the agency owner or manager (CTC®), and the business leader (CTIE®) and is available on-demand for you to start at any time! The Travel Institute’s certified graduates hone these soft skills, and independent research proves they earn more.

Do you want to sell more, make more, and receive more referrals? Invest in yourself during our Promote Your Professionalism event all this month—with 50% scholarships on certification—and break through to your next level of success.