Take a Hard Look at the Soft Skills that Boost Your Sales, Part Two
by Diane Petras, CTIE, President of The Travel Institute
This is Part Two of a two-part series about the five soft skills travel professionals need to acquire or enhance in order to succeed.
Last week, we discussed the two types of skills that affect career success: (1) “hard skills” or job-specific skills, such as learning about online booking tools; and (2) “soft” skills, which are less tangible and involve things like listening, empathy, and communication. Soft skills are critical to your success as an agent representing travel options to clients.
Part One of this series addressed two of these soft skills: being a great communicator and an active listener. Three other soft skills can help you build loyalty for your brand AND win more customers. Consider how you rate on these three skills:
- Empathic Style: The more you listen, the more you can empathize—or relate with and understand—the likes, dislikes, concerns, and needs of your customers. Many psychologists have strived to understand why people act in certain ways, choose certain products over others and, ultimately, make buying decisions. The underlying premise is that satisfying certain needs is what motivates a purchasing decision, whether the product is travel or an automobile. Knowing your customer’s needs is critical to selecting the appropriate destination, mode of travel, and supplier product. Do you find it easy or difficult to understand customer behavior and buying decisions? How do you rate for the ability to empathize?
- Organized Approach: We all share at least one thing in common: 168 hours in a week! And, if you are selling travel, you know first-hand all you need to accomplish in that period of time. Making decisions based on your ROT, Return on Time, is a necessary skill. Being organized, you maximize your ROT. Some people have a variety of “if only” statements to explain why they don’t have enough time to do the things they want or need to do. If only I could say no! If only I weren’t so busy! If only I were younger! If only I were older! Do any of these sound familiar? No matter how valid these “if only” statements may be, you will control your time only when you accept responsibility for doing so. Find AND use an organizational tool that works for you. Or, try a simple checklist—our brains love checklists! And who doesn’t love crossing things off their list? Regardless of your intentions, the biggest barrier to achieving success might actually be you! How do you rate in organizational and time management skills?
- Positive Thinker: Oh, the power! Positive thinkers are high achievers. Positive thinking is essential personally and professionally because it helps overcome adversity, angry customers, and everyday stress. And when your customers are stressed, they may need to understand the benefits of a well-organized vacation for their overall health and morale. Remember this whenever you are talking to your customers, no matter what kind of day either of you has had. How do you rate as a positive thinker?
For the past two weeks, we’ve introduced you to the soft skills you need to be successful. For the rest of the month, we’ll give you specific, practical tips in all five of these areas, so you can start practicing them today.
And if you are looking for more comprehensive learning for improving any of the five soft skills, you’ve come to the right place! Building soft skills is at the very core of The Travel Institute’s 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 available on-demand for you to start at any time! The Travel Institute certified graduates hone these soft skills, and independent research proves they earn more.