How to Select the Best Product for Your Customer

Earlier this month, we discussed the need for elevated sales skills. We looked at the first step in the sales cycle: identifying customers. Today, we’re highlighting another step in the process: selecting the appropriate product to fill your clients’ needs.

This is a perfect week to reflect on all your sales skills because it is the last chance to take advantage of The Travel Institute’s 2022 Season of Giving opportunity, featuring 20% tuition assistance toward the CTA certification program.

The CTA’s Customer-Focused Selling module thoroughly explains the steps of the sales cycle. The following segment—Selecting a Product—is from that module.

Sales, in its broadest sense, is a combination of motivation, knowledge of the sales process, and knowledge of available products.

Those available products comprise your inventory from which you will match the product to your client based on the needs you have uncovered during the qualifying stage of the sales cycle.

Selecting a Product

After you’ve identified your client’s needs with thoughtful and thorough analysis, you can begin to think of products that will meet the requirements of your client. To do this, you need to know the products you sell and be particularly familiar with your preferred suppliers.

Product knowledge is a basic necessity for successful selling. Obviously, this is not the place to learn details about the wide array of travel products you sell. For that information, you can, of course, refer to websites, social media, and videos, but you should make extra efforts to improve your product knowledge. This may include consulting with supplier representatives, attending trade shows and supplier-sponsored events, going on familiarization (FAM) trips, and talking with your colleagues.The point is that you must take responsibility for learning about the products you sell. If you rely on your manager, owner, or supplier to make sure you know what you’re talking about, you are short-changing yourself and your clients.

Preferred suppliers, or travel providers that have negotiated extra commission rates with your agency based on attainment of sales objectives, can help you focus your quest for improved product knowledge. Because these companies have a vested interest in helping you sell their products, they are more likely to provide training and extra benefits you can pass on to your customers. When you sell preferred suppliers, you benefit by earning extra commission, and your clients benefit by your specialized knowledge and confidence about the products you’ve recommended. When possible, consider your preferred suppliers first as you try to determine products that suit your customers.

Of course, sometimes your preferred suppliers may not provide the best solution. You must use good judgment and your sincere desire to satisfy your client as a basis to determine which products are the best match.

Before you make a recommendation, however, you should make sure you understand what your clients need. The best way to do this is to check with them. Summarize what your customers tell you and ask for their confirmation to make sure you’re on the right track. You can say something like, “Okay, Mr. Jones, let me see if I understand you. You’re looking for … is that correct?” If Mr. Jones disagrees with something you said, you need to ask more questions to further identify his needs. But if he confirms your paraphrase, you can move on to the next step in the sales process. This confirmation or agreement paves the way to closing the sale.

But take note: Just because you are comfortable that you have fully qualified a client does not mean your job is done. During the course of a single sale, you may discover you occasionally need to take a step back and ask a few more questions. This often becomes evident after you recommend a product and find your client is not satisfied with your recommendation. Also, don’t assume you know the needs of your repeat customers. Always re-qualify, even if you are certain you know what they want.

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