At a time when corporations are once again embracing business travel, travel sellers need to take advantage of new tools to develop relationships with potential clients.
That’s the advice of sales expert Mike Marchev, who says you'll need more than a silver tongue to add new corporate accounts to your client list.
Marchev shared tips for landing new corporate accounts, culled from his decades of sales experience, with attendees at the recent TravelMarket 2012 in Scottsdale, Ariz..
Here are six of his suggestions for connecting with corporate decision makers and making the most of your leads.
#1. Dig up info on potential clients
Tools like Google Alerts make it easier than ever for agents to access a wealth of information as well as tips they can use to impress potential clients.
For instance, agents can set up a Google Alert for a potential client's industry so you have more to talk about during a conversation, Marchev said.
“If you're not interested in doing your homework, you're in the wrong place,” Marchev said. “Sales today takes time and research; there's work involved.”
#2. Set your goals high
It is vital to set high, but attainable, goals and reach out to numerous leads at a time. The average salesperson contacts a lead only a few times before giving up, according to Marchev.
“List 10 corporations or people in the business world you want to do business with. Once you have it as a target, go get it.”
Certain people simply won't be interested in your services, so pursuing multiple leads will prevent agents from becoming discouraged when a potential lead doesn't pan out.
#3. Find the people who want to talk to you
If a potential lead is uninterested in your offerings, move on to another.
“Most of the people you talk to don't want to talk to you, and if they don't want to talk to you, you don't want to talk to them,” Marchev said. “Our job in corporate sales is to find the people who want to talk to us. Then communication can take place and not be forced, so our job becomes pretty simple.”
#4. Provide helpful information
Focus on making life simpler for corporate decision makers and make your conversations about the needs of your potential client.
“Be politely persistent by bringing something [helpful] with you every time you appear,” said Marchev. He suggested sending articles to corporate travel managers with information on saving their company money or passing along industry-specific items of business intelligence.
All digital correspondence should be brief and to the point, since decision makers are surrounded by distractions, Marchev cautioned.
#5. Position yourself as a peer
Working to develop a relationship as a peer will help differentiate you and your services, Marchev said.
“They define you as a middle person, but you're not going to position yourself as one. You're going to pose as a real business entrepreneur peer who can help them run their business, not a booking agent.”
#6. Use established sales techniques
Agents should use the sales techniques that worked in the past, following the same template as before, instead of experimenting with new sales methods.
“Whatever you did to get one, go do it again,” Marchev said. “The snag you fall into is that something works and then you think you need a new flavor of the month.”