Six Tips for Successful Cruise Sales
by  and  rew Sheivachman

No matter the size of your business, the sales process is critical to qualifying new clients and ensuring they  book with you again.

Bob Becker, senior vice president of consumer research for Norwegian Cruise Line, advised attendees at the recent CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. National Conference to focus on the simplest facets of selling. The conference was held aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

Becker said his own sales training has been responsible for more than $10 billion in sales, across several categories, over the course of his career with Norwegian, Carnival Cruise Lines and Renaissance Cruise Lines.

“This is for all kinds of sales, not just cruises,” Becker pointed out.

Following are Becker’s sales tips—in his own words.

#1 Understand the sales process
“What is sales?,” Becker asked.

“[It’s] helping people buy what they need. Does anyone have a bedroom at home with no windows? Then why are you selling an inside guarantee to a family of five? What they need is a family suite. You should come to work with the goal to help.”

#2 Don’t confuse sales with customer service
“If all you did was customer service, you’d have a lot of friends but not a lot of business. Cruising is confusing; the lines make it difficult for consumers. Make it un-confusing for your guest.”

#3 Take control
“You are in charge. You need to take over right away; whether you call the guest or they call you, you have to be in control. Ask open-ended questions, so it is about what your guests want and not price.”

#4 There is no loyalty
“What happens in Wave Season is that you do so much volume you get sloppy and skip the whole courtship in the middle of the sales process. If you don’t call your guests every 60 business days, you will lose the booking.

“Stay in touch with your guest. Today it is so easy with Facebook and Instagram. There is no loyalty. Think of who your biggest competition is, and whether they are contacting your guest with notes or on the internet.”

#5 Be self-reflexive
“When you have a bad month, look back and look for what you’ve been missing. If you are an 8-hour-a-day employee, you need to make 100 calls a day. You will get 60 no responses and 40 opportunities.

“You need to know CRM, basically your database on steroids.  Queue up all the people who didn’t book last year. Communicate on Instagram and Facebook, with no sales messages.”

#6 Stay passionate
“Love the product, love the business you’re in and have product knowledge. Know the ports; you need to know what to do on the ship and off the ship. Then you are earning your money.

“Then in come the repeat bookings and the referrals. If you don’t know the product, how can you differentiate yourself? Also: Always be smiling. We’re selling cruises, not coffins.”

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Tip of the Day
The cruise lines are cozying back up to agents, paying higher commissions to win back their favor after agents began turning toward land-based products when cruises became a tough sell. For selling bigger-ticket trips to today's repeat cruisers, traditional agents are the cruise lines' best friends.
  
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