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Education resource for the group travel supplier


It seems that the start of any new year or quarter brings the traditional flurry of demand generation/business development/sales reps sending e-mails on why I should buy their product/service. I’m always fascinated to learn why reps think I would be interested in purchasing their product and, at times, gauge how far off the mark they are. At the end of each e-mail, after the salesperson has detailed all of the boilerplate reasons why his or her product/service is awesome, many conclude with some variation of the following statement:

“If you are not the right person for me to be working with at your organization, please provide me with the contact information of the person who is.”

Dear Sales Rep: We are not best friends. Why would I give you that information? Why would I do all of your prospecting work for you? With all of the resources and tools at your fingertips, in this digital age, you can’t figure out on your own that I am, or I am NOT, the right person?

Selling is hard, tireless work. It’s distressing to see that something so easy and powerful to do is getting ignored. So, here is my public service announcement for all you salespeople trying to get my (or your target buyer’s) attention:

Do Your Research.
If you are trying to sell IT software, don’t reach out to the head of sales training. Or, learn about why the head of sales training would be interested in IT software, and approach your messaging from that angle. That’s what LinkedIn is for. Or Twitter. Or Google. Yes it takes time and effort, but the payoff is much better than getting ignored and ridiculed in a blog post.

Maybe you only have the head of sales training’s contact information. That’s OK! Using something like LinkedIn’s TeamLink feature, you can see how you and your connections are related to that person, or how that person is connected to your target buyer. People buy from people, and they pay attention when a colleague’s name is mentioned. Leverage that personalization to have your message resonate with the target buyer.

Don’t Sell. Teach.
I don’t care about your product. Telling me your product is wonderful won’t help me at this moment. Provoke me into thinking differently. Tell me a story about how my world will be a better place if I consider partnering with you. Teach me something that I don’t know, that your product immediately addresses. Make me go, “Hmmm, that’s interesting, tell me more!”

I guarantee that following these three simple rules will get me (or your target buyer) to respond to your e-mail. What have you done that uniquely got you noticed with a buyer?

Source: Article adapted from Melissa Madian, senior director, Field Enablement and Solutions Consulting at Eloqua. eNews photo: Stuart Miles

Customers lie, because they secretly hope that you'll sell them something. Customers are human, which means that they sometimes bend the truth. Here are the most common lies that customers tell and how to use them to your sales advantage:

Lie 1. "We're totally happy with our current vendor."

No matter how much a customer claims to "love" their current vendor, they're always willing to consider a better alternative. Your job is to make it clear why you're the better alternative.

Lie 2. "We don't have the budget."

Unless the customer is actually bankrupt, what this really means is "other projects have a higher priority." Your job is to explain why your offering is more important than what's already been budgeted for.

Lie 3. "I am the sole decision-maker."

This is usually wishful thinking. Even in "Mom and Pop" operations, "Mom" can veto decisions that "Pop" makes. In big companies, decisions are always by consensus. Your job is to discover (and sell to) all the stakeholders.

Lie 4. "Send me some information and I'll look it over."

This is how customers say "I'm busy, so get lost" without being rude. Your best bet here is to agree to send the information, but also ask something like: "Just out of curiosity, what are your priorities in this area?” Keep the conversation going.

Lie 5. "I'm sorry I missed our scheduled meeting."

Well, probably not all THAT sorry, because clearly something more important came up. Fortunately, social convention now puts the customer under an obligation to do something to make up for wasting your time.

Lie 6. "We'll consider all bids equally."

Sorry, but in every sales situation that goes out for bidding, there's somebody who's got the inside track (usually they wrote the RFP). Your job is to either be that somebody or earn the right to tweak the RFP.

Lie 7. "Your competition is much cheaper."

The customer is well aware that there's a perfectly good reason (like better service or more features) why your offering costs more. If not, then the problem lies in how you're presenting and positioning your offering.

Lie 8. "If you don't give us a huge discount, the deal is off."

These last-minute demands are how customers test to see that they've negotiated the best deal. If you fold and give the discount, they'll know you were about to cheat them. If you stand your ground, they'll sigh in relief and pull out the checkbook.

Written by: Geoffrey James writes the Sales Source column on, the world's most visited sales-oriented blog. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World's Top Sales Experts. @Sales_Source

Monday, 20 May 2013 10:08

Rule Number 1: Get to the Point

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If you've got something to say, say it in as few words as possible. This will be a short post, because if it weren't, I'd be guilty of doing what I'm telling you to avoid. All companies today are trying to do more with fewer people, which means that everybody is short on time. That's why it's crazy to load up your documents (e-mails, brochures, websites, etc.) with fancy-sounding business clichés and unsubstantiated opinions. Nobody has time to wade through biz-blab.

"In order to focus externally, we must focus both externally and internally (customer's customer and internal alignment necessary to respond), with internal collaboration with common focus/goals by stakeholders accountable for ultimate business results oriented, optimized, and coordinated outputs, aligned around the sales cycle and with a proactive approach to higher order competency investments and being unwilling to throw deliverables over the fence to sales teams and trust results will be achieved."

Yes. That is a real sentence from a real business document that somebody sent me. Translation: "We must measure whether or how much our sales training programs increase our revenue."

Get to the point. 

Nobody has time to wade through a string of your opinions.

"Our product is the most innovative in the market today, with the highest quality service and support. Our highly-trained technicians can meet your needs regardless of the size of your business. We can do what other suppliers can't because we are committed to excellence at every level of our delivery process. We are the best in our industry because our customers are satisfied and delighted with our superlative products."

And, yes, that's based on a real "sales message" I was recently sent. Translation: "In our opinion, we're wonderful."

Get to the point. Especially if you don't have all that much to say. That way, you're not wasting everyone else's precious time.

This is not a difficult rule to follow. It is neither brain surgery nor rocket science. If you've got something to say, say it in as few words as possible.

‘Nuff said.

Written by: Geoffrey James writes the Sales Source column on, the world's most visited sales-oriented blog. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World's Top Sales Experts. @Sales_Source

Monday, 29 April 2013 09:22

Partnering and Programs

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When it comes to going to tradeshows with other programs from around the country (and even some from your state), who is your competition? 

The goal of tradeshows is not only to sell your business or program to people who are looking to put their money somewhere, but to sell the region and state your business is located in. 

Partner, partner, partner, as much as you can when going to these tradeshows. Work together with other businesses (even if they’re your in-state competition) to sell your state first, and then sell your business. If you partner with other businesses within your state and make it a goal to sell your state first, that will set you apart from all other destinations.

The way you promote yourself is also how you could get your name and brand out there, before and after a tradeshow. Social media, of course, is a great medium to get your name out there and to continue the partnership by promoting events or services provided by other areas in your state. 

If you are a supplier or tour operator, figure out ways to help promote certain areas of the country or of the world. If you notice a certain demographic likes to travel to your destination, seek out the place they come from and help promote yourself through other tour operators. Travel Oregon did this in partnering with a tour operator in British Columbia, Canada, to market and promote the Oregon area. 

Travel Oregon noticed the uptick in visitors from the Chinese population in British Columbia to Oregon’s malls and shopping areas, due to the tax-free shopping the state offers. Because Travel Oregon and the tour operator partnered together in promoting a packaged deal they came up with, there was a 114 percent increase in visitors to Oregon, and a lot of additional income for the tour operator.

Going above and beyond with partnerships like this is what could make the difference in having your state and your business stand out against the nationwide and global competition, especially at tradeshows.

For more about partnering and packaging, check out the 2012 Supplier Summit podcast here.

Written by: Chelsea Stoskopf Source: Lisa Itel of Travel Oregon is responsible for growing the domestic trade and international leisure travel for the state. She has vast experience in the industry including leadership positions with NTA and the Oregon Tour and Travel Alliance.

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