Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

Jamie Biesiada is on leave. This insight originally appeared in the Home-based Agent eNewsletter June 12, 2017.

When someone asks you what you do for a living, how do you respond? Travel agent? Dream-maker? Travel professional? Travel consultant? Travel concierge? Vacation planner?

Those are all responses that Tammie Richie, director of Avoya's Mastermind business development program, hears regularly when speaking with agents. But the descriptions all lack a fundamentally important part of an agent's job, one that Richie says agents need to own: They are salespeople.

"You are in retail sales," Richie told attendees at Avoya's 2017 conference last month. "Your client is an internet lead -- sometimes a dreamer, sometimes a shopper -- but more importantly, you are in the world of travel sales.

"You sell travel. OK? You sell dreams, you sell everything, but bottom line, you sell travel."

Clients go to agents for their expertise on travel, but sometimes they turn around and book elsewhere. The agent can fix that by positioning themselves first as salespeople -- i.e. the person from whom the client should buy. To do so, Richie posited that agents first need to undergo PSR, or "positive sales retraining," to reinforce their "sales DNA," their natural ability and desire to sell, that can be negatively affected by societal perceptions of salespeople.

"When somebody says, 'What do you do,' what if you said something like, 'I sell the most incredible vacations ever imagined,'" Richie said. "And what if there is a really uncomfortable pause, you could easily come back and say, 'When did you take your last one,' or 'When was your last incredible vacation?' What if you said something like, 'I sell stress-free fun?'"

In both of those examples, the second word is the key: Sell.

Richie offered examples of ways agents could start to reformat their beliefs about sales.

For example, instead of thinking about salespeople as pushy, a common trope, she encouraged agents to think about it a different way. Calling themelves "sales masters" instead of salespeople, Richie said, they should believe they are acting directly and without apology when they believe they can help someone.

"If I truly believe that i have the product that's going to fit your needs, why would I feel like I am being pushy to follow up because you have asked me for my help?" she said.

Richie offered several other examples to help agents reframe their sales DNA to become better salespeople.

For instance, while one stereotype is that salespeople are slick, the new belief should be: "Sales masters are so smooth, so eloquent and so passionate about what they do for a living that their customers ask for them by name."

Or while an old belief may be that salespeople are relentless, especially when a commission is on the table, the new belief should be, "Sales masters are persistent with active prospects because they truly believe in their product or service. Also, sales masters certainly aren't persistent with people who they can tell aren't actually inclined to buy from them; it would be a waste of time."

The difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson is the way they think, and Richie urged agents to model the mental approach and sales DNA of a great salesperson to grow their business.

"It's not what you do, it's not what you say, it's not the car you drive or the suit you wear or your external behavior," she said. "It's your desire, natural ability and attitude."

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