What I’ve Learned About Sales from Traveling the World: Five Tips to Boost Your Business

Just because I’ve technically been out of the sales industry for a while doesn’t mean I’m not still consistently in a sales environment of some sort. One could argue that we almost always have our sales hats on, whether we’re trying to convince a loved one to quit a bad habit or calculating the costs versus benefits of a new Ninja blender, or even talking our kids into going night-night. We do ‘salesy’ things all the time. The great thing is that if you are in the sales industry, you can constantly pick up new and better ways to do your job, practice what you’ve learned, and reinforce your skills, just by being a good observer of your daily surroundings.

 

I’ve been doing a lot of observing, myself, as I’ve been traveling to various countries the past couple of years. Here are a few reminders about what will help you in your day-to-day sales roles; 5 tips I’ve picked up from dealing with salespeople in various forms as a traveler. You may have heard these before, and some of this may seem obvious, but it’s often the most obvious and simple fixes that can garner the best results. Why not give one (or all of them) a try? 

 

1. People love to buy a cause or purpose

 

“My family owns a shop nearby, and we are struggling because of the off-season. My kids need to go to school soon and we need money.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I heard something like this during my travels in Southeast Asia. And man, they got me every time – hook, line, and sinker. I’m sure that bit has worked for them MANY times before. I have no problem saying no to pushy vendors, but when you bring the family sob story into the picture, I’m like butter in a hot pan. I bought from them because I felt like I was buying into something beyond a little trinket or cheesy souvenir. I would be helping to support a family. (And, I’m a sucker.)

 

I’m not saying that you have to have a pitiful tale of your own in order to woo travelers. But ask yourself, what is your cause? Many of you want to be successful so that you can support your own families. So, share your families with your travelers to the level of your comfort. Get them involved in the day-to-day stuff so that they feel connected to you in that way. Do you donate a portion of your salary to charity? Share that charity with your travelers so that they understand why it’s important to you to be successful. You already know that healthcare professionals love to help, so include them in your causes.

 

2. Anticipate needs to “sell” even more

 

Taxi drivers in touristy areas were masters of upselling. I’d hail one at the airport when I first arrived, and on the way to my accommodation, they would ask if I needed a taxi to certain tourist attractions, or even on the way back to the airport at the end of my stay. And, they would always know “someone” who did tours or owned restaurants in the area I’d be staying in.

The thing is, more often than not, I did need a ride to a few other places, so I could negotiate a package deal to take care of my transportation for my entire stay as I needed it. It worked out great for me, and the driver certainly benefitted from it, and all he had to do was ask.

 

So, how can this work in recruiting?

I’m sure you can think of a few things your traveler might need as part of their assignment. Housing web sites, a calendar of events for where they’ll be working, a map of a dog park where they can bring their furry friend during their off-time, etc. Think about what might come in handy for them, and send it to them proactively, without them even asking. You’ll sell yourself as an expert and as a partner through their traveling process. As a result, they will continue to “buy” from you in the form of extensions and new contracts.

 

3. Know your competition (and your value!)

 

As a way to negotiate prices, I would often shop around different vendors in touristy areas, because there were often several companies offering nearly the same thing. (Sound familiar?) If there was a vendor that I preferred to go with (usually because of higher ratings) but had a higher price for a tour, I would say that I would have to decline because XYZ vendor was offering a lower price. And, sometimes, I would go with XYZ vendor if the options were otherwise pretty comparable. But, if my preferred vendor told me, “Well, XYZ vendor doesn’t do this or this, and we offer this and this,” then chances were high that I would purchase from the preferred vendor because I felt that the value I would be receiving would be higher despite the difference in price.

You can easily apply this to recruiting. What do you offer of importance to your traveler that other competitors may not offer, that would be worth any difference in price? 

 

4. Be likeable

 

“Duh,” you might be thinking. And while it may seem obvious, you may be surprised at how often I’ve encountered sellers who always seemed like they would rather be doing something else. And, perhaps that was true, but your customers should never feel like an inconvenience. I’ve walked away from vendors so fast it would make your head spin because of their attitude.

You should consistently be checking yourself to see how you might be coming across to your customers. Do you sound bored, disinterested, distracted, or tired on the phone? If a candidate declines a submittal, are you acting offended by or frustrated with their decision? One quote that stands out to me is, “People may not remember what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” We all have emotions but try to be selective on how and when you choose to express them. Be the type of person you would want to buy from.

 

5. Ask for reviews and referrals

 

TripAdvisor is king in Southeast Asia. Virtually every shop and restaurant in Southeast Asia proudly displays their TripAdvisor ratings on their doors or inside their lobbies. I would often hire tour guides to take me around various cities to show me the sights and hidden treasures, and 99% of the time, they would ask me to rate them on TripAdvisor. Some of them even had a tablet ready for me and wouldn’t leave until I had given them a rating!

I think the latter is a bit excessive, but it brings up an important point. If your customers are satisfied with the service you’re providing, there shouldn’t be any reason why they wouldn’t give you a good evaluation or share your business cards with their friends. You can even set this as an expectation up front and mention your cause from point #1 to motivate them. “Susan, as you know, it’s important for me to support my family/ABC Charity/insert your cause here. I rely on reviews from my travelers like you to help me in this cause. Will you have five minutes this week to go on abcdefg.com to give me an evaluation?”

 

So, there you have it; sales lessons learned from adventures abroad. Pretty simple, right? All five of these can be easily implemented and put into effect immediately. Isn’t it interesting how these sales concepts transcend boundaries of industry and geography? 

Please share your thoughts, comments, and especially any success stories after you’ve applied any of these tips to your own daily grinds. I’d love to get your feedback.

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