I had about an hour in the Charlotte, NC airport and sat down with my Starbucks non-fat, venti Chai, in the first row of chairs, closest to the three folks “inviting” travelers to sign up for a USAir credit card. The only flights coming in and out of this specific terminal were USAir flights. And that was why I was so fascinated by the credit card sales folks. The first question they posed to the people they were hopeful would stop was this: Excuse Miss, Sir, Are you traveling on USAir today?
Of course Miss and Sir were. If not, they would not have been in that terminal!
Once they had their prospect’s attention, they quickly launched into a benefit sell:
Excuse me, Miss, are you traveling on USAir today? Would you like enjoy a free flight? Would you like a free companion ticket? Excuse me, would you be interested in earning free miles from USAir?
Oh, and they selected their prospects carefully, avoiding those travelers who seemed to be frequent flyers. Instead, they’d call out to the leisure traveler, the one who looked a bit confused, or was walking particularly slowly through the concourse.
One guy, in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, stopped, and she said to him, “Where you going today?” followed quickly by, “Oh, I thought you were a a pilot!” OMG! (He signed the forms!)
It was all pretty disgusting but here are my take aways for you:
1. Be careful not to be suckered into a purchase because someone falsely compliments you. Calling me Miss when I’m clearly a Ma’am (particularly in the south) is wonderfully flattering (like, oh, I thought you were a pilot). But when it smells too good to be true…
2. Sell to yes. Check the questions you ask your customers and clients. Do they tend to be positive? Can you reframe them to put your buyers in a more positive frame of mind? People who say yes tend to keep saying yes.
3. Sell benefits. They didn’t bark about the features of the card, just the travel benefits.
4. Sell to qualified buyers. The form took about 10 minutes to complete. That is why they asked their prospects where they were flying; they’d check the flight schedule (which they had printed out at their make shift desk) and send them on their way if their flight was boarding. The sales people didn’t waste their time with folks who wouldn’t have time to complete the paperwork. They qualified their prospects and sold only to those who could actually buy. This is particularly important when cold calling (which is essentially what they were doing). Cold calling is made more difficult because lists are often filled with unqualified buyers. Be loving and respectful, but don’t waste your valuable selling time with people who have no need or desire for what you have to offer.
5. Be prepared. Have everything your customer may need at hand, on your website, in your email, to help them buy.
6. Don’t be a creep.
Comments please? Have you been taken by someone who didn’t have your best interests at heart? Tell us the positive lessons learned.