THE HIGHLIGHTS: If you only remember 4 things after reading this…or read no further 🙂
1. Know your “WHY?” – your purpose, the unique “contribution and impact you want to make in the industry and to the world.”
2. Be Selective – Find the right kind of trade “buyers” for your business (tour operators, travel agents, travel designers, and online platforms) to market to.
3. Listen, Learn & Act – Just “winning” a client is only the beginning of the journey – it’s about ongoing relationships and continual improvement.
4. Make it easy to sell you – Your marketing and sales activities are a perfect opportunity to listen to your market and find out what problems they need you to fix and how you can both innovate and be continually improving
5. Build the relationship – Make it Win-Win
6. Data is Queen – To really improve your sales and marketing you need to ensure that you are collecting, analyzing and utilizing your sales and marketing in the best possible way – both quantitative and qualitative.
Also to remind you before we start of the Becky Harris world of terminology… for the B2B travel industry world, I use Marketing to mean finding new clients and Sales to mean developing more sales and profits from existing client contacts.
Travel is a HUGE industry – now the largest industry in the world and encompasses all manner of different segmentations and niches. Not all of them will fit what you are offering and it would be a waste of time and money trying to attract them. Once you have a strong sense of who you are, what your purpose is and why you are different, you then need to set about finding the right type of clients who are most likely to want what you offer.
You can waste hours of time and a lot of money using what we call the “scattergun” effect whereby you blast out communications to all and sundry, attend expensive travel shows that may not cover the area that you specialize in or meet with anyone at those events and organize time-consuming roadshows visiting offices of companies just because they agreed to see you.
As well as wasting time and money with these activities the worst aspect of all is that you then often end up winning the wrong types of clients – yes, there is a wrong type. You subsequently waste even more time, energy and money trying to make these “wrong clients” happy on things like price and product, where you never will as you just don’t offer what they want. You also waste time and money doing quote after quote that never sells as you just can’t give them – and their customers – what they need.
“I think we should break up… It’s not you…It’s me”
At SquirrelFish we suggest ensuring that creating “buyer personas” based on your WHY and knowing your target markets intimately is the foundation of your sales and marketing strategy. Take time to think about what type of company and people are most likely to be a fit for what you are all about and what you offer.
Then set out a few basic criteria to help your sales and marketing teams – they don’t have to be set in stone, but they can help to provide guidance. Target the right buyers and be strong enough to say “No” to the wrong type of buyers. I remember how empowering and freeing it was the first time a said to a tour operator, “I don’t think we are the right kind of company for you.” and how much time, stress and money it saved us not having to work for them anymore.
Timing is Everything.
Also, remember that based on what your company offers certain buyers might, in theory, be perfect but for some reason, the timing might not be quite right. Think about the different stages of product development that typically happen for an outbound Tour operators or Travel Designer and how that fits with how you market to them based on where they are in that process.
1. “Wrong Clients” – they don’t and won’t ever want to do business with you or you with them.
2. “Right but as yet Unconvinced” – they don’t realise yet that you are actually perfect for them 🙂
3. “Right but not ready” – they know you are right for them but just are not ready to start selling you / your destination for differing business reasons
4. “Perfect Match!” – Right time, right place – those perfect matches at the perfect time!
It is important to keep in touch with all of the “right type” of companies but alter your marketing strategy and communications based on what stage they might be at. Think about the differences in how often they will want to be contacted, in what ways and what they might want or not want to hear about – build that into your marketing strategy. That is where Marketing Automation can often come in very handy.
At SquirrelFish we like apply this principle to our sales strategy work as well. Where we see “Right Marketing” as targeting the right type of Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Travel Designers and Online Portals for new business, we see “Right Sales” as developing activities that make you as effective as possible in developing more sales and increasing profitability through more efficient and effective operations with your existing “right clients”…. and getting rid of any “wrong clients” that you may still be in contact with.
CONCENTRATE ON STRATEGICALLY KEY CLIENTS – NOT JUST YOUR BEST SELLERS – WHERE CAN YOU MAKE MOST IMPROVEMENT & IMPACT?
At SquirrelFish we have a whole area of work that we can offer clients on what we call our Client Development Plans aimed at improving sales, conversion and profitability with your clients in a strategic way.
We believe that for developing sales effectively it is key to concentrate on:
– the clients that really need, and can benefit from, your attention – not just the best sellers
– only concentrate on a few at a time – so that you don’t spread your resources too thin
– get tough on getting rid of clients that are just wrong for your business.
We find that the learning gained from working with just a few clients then creates lasting changes within your organization that benefit the whole sales process and thus has a positive, sustainable impact on all your clients.
Read the next article in the series – 3. Listen, Learn & Act
Contact us to find out how Squirrelfish, Travel Kinship and our sister company Round can help you grow your sales and develop your marketing, profitability, product development, and business reputation.
This article can also be found on Becky Harris’s LinkedIn profile HERE.
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