When thinking about a sales rep, most of us conjure up images of a greasy-haired, leisure-suit-wearing, sleazy-looking fast talker. Obviously these guys do sell, or else the stereotype wouldn’t exist. Their sales tactics work sometimes, but do they work best? It’s important to consider whether your sales tactics are producing merely short-term revenue or long-term client relationship building and even larger revenue streams.
To start off, ask yourself how your reservationists come across on the phone.
If you run a small- to medium-sized company, you’ll likely have a diversified fleet, mixing corporate and leisure rentals. A sizeable portion of your income comes from actually selling your service over the phone. The people who call looking for a special event want to feel comfortable with spending $250 to $1,000 on an evening. This is where your reservationists can make or break your business. They represent your service, and are the first portrayal of what your company has to offer. Sure, anyone with a voice can answer the phones, but it takes training and talent to maximize sales potential, while at the same time using discretion to know which callers you need to spend more time with, and which ones are just looking for a quick price quote.
When a rate shopper calls, typically the first question is “How much is it?” You can either give him or her a price, or talk about your services instead.
- What works: Give the customer the price and hope that he or she will book. - What works better: Find out exactly the service needed, and then explain the level of service, the quality of the vehicle, and the competency of your chauffeurs. Invite the customer to come to your showroom and preview the vehicles you have to offer.
- What works: Telling the customer that he or she is asking about the last limo you have for rental at a special rate, which is only good the same day, and that the limo won’t be available for long. - What works better: Tell the customer the truth. Tell him or her the appropriate time in advance to make the reservation. If he or she called early enough, encourage the customer to go see a couple of limousine companies and then come see you. Often, your honesty is enough to get the customer to forgo bothering to look at other companies. Let the customer know that the best price isn’t always the best deal. If there really is a shortage of limousines on the given date tell the customer. Let the customer know you don’t want to put undue pressure on him or her, but he or she needs to make a decision soon.
- What works: Six-hour minimums for proms. - What works better: Four-hour minimums, with specific time-slot restrictions.
I tell potential prom customers they can have a four-hour minimum, finishing no later than 9:00 p.m., or starting no earlier than 10:00 p.m. If they want to book six hours or more, they can pick whatever time they want. You can get eight or more hours out of a car if you have both those time slots available. A 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., or a 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. rental is a “schedule killer.” Those times are unavailable to the four-hour rental customer; however, if you have a 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. rental, you can often pick up a 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. set of kids from a dinner location, take them to the prom and home, maximizing your schedule.
- What works: Matching any competitors’ price simply because the customer says that is what is being charged. - What works better: Explaining to the customer that your level of service and vehicle quality, along with the expertise of your chauffeurs, warrants the slight increase in price. Tell the customer to go see that company, and then come see your operation so he or she can make an informed decision as to which he or she feels more comfortable with.
Many customers want information — they want to be educated on how limousine service works. These are the people to spend time with. The last thing you should tell them is the price. Tell them about the service, ask them about their occasion, and show interest in their event. Sometimes it’s a good idea to relay an anecdote about a similar event to instill confidence in your ability to meet their needs.