How Do You Qualify a Client?
You have just gained a new travel prospect and you are excited about the potential new business. Once you answer the call and move beyond getting a name, what comes next?
Many times when speaking with others in all types of sales, they don’t know how to properly qualify their potential client. Qualifying a new client can be the difference between success and failure. If you plan a trip for your client the first time and miss, chances are they will not return. Do a great job, not only will they return, but they will also send referrals.
After you establish yourself with introductions, set the expectations. Let the prospective client know you are going to ask several questions intended to best match them to their dream vacation. Create a list or a worksheet for each prospect. Hang onto the list for future reference as well.
Who is Traveling?
First ask who will be accompanying you on this vacation. What are the ages of those travelling? This lets you know if this is a family vacation, and adult vacation or friend’s group. Find out where they traveled before and where they stayed. Find out what they liked or disliked about their last vacation. If they have never traveled before, you will have a few more steps to take and more questions to ask. What is the purpose of this vacation? Do they want to relax, rekindle their relationship with a loved one, spend time with the family?
Next, ask when they want to travel and for how long. Then inquire about their budget. These two factors together let you know if there requests are reasonable. If they tell you they don’t have a budget, give them some parameters and begin with a higher level and going down by increments. For example, if they say 7 nights, start with $2,000 - $3,000 per person and work downwards. Despite what they may say, everyone has a budget!
You will learn a lot by asking questions. The client may want something that is not in your field of expertise and might not fit your niche. Also their budget might be insufficient for the type or length of vacation desired.
Have they chosen a destination? Find out why they choose that destination. It is critical to know why a destination or type of travel has been requested. This is where your professional experience will comes into play.
Don’t forget to find out about their activity requests. The level of activity needs to meet their expectations. Over stimulation on a high energy vacation may not be a good fit for an executive who just wants to relax with a good book and stare at the ocean. Conversely, the person behind a desk may need to use their energy hiking, biking or zipping down a canopy. If they are seniors, they make want some soft adventure like a catamaran ride. Don’t forget to include some activity into your travel package.
Shopping is a fun part of most vacations. Would you be more interested in good values on gold, diamonds, jewelry, and cameras/electronics or handmade items, leather goods, coral and silver?
If they are traveling outside of the US, ask if they have a passport. Remind them to check the expiration date. Anything less than six months from their date of travel may need to be renewed. Each country has their parameters and most cruises outside of US ports require six months or more. It is up to you to know the facts. And a best practice for international travel is to never take a client’s word on the passport information—do your best to secure a photocopy or at least to see it in person. Frank may really be Franklin and he may have an issue. Remember that everyone needs a passport, including the infants and children.
More Suggestions on How to Qualify Clients
If you were going to dine out locally to celebrate something really special (50th birthday, 25th anniversary, retirement, etc.) where would you go?
Don't dismiss someone out of hand because of the way he or she is dressed.
Avoid selling what you like rather than what the client prefers.
When you travel on vacation, what types of hotels do you prefer?
What types of evening entertainment do you like?
Do you want a vacation with visits to lots of places or to stay in one place?
Is the main purpose of your vacation to rest and relax (recharge your batteries) or to be out on a new adventure every day?
Once you take the time to know your clients, it will be easier to satisfy them and make your job easier.