As business picks back up, it’s important to make sure your sales team is taking the right steps to maximize profitable sales.
“These simple steps are proven to work,” said Roxana Melgar, of BusRates, who presented at the Oct. 29 UMA Town Hall on “Building Profitable Sales: Five Keys to Success.” She – along with former UMA CEO Larry Killingsworth – focused on the fundamentals every bus and motorcoach company should be paying attention to.
1. Speed of response. Consumers, especially when using online platforms, expect to hear back quickly.
“When we talk about the speed of response, we’re not necessarily saying reply back the next minute with a price,” Melgar said. “What this means is that we will want to show the consumer that we are interested in doing business with them, and that their trip is important to us just like it is important to them,” Melgar said.
Studies in and outside the industry correlate the speed of response to success in landing the business, Killingsworth said.
“Look at what are the impediments in your company to responding within the first hour so the customers know that you have received their information and you’re on it,” he said. “If you’re not doing that in the first hour, then you are really missing a big opportunity.”
2. Seek to understand. Reach out to potential clients to learn more about what they want.
“Respond in a way that is meaningful and not just with an automated response saying we’ll get back to you soon,” Melgar said. “Our responses need to seek to understand what the consumer’s needs are. This is an opportunity to create engagement between the provider and the consumer.”
The BusRates form allows people searching for motorcoach transportation to add additional information, but the process still requires someone talking to them to understand what they’re looking for.
“Whether it’s a call or it’s an email, there is a need to get more information from them before you offer a price,” Melgar said.
3. Delivering accurate and clear proposals. This is an opportunity to be creative and to showcase your fleet and team.
The proposal is a good place to educate these potential customers about the quality of the operator’s fleet.
“Most consumers don’t know the difference between 2021, 2016 and 2011 coaches, but they’re looking for a clean, comfortable, safe motorcoach experience and a friendly driver,” Killingsworth said.
When creating the proposal, Killingsworth advises UMA operators to avoid industry lingo that can confuse potential clients. While the proposal should be comprehensive, too much information can be overwhelming.
“If you’ve got a long and complex proposal, do a distillation and put a synopsis on page one and then provide the details as an attachment,” he said. “Think about what you would like to receive in terms of a proposal, and make sure the one that is coming from your company responds to that in a clear and simple way.”
4. Follow up … follow up. The sale happens at the follow-up.
“The consumer is not going to necessarily make the decision right at the time when they get the proposal,” Melgar said. “They might need some revisions. Larger proposals, in particular, are going to take several different discussions to get them clarified. This all happens at the follow-up. This is an opportunity to show engagement but also to close the lead.”
Killingsworth suggests looking at follow-up from the mindset of customer service rather than bothering a potential client.
“It’s, ‘I want to make sure we get this right for you,’ he said. “You may have asked them, ‘When should I follow up with you since you’ve got more to find out?’ and get them to tell you, ‘Well, I should know by next Tuesday.’ ‘Great, we’ll call you next Tuesday.’ So you’re getting permission to follow up with them and then continue to follow up with them in the spirit of service.
“You’re not doing it to sell a trip, you’re doing it to help them with their transportation. That attitude needs to radiate from all of their touches with your company.”
5. Stay connected. Whether you get the contract or not, put them in your database.
“This is becoming easier, especially with all the social media choices out there,” Melgar said. “There’s an opportunity to know more about the customer’s interest. As things may change over time, the consumer that needed the yellow bus last summer may need different equipment the next time, so stay in contact and stay engaged.”
Killingsworth added: “If an individual or organization had a transportation need, there’s a very good chance they’re going to have more. Staying connected means if you win the business on this particular inquiry or you don’t win the business, put them into your database and communicate with them. You want to show respect and add them to your list and stay in touch with them.”
For many, BusRates is an opportunity for operators to grow their business.
“A lot of our traffic is first-timers,” said Melgar, which means that operators who get BusRates leads should take the time to educate these potential customers about what they should be looking for in a motorcoach.
“It’s an opportunity for these motorcoach operators to not only get that first-timer as a customer and have it as long as they can service them, but to educate them on what they can do for them,” she said.