Operators eager to put Sales Summit principles into practice

As the UMA’s Bus & Motorcoach Industry Sales Summit wrapped up this week, attendees were ready to put into practice what they had learned during the nine-hour virtual training held over three days.

“One of my big takeaways from the last three days has been that there are always little tweaks that can be made and there are always ways to do things better,” said Caroline Ravazzolo with Great Canadian Holidays & Coaches. 

She and the company’s sales manager used their breaks to compare notes and discuss their takeaways from the third year of UMA’s Sales Summit. The training event was conducted online using a platform that allowed attendees to network using video chat and to visit booths and lounge tables to extend the learning experience outside of the traditional workshop sessions.

Ravazzolo says she has already begun changing the way she interacts with clients, beginning with shortening up how she answers the phone. She is also ready to put Vicki Bowman’s tips on using a communications calendar to produce more consistent messaging on social media. She plans to target social media content to highlight her company’s different operations — tour, fleet and repair service — since they have a different clientele.

“I think that would be a very strong step forward for us,” said Ravazzolo, who shared her insights as a part of a panel discussion that included operator Cary Martin, of Little Rock Tours, and speaker Jim Pancero.

Sales Summit puts focus on process

The final day of the summit focused on the steps of a successful sales process as Pancero wrapped up the last day with a two-part presentation full of solid and actionable steps that will lead to more sales if they are adhered to.

“The way selling and buying are working today is radically different than what it was even five years ago,” Pancero said. “Salespeople are being brought in later in the process, customers have less loyalty, customers want fewer conversations and less chit chat. They are saying, ‘Don’t be my friend, just help me solve my problems.’ All these changes are not due to COVID. They’re due to this natural generational shift that happens every 10 years in selling.”

Pancero added it is a mistake for sales reps to take an approach of waiting for business to get back to where it was pre-pandemic.

“It never will. We’re in a new culture. We’re in a new environment, or a new competitive arena,” he said. “So now the question is, what do you do to take advantage of the new rules of selling, even though it requires old tools?”

Attendees received an electronic workbook from Pancero walking them through a successful sales call.

Summit highlights:

The Sales Summit kicked off with keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell who energized 150 participants with her presentation on Sales Redefined: Engage, Connect and Thrive in Uncertainty.

“Will you be ready for the changes in the marketplace?” she asked. “Will you take the time at this event, learning about strategies and ideas that will help you to grow your business successfully no matter what the marketplace does?”

“Hope” she reminded the audience, “Is not a strategy.” Her presentation was full of important takeaways that attendees will use to build their businesses back.

Key Sales Summit takeaways include:

  • Brent Maitland, VP of Private Sector Sales and Marketing at MCI delivered an information-packed presentation on all the ways operators can and should use their safety and disinfection strategies to sell more effectively. He peppered his presentation with important and convincing data points that show the safety and benefits of motorcoach travel and offered dozens of ideas for everything from ways to improve the sales process to how to translate what people say into what they really want.
  • Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, shared strategies for truly reaching customers with the right kind of messages. She talked about “capturing the customer,” saying “it’s like putting your arm around the customer when you tell them they called the right place.” Testing your company’s phone tree and your staff’s handling of incoming calls are two important keys to improving the call reception process, according to The Telephone Doctor.
  • Nicole Thuemmel of WebFX discussed “Harnessing the Power of the Internet.” In her presentation, she focused on the importance of understanding your user and building your online presence to meet their expectations, get insight into how they will engage with your company, and finally how you can generate revenue from those interactions. “Think about it almost from your own personal use . . . whenever you visit a website you want it to be more than enjoyable so that you feel comfortable and confident reaching out to that business,” she said.
  • Vicki Bowman of VB Group Marketing and Event Resources focusing on social media. She emphasized the importance of knowing your customers and finding the right channels to connect with the various demographics and profiles of your clientele and potential customers. “You can have the best website, the best Facebook or LinkedIn profile, but if the majority of your customers aren’t there, they’re just not going to see what you’re putting out there.”

Excited about sales

Little Rock Tours’ Martin believes the past 15 months of inactivity have set the stage for operators to reset their businesses by getting excited about the sales process again. 

 “This is just a good reminder because sometimes you get in the habit of missing a step, and that can have a profound impact on whether the customer buys or moves on to someone else,” Martin said. 

The Sales Summit was supported by Platinum Sponsor MCI, Gold Sponsor BusRates.com and Silver Sponsors Spader Business Management and VB Group Marketing & Event Resources.

Recordings of all sessions are available for the next 30 days for attendees to watch again.


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