OPENING THE CONVERSATION
Picture this - you're strolling through your local mall when a special piece of clothing catches your eye and draws you into a particular store. As you enter, the sales agent approaches and greets you with those five fateful words -- how can I help you? You immediately take a breath and reply with "no, thanks. I was just looking." Opening a sales conversation with the right greeting matters and if a picture is worth a thousand words, starting off with the right greeting just might be worth a million...
Catchers and Pitchers. What's the difference? If we're talking baseball, catchers catch and pitchers...well, they pitch. In any sales environment, catchers approach each interaction as a routine behavior in which their role is simply that of a reactive participant. Catchers often assume the guest already knows what they want.
There's a famous quote from Henry Ford that I love to reference at this point:
If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
Henry Ford didn't just assume people's needs, he provided an alternative that most people hadn't ever imagined.
In our attractions world, we offer plenty of fantastic experiences and services that our guests had no idea were even an option. By asking how can I help you before we've assessed who they are puts the cart before the horse and does a disservice to the guest. In essence, we have surrendered the sale and put the guest in the driver's seat.
Sales pitchers take a different approach. They skillfully open each conversation in a manner that builds trust and rapport with each arriving guest. They get to know their guest by first exchanging names with one-another.
ME: Hi, I'm Marty. What's your name
GUEST: I'm Erin and this is Sue.
ME: Hi Erin. Hi Sue. Welcome. It's good to have you here.
Exchanging names is just the start. Once we've gotten on a first name basis, we need to understand our guest's needs in order to make an appropriate recommendation. Think back to the mall example. Rather than asking how can I help you (which surrenders the sale), what questions might the sales associate have asked? Here are a few alternate ways that the sales associate and our sales teams might A-S-K questions that illicit a clearer understanding of guest needs:
A-Ask if this is their first time
S-Start with a compliment (but keep it professional)
K-Keep track of and recognize returning guests
Finally, great sales pitchers don't become great overnight. Just as it is with any great baseball pitcher, it takes time, practice, and dedication. Not everyone is cut out to be a pitcher either. Great sales pitchers are, at their core, people people. Some people just aren't cut out for the level of engagement that being a successful sales pitcher requires. In order to become a successful sales pitcher, you must enjoy the daily engagement and want to understand every guest's needs. You must also be an expert in both your park and the products and packages that are available to satisfy your guest's needs.
Developing a strong team of sales pitchers makes good business sense too. These individuals can be single-handedly responsible for elevating the level of service that your guests receive during their arrival experience and the products that your sales pitchers provide to their guests lead to an elevated guest experience. The bottom line - when pitchers win, the team wins.
"Nobody likes to hear it, because it's dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same - pitching."
- Earl Weaver