Sales Champions are a breed all their own. They are experts in their field and they go the extra mile to grow guest satisfaction, to sell more packages and memberships, and to increase revenue. Sales Champions know what they are selling and they understand that the words they use make all the difference. Even with all of the YESes they enjoy, Sales Champions hear NO more often than they hear YES...but they don't give up. Instead, they seek to understand the reason behind the "NO." They ask follow-up questions, listen attentively, and then either work to clarify the original recommendation or opt to provide an alternative with the information the guest has provided.

Ask Why...then STOP & Listen. When guests say NO, Sales Champions search for the reason behind the "NO." Then, they keep quiet and actively listen to the guest's response. Generally, guests will object to a seller's recommendation when that recommendation fails to resonate effectively with the guest. The most common objections can be categorized this way:

TIME - I don't have enough time to participate, enjoy, or use what is being recommended

PRICE - It's too expensive; can't afford it

VALUE - I won't use it because it's not meaningful to me

No Doesn't Always Mean NO. Some NOs are built on an incorrect fact (i.e. the zoo closes at 5 PM; in fact the zoo is open until 8 PM) while others are constructed on false assumptions (i.e. taking in an IMAX or planetarium show will cut into our free time; in fact IMAX and planetarium experiences enrich the guest experience). Sales Champions understand not only the products they're selling but how certain features and benefits of the product will appeal specifically to their guest. Once the seller understands what the guest's specific objection is to the recommendation, they can take one of two approaches:

Clarify Information. When guests have false information, it's important to correct it in a way that doesn't insult or belittle the guest. Remember, Sales Champions are the EXPERT--they know everything there is to know about your facility and its products--and, when used properly, that knowledge is all that's required to sway the guest's decision toward your recommendation, however, Sales Champions must exhibit patience, empathy, and respect during the conversation.

Offer an Alternative. Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation's founding fathers, took the time to listen, learn, and to find the third alternative. While training Indian chiefs who headed up the Indian nations of the United States, he received a gift-an intricately-carved, five-foot-tall Talking Stick with the name Bald Eagle inscribed upon it. In the Iroquois nation, the Talking Stick is used to sort out differences and to improve communication.

Here's how it works:

"Whenever people meet together., the Talking Stick is present. Only the person holding the Talking Stick is permitted to speak. As long as you have the Talking Stick, you alone may speak, until you are satisfied that you are understood. Others are not permitted to make their own points, argue, agree or disagree. All they may do is attempt to understand you and then articulate that understanding. They may need to restate your point to make sure that you feel understood, or you may just simply feel that they understand.

As soon as you feel understood, it is your obligation to pass the Talking Stick to the next person and then to work to make him feel understood. As he makes his points, you have to listen, restate and empathize until he feels truly understood. This way, all of the parties involved take responsibilities for one hundred percent of the communication, both speaking and listening. Once each of the parties feels understood, an amazing thing usually happens. Negative energy dissipates, contention evaporates, mutual respect grows, and people become creative. New ideas emerge. Third alternatives appear."[1]

Overcoming objections leads to happier guests, busier facilities, and higher revenues. The key to success rests in listening, empathizing, and sharing appropriate information.

Don't talk-listen.

Don't overwhelm--clarify.

Don't preach--inform.

Don't sell-find solutions.

[1] Covey, S. R. (2005). The 8th habit: From effectiveness to greatness. New York: Free Press.

Have a great week!

"One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity."

- Albert Schweitzer