In the Trenches: Refining the Sales Pitch

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on October 31, 2012
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With Hurricane Sandy messing with flight schedules this week, we’ve been busy. We’ve received many urgent-assistance calls from potential new clients who needed help reaching their destinations, despite the storm; however, not all of them decided to sign up for our service. So, I wonder whether there’s more we could do with our initial sales pitch to increase the number of callers who sign up.

Of course, we’re never going to get 100 percent conversion. After all, we charge $150 for urgent assistance calls, and that isn’t pocket change. What’s more, we don’t do the work until people sign up. Essentially, clients pay us to identify all possible travel options, even if those options aren’t perfect — and sometimes we’re unable to find anything that works for them.

In general, we can almost always find an option that will get someone where they need to go, but they may not want to pay the fare required to do it. Or they may not want to stop three times and switch airports. Or they may not be willing to split up their group on different flights. The point is: We can usually get people to their destinations, but they may not like what it takes to get them there.

So, naturally, we end up with a fair number of people who want to “think about it” before signing up, and then we don’t hear from them again. That always leaves me wondering what we could have done better to convert them into clients.

We can get a feel for what each prospective client wants by asking a few questions during the initial call. It doesn’t take long for us to judge whether or not it will be easy to get a new flight for someone. For example, there was one prospective client over the weekend who would have been relatively easy to accommodate, given his target destination. But the ticket price would be high, and I could tell that money would be an issue. This was one of those clients who wanted to think about things and never called back.

Could we have said someone more to convince him that we could help? I mentioned our money-back guarantee, and I noted that we could likely make the itinerary work, but it might not be cheap. I always think it’s best to be clear up front, but that could scare people off. The big issue is that we can’t be completely accurate, because we haven’t done any of the real work yet … because that’s what they’d pay us for.

Really, the issue needs to be refined as we go, but it’s frustrating when someone decides not to sign up when I know there’s a good chance that we could have helped.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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