If the likes of Facebook and Amazon teach us one thing it’s good target practice. In the online world, it seems offers are most of the time tailor made for me; sometimes suggesting things I hadn’t considered but which make perfect sense.
Why then is it so hard to replicate this in real life? Before jumping into the complex world of corporate travel, let’s look at something more general: buying a car. The sales person jumps into their pitch and tells me everything they know (and think I want to know) about how taking half an inch off the side mirror makes the car faster and more aerodynamic. Great. But I still don’t know whether I’ll be comfortable with my whole family, including pets on a six-hour drive.
It comes down to sales people being very passionate and enthusiastic about what they’re selling. Whilst this is an all-important trait, it would work even better if they could just take a little moment and let me tell them why I’m even considering buying a new car (or whatever else it might be).
In corporate travel, there’s an added complexity: not knowing who you are selling to. Is it the person sitting in the room with you? Or is he/she going to present your information to other stakeholders? Is it a group who is going to make the decision or an individual? And should you sell to the company or emphasize the benefits to travelers?
With so many different stakeholders within the travel chain – from Travel Managers, to Coordinators and Bookers, Procurement departments and then of course the traveller themselves, finding answers to the questions isn’t always easy, and it means that messaging for the pitch is often not as good as it could be. One example is an over-emphasis on traveler engagement to a decision maker who doesn’t travel. They might be able to see the benefit overall, but perhaps the presentation could have gone better by focusing on the back-office solutions that enable traveler engagement.
What’s the solution? Do some research: look up the people you’re going to meet if you haven’t spoken to them before. Understand where they’re coming from, what their challenges might be and what is likely to be of interest to them. Ask your contact who is the ultimate decision maker and whether they’re going to be there – or whether it’s going to be a ‘desk-based’ decision with information provided by your contact. Ask how you can help prepare information if it’s the latter: showing support and caring will make your relationship better and might just increase your chances to win the bid.
It’s not always easy to ask questions, but being mindful and showing interest in someone’s work will help get answers; and enable you to create a suitable customised pitch!