Meet Lyle. Lyle sells boat trips on the island of St Lucia. Over the 10 days lying on the beach I watched and listened to his sales approach, which was highly successful (he even managed to get me on a boat trip). He was the best salesperson I’ve come across, and it got me thinking: “Why was Lyle so good at this kind of selling?”.
Firstly, it always helps if you have a great product, which Lyle has, but it takes more than a great product to make a sale. So, what else has helped him be a success for the last 7 years? The main thing is that Lyle completely understands what it is he is selling – he’s not selling a boat trip, he’s selling a memory, an experience that can’t be recreated. He asks people what they enjoyed about their trip and then he uses that when selling to others. He knows what people want from a trip and can therefore articulate this to others who will be looking for the same thing.
He understood what I would call the Voice of the Customer (what is important to them as individuals).
He also understood his competition. He made it his business to know what they have to offer and can explain why his trips outshines the others. He didn’t speak badly of his competitors, simply emphasised the advantages his trips had that they didn’t.
It’s all about relationships
But the main thing that made Lyle so successful was his people skills. He was cheerful, enthusiastic, engaging, funny and always had a smile on his face. He talked to people, asked questions about where they were from, when they were going home, what they were looking to do on holiday and then remembered these details days later. To do this takes skill; he’d have to remember details about hundreds of holidaymakers so he could call on that knowledge when he saw you making your way down the beach. This extra effort made you feel special, gives the impression that he was particularly interested in you, and enables him to build rapport quickly and effectively.
To build on his relationships even further, he freely offered information about the resort, the island, where to go and what to do. A few hidden gems that we discovered were down to his tips. And none of those things were obviously helping him make a sale, he simply seemed like a great guy who wanted you to have the best possible time. A friend helping you out.
But during conversations, Lyle didn’t let an opportunity go by to ask when you were going to book a the trip with him. He also kept you up to date with the number of spaces left on the trip. Only 3 couples left. He would then point to others who had just signed up so you understood that others where buying to take away in risk in you spending your money. None of this was done in an aggressive way, but in the same way as he talked about other parts of the island. He gave the impression he genuinely didn’t want you to miss out, and was always happy to change the subject if you said you weren’t
up for it now.
Creating Brand Ambassadors
Lyle also used brand ambassadors to do the talking for him. When people were trying to decide if they should spend their money on the trip he would invite those who had already been out to talk to them. He asked us to chat to a couple about our experience, just like a different couple had done for us before we went out. We were happy to do it as we had built rapport with him and had such a great trip. This worked even better because he would introduce us and then walk away so that the couple could have an open and honest discussion about the trip. There is nothing more powerful than customers giving a genuine, positive endorsement.
Lyle made sure he was there before out trip set off and was waiting for us on our return. To ensure customer service, to ask if we’d mind recommending him, and just to confirm how great things had been. If there were any problems he could have sorted them out straight away.
He also talked like he owned the company, rather than being a salesperson – he loved it, believed in it and had a passion for it. He talked about how they were number three on TripAdvisor for the island but they wanted to be number one. His passion and conviction in his product was compelling and he did all this with just 10 small photographs and his people skills.
For me Lyle demonstrated all the skills needed to be an effective salesperson.
- Enthusiasm and passion
- Understanding of your customers
- Knowledge of the marketplace
- Exceptional rapport building skills
- Understanding of influencing approaches
- Use of testimonials and referrals
- Persistence, never give up on a sale
- Excellent customer service
- Energy and drive
- Understanding of people
I think we can all learn from Lyle and his approach to selling. I am sure he will continue to be a success on the island. It was a pleasure to do business with him.