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Sales Leaders: Are You a Travel Agent or Tour Guide? | Jeff C West

My wife and I love to travel. We have been blessed to see many parts of the United States and Mexico as well as some beautiful and historic countries in Europe. Although I don’t enjoy the actual “travel day” – it is a price I readily pay for the experience of meeting other people and enjoying the culture in places that I don’t see every day. [lightbox link=”https://jeffcwest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Paris-2-e1386780117836.jpg” thumb=”https://jeffcwest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Paris-2-e1386780117836-225×300.jpg” width=”225″ align=”left” title=”Not a Bad B&B, huh?” frame=”true” icon=”image”]

We have a wonderful Travel Agent that we have used for years. She provides an excellent customer experience for us time after time. She makes fantastic recommendations as to where we should go and what we should do when we get there. There is no doubt that our experience is better because of her expertise and guidance.

We have also taken advantage of some great Tour Guides along the way. One particular Tour Guide in Tuscany really stands out in my mind. We hired a young lady for the day to give us a personal guided tour to various wineries and farms in that beautiful region of Italy. We visited several old and historic wine cellars – some even in “dungeon” looking places below beautiful buildings that were hundreds of years old. We enjoyed cheese that was made from the milk of the goats and cows we saw grazing in the pasture. We even had a private wine-tasting in a family owned winery in which the only people in attendance were my wife, me, the owner, his mother and our Tour Guide. “Mama” didn’t speak a word of English, and I didn’t speak more than a couple of words of Italian. But she kept bringing the wine and cheese – and without a doubt, we bonded! She was a real sweetheart![lightbox link=”https://jeffcwest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Paris-1-e1386780203138.jpg” thumb=”https://jeffcwest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Paris-1-e1386780203138-225×300.jpg” width=”225″ align=”right” title=”I’m always holding the camera!” frame=”true” icon=”image”]

As wonderful as my Travel Agent is, there is no way that she could have given us the experience we had with our Tuscan Tour Guide. Both had their roles in making our travel experience successful. However, those roles were completely different. And because of our inexperience in the Tuscany area, the Tour Guide made it a huge success.

What is your role in equipping your sales team to reach their highest potential? That answer depends on two factors.

  1. What is your position in the structure of your organization?
    • For the last twelve years my position was a high level sales manager and coach. Some of my time was in the trenches helping with large case acquisition. However, my primary role was to provide structure and coaching to take good people to a greater level of success by advanced training and higher level thinking. I would also coach my lower level coaches in being more effective at their level. In essence – I was their “Travel Agent”.
    • Prior to that – my role in the organization was to take new sales people into the field and equip them to consistently achieve their income goals, converting that newbie into a continually producing veteran. I did this with joint field work in live selling situations. In essence – I was their “Tour Guide”.
  2. What is the experience level of the new sales person?
    • Some new sales people already have successful sales experience – all you must do is teach them how to be successful selling your product or service.
    • Some new sales people have the desire and work ethic but lack actual sales experience – you must teach them basic sales skills as well as inspire them on a daily basis.

Make sure that your organizational alignment has everyone on the same page as to the specifics of their role. Combine those roles as necessary using the following as a guideline.

If a “Travel Agent” is responsible for the onboarding of an inexperienced newbie – the newbie is destined to struggle unless they are a part of the 10% of all sales people that will succeed without any field training. The newbie will be neglected and die on the vine. Then the “Travel Agent” will blame it on their lack of work ethic. Newbies should have a “Tour Guide” help them during their field training.

If a “Tour Guide” is responsible for the onboarding of an experienced sales person – the new sales person will be bored and feel micro-managed unless the “Tour Guide” recognizes this and combines the role of “Travel Agent” and “Tour Guide”.

If your sales management team consists of mostly “Travel Agents”, you need to hire people with successful sales experience in their industry. If you must hire inexperienced sales people, make sure that you set them up with a great “Tour Guide”.

Questions:

  1. Are you a “Travel Agent” or a “Tour Guide” in your current position?
  2. Which type of “trainer” did you need when you began your career?

Post your comments below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts!