Paul Pei: To Sell Smarter Consider the Emotion of Customer Behavior
Following up on his session at IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas (“Selling and Buying is Emotional”) Paul Pei, president of Park Ad LLC, shares some additional ideas that emerged from attendee questions and are vitally important now that the parks and attractions are reopening.
Now, because of the coronavirus, we are all operating under tremendous challenges. We are all in this together, and while the horizon is dark for now, there is confidence that we will eventually emerge stronger and regain our success in this fabulous industry.
During my successful 15-year career at Ocean Park Hong Kong, our CEO consistently reminded us to “control the controllable.” This phrase has stuck with me all this time and is very applicable today. While we have learned and adapted mitigating actions in view of it, the coronavirus is not in our control. As such, let’s move on to what we can control and make the best of the situation. We can use this down time to do a number of things to strengthen our position in the marketplace and be ready when the situation improves. I am sure that you have thought of these already so let this just be a reminder.
- Use the time to review and amend sales and marketing plans under these new parameters.
A. Review actions in advertising, promotions, and public relations to reflect the business reality around us.
B. Minimize costs where appropriate but not necessarily to just cut advertising and promotions. Instead, seriously review where resources can be re-deployed to maximize returns from all areas of marketing, advertising, digital marketing, social media, etc. C. Make every effort to examine and understand the market, suspects, prospects, and customer base so that you can allocate resources accordingly to maximize return in each area.
D. Evaluate and understand your segmentation to ensure they are accurate under these new circumstances and adjust where necessary.
- Review sales structure to maximize coverage of territory and vertical markets. Study your customer and account lists to ensure coverage.
- Review staffing in sales and marketing, again, not just to trim numbers, but to ensure you can and will be able to maintain market coverage and market share with your team.
- Map out action plans for all sales activities, sales calls, promotions, road shows, etc.
- Seek and identify new markets that may not have been considered or available previously for whatever reason. Leave no stone unturned.
- Motivate and inspire the sales team, perhaps even more than before. Make sure that they are all performing at the highest level possible.
- Listen to your customers and prospects to understand, appreciate, respect, and empathize with their situation. Confirm their needs so that you can address them.
- Re-confirm with your customers that you will always provide the best products and service to them today and in the future.
Selling Benefits and Understanding the Customer Situation
During this pandemic, buying a leisure service and product like our attractions is a tough decision. There are many other pressing matters that require customers’ discretionary funds. However, it won’t be like this forever. The industry and our attractions will recover in time. Our goal in sales today is to make sure that our clients or prospects have all the information and encouragement they need to make that buying decision when he is ready to buy. Although he may not be buying NOW, we can build on his buying emotions, make it stronger and more meaningful so that when the time is appropriate that decision will be easily made in our favor.
Focus on your BENEFITS in selling. Features + Advantages = Benefits. People buy Benefits. Make sure that your benefits are always in the forefront for your clients and prospects. Promote and emphasize your benefits so that these are entrenched in his mind. This way, when he is ready to buy, he won’t have to ask about the benefits that he is buying or why he is buying. Selling Benefits is not hard sale; it is providing a reason to buy and helping the prospect understand what you have to offer. Remember also that people buy because they do not have a reason not to buy. There is a reason to every action taken. Selling is to create that reason.
Empathize with the prospect that you understand his current situation and while he may not buy today, you will be there for him when he is ready to buy. This is the best way to support your clients and prospects during these difficult times: “Mr. Smith, I understand your current situation. We are all in this together. I want you to know the Benefits we offer so that when you are ready to come back, we will be there for you.”
We are in the business of selling and providing FUN. There is a great demand for FUN. Successful salespeople will tell you that respect is earned and never a given. We earn respect every day from our prospects/customers. We do this by respecting them: “Mr. Smith, we respect your views and decision all the time and we will be so happy to welcome you to our park when the time is right. We will provide you with the FUN that is what sets us apart. We have talked about our benefits and am confident that these are important to you. We will make every effort to ensure you enjoy and value your experience at our park.”
Generating the Need to Visit a Park
Make sure your Features plus advantages equal BENEFITS. The need to visit your park depends heavily on the Benefits to visit your park. Remember that people buy Benefits, nothing else. Understand your value proposition, which must be one of your major benefits. People buy because they believe that what they buy is of benefit to them and represents a value.
No one wakes up in the middle of the night to say that they need to go to our park. We must create this need or the perception of this need. Think about this:
- Going to a movie costs an average of $12 and that is 2 hours of entertainment, i.e. $6 per hour.
- Going to your park costs perhaps $30 and that can be 10 hours of entertainment, i.e. $3 per hour.
- In a movie, you get one experience of entertainment.
- In Ocean Park Hong Kong where I spent 15 years, the park offered over 80 rides, shows, and attractions. That equates to over 80 experiences per visit. During special events, the experiences grow dramatically. During Halloween, the park offered over 30 Halloween related experiences including eight haunted houses. There is so much more value at the park.
The attractions industry plays a major role in the lives of everyone. We provide good experiences in a safe environment to people of all ages. We provide value consistently and we create good memories from generation to generation.
Our Goal is to Sell “Smarter”
Technology has been helpful and essential in collecting, collating, and disseminating information. It has made information easily accessible for a wide audience at any time of the day or night, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. It has provided us a way to create and organize data to be easily reached and understood. The website is today an essential tool for selling and marketing. It has been said that if it is not on the internet in a website, it may not be worth buying. Social media, Facebook, Twitter, have become and will continue to be essential communication tools to share information effectively and quickly. This generation has its hands attached to keyboards and eyes glued to a screen. So, make good use of these tools. However, as mentioned, these are tools to reach out to the audience, but they must be supported by a salesperson because selling and buying are emotional and done by people.