Sharon quickly got the impression that Ray wasn't all that excited about her description of what he and his wife could do and see in Aruba. "Ray," she needed to find out how he felt for sure, "I need to ask you a question that might make you uncomfortable. Would that be OK?"
He looked up for a moment, smiled for a second and then responded. "I guess you're wondering why I don't sound thrilled with Aruba."
"You heard me. Tell me, leave the cost out... where do you really want to go? Could you share that with me?"
Ray looked around the office and on the back wall noticed a large map of the world. What difference does it make, he thought to himself, I might as well tell her. She'll think I'm nuts.
"Right in the middle of the Pacific," Ray blurted out, still staring at the map. "Hawaii. Ever since I read James Michener's book back when I was in ninth grade, it's been where I need to go."
"What's stopping you then?" asked Sharon. For a second, she saw an angry look flash across his face. It disappeared to be replaced with a resigned look and sigh.
"The money. I've heard that it costs at least $600 a day. No way can we afford that."
"Can I ask you something?" asked Sharon.
"By the way you looked when I was describing Aruba, it doesn't seem like you and your wife are big, everything-planned-out resort folks... fair to say?"
"Actually, we hate that. Been there, done that."
"You might not believe this at first. We'll work on it if you want. There are very nice small inns, B & Bs all over Hawaii. There's a place in Hilo, on the Big Island, the Dolphin Bay Hotel that is $60 a night. Everyone I've sent there always winds up going back."
"That's less than we paid at the Jersey shore per night," said Ray with a look of astonishment. "What about food?"
"A mile or so down the road is a place called Cafe 100. The food's good and inexpensive. It's not fancy."
"We're not fancy people. What do we do next?"
Instead of Sharon selling Aruba, Ray is buying Hawaii. Did Sharon have to "sell" anything?
Could Sharon have "sold" Ray on a trip to Aruba? Probably. Ray would probably refer to the Aruba trip as "the one the travel agent thought would be good." Ray would not have owned the trip.
Would Ray and his wife come back to Sharon down the road for another trip? Maybe. Would Ray and his wife recommend Sharon after a trip to Aruba. Probably not.
The Aruba trip was Sharon's. It was not the trip Ray wanted, and she had the skill to notice that even though Ray was listening, he wasn't emotionally buying.
By setting up a safe environment, by asking him where he really wanted to go, she found out what he wanted to buy. He also proceeded to tell her why he had never bought Hawaii before, his perception of what it cost per day.
Consider the position this puts Sharon in. If she can get Ray and his wife to Hawaii for less than $600 a day, she's got someone sitting in front of her who will most likely buy. By asking a few questions, she quickly finds out that Ray might prefer something other than a completely planned-out, meals-included vacation.
Sharon now has a buyer sitting in front of her who is telling her exactly what he wants to buy. She isn't selling anything other than her ability to ask questions.
Do you think Ray will be back for other trips after Sharon gets him to Hawaii? Do you think Sharon will get referrals from Ray?
If you see confusion, lack of interest, annoyance, frustration, or any other similar emotion on the prospect's face, make it safe for him to tell you what's going on, and then ask him what's going on.
The moment you do that, you will start hearing his real needs and wants. If what you hear is something you can provide, then all you have to do is wait for the buyer to let you know it's time to buy.
If what you hear is something you cannot provide, then gently refer the buyer to someone who can provide what's needed. Even though you won't make the sale, you will have a referral source that will endlessly supply first-class referrals.
Help the prospect create the buying environment, and you won't have to sell because he will be buying every time he responds.