8 Lessons Learnt from Disney’s Sales Manual

If there’s one brand that knows how to sell, it’s Disney. Spanning the decades and transcending generations, Disney continually creates new, compelling reasons for their wide-reaching audience to buy back into the brand. From theme parks to animations, Disney magic is alive and well. So what can we learn from the masters themselves?

We’ve examined Disney’s Sales Manual – a guide for travel agents selling holidays to Disneyland Paris – and extracted 8 important sales lessons for your business. Enjoy!

1. Offer a clear hook to your audience 

The Disney Sales Manual leads with a series of bullet-pointed facts and figures, giving an immediate insight into the Disneyland offering. The opening sentence, “this guide has been created to help you provide your customers with the best possible advice,” says it all. Its clear, relevant and helpful information is vital to the sales process.
 
For Disney, that means providing an immediate snapshot of the Disneyland experience, including specific statistics (“the leading tourist destination in Europe with 14.9 million visits in 2013”), and aspirational statements (“365 days of magic, every year”). And, while Disneyland operates in a very specific niche, businesses across all industries can learn from this fact-driven, easy-to-digest introduction.
 
When selling a product or service, give your customers an instant understanding of what you are offering, including features and benefits. After all, why should your audience pay any attention to your business without this initial pivotal information? Giving customers a reason to discover more via ‘top of the funnel’ content doesn’t have to be laborious. In fact, 74% of top-performing companies use automated lead nurturing tools before launching into the full sales pitch.

2. Give customers the freedom to personalise their purchase 

As customers, we like to feel an element of control when making a purchase. For Disney that means giving visitors the freedom to select their length of stay, their hotel and a number of add-ons and upgrades.
 
Salespeople from any industry can learn from this tactic. By offering your customers a set of clear, limited options for personalisation – whether it’s graded services (like Spotify’s ad-free option) or bolt-on extras (like Disney’s meal plans) – customers are empowered to tailor their purchase according to their needs and values.
 
For many businesses, these personalised options not only boost sales but allow staff to build rapport with customers, inciting brand loyalty in the process. In the case of Disney travel agents, they can chat with customers over the phone or in person, getting to know their specific needs and helping to create an experience entirely suited to them. 
 
In a survey of more than 1,100 digital and ecommerce professionals by Econsultancy and Monetate94% of people stated that personalisation ‘is critical to current and future success.’ Impressively, businesses that offered a personalised online experience with the ability to quantify any improvement in sales, experienced a 19% increase in sales on average. Here are the main reasons why those interviewed are offering a personalised website experience:
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Image Credit: econsultancy.com 

3. Create packages

While tailor-made holidays are vital to Disney’s offering, packaged breaks are also important to lure in new visitors or encourage repeat bookings. At Disneyland, that translates to themed breaks across the seasons, from Disney’s Halloween Festival to Disney’s Enchanted Christmas. For potential visitors on the cusp of a booking, these packages help to convert interest into custom with a clear, enticing offering.
 
As a general rule, products and services are easy to sell because they are easy to buy. Bundled into a concise, themed package, customers know exactly what they are getting when they hit ‘book now’ or ‘add to cart’ button. Disney capitalises on this to great effect. Personalised options are still available (the sales manual reads, “For total immersion, suggest the following complimentary products to your clients”), but this is part of the small-print, not the main sell.
 
To create a package, turn a service into a product by selling it as a toolkit, monthly subscription or e-course, for example. These packages can be graded with different levels – Spotify does this with its free and Premium services – and presented clearly on your website or marketing material. Allow your customers to make a purchase quickly and easily with a ‘buy now’ button on your website, just like Hootsuite
For businesses that operate offline, these packages can be upsold following a purchase. A second-hand car dealer may offer a ‘maintenance’ package including an annual MOT, servicing and tire changes, for example.

4. Incentivise early bookings ​

The earlier your customers reserve a product or purchase your services, the easier it becomes to forecast for the months and years ahead. For Disney, it’s preferable for holidaymakers to book a stay at the park as early as possible, so advanced reservations are incentivised. In many cases, advance booking is a prerequisite of certain services and attractions at the park, including specific meals, transport options with the Disney Express and treatments at the Celestia Spa at Disneyland Hotel.

5. Focus on USPs 

Disney’s knows its Unique Selling Points (or USPs) inside and out. As a result, its customers do too – and this clarity proves itself as a powerful sales tool. Disney’s USP is its unquantifiable ‘magic’ created by decades of first-rate customer service, special parades and attention to detail like no other theme park on earth. As a brand, Disneyland creates a spine-tingling feeling that even the hardiest of adults cannot resist.
 
Disney reflects its own USP throughout every element of the brand. From designed visuals to phone reps and staff at the park itself, the experience is always professional, friendly and family-focussed. No matter what, customers can trust that they will always get the same warm welcome from Disneyland. The promise of magic and excellence is always fulfilled, without exception.
 
Learn from Disney. Show confidence in your own USP by reflecting your values throughout every facet of the business. Unsure of your USP? Start by identifying your target audience and looking at why they are interested in your industry. Then, spot your own unique offering to this audience by asking yourself:
  • Why us, and not our competitors?
  • What do we want our customers to say about us?
  • What is the one thing we want to be remembered for?


Once your USP is clear, tie it up across every part of the business – from the marketing team through to IT support and HR. Ensure your brand lives and breathes its USP not only on paper, but in practice too.

6. Be clear – what’s included, and what costs extra?

Customers are not receptive to a lack of clarity when buying a product or service. Disneyland understands this. That’s why they clearly state what’s included in the cost of their holidays, and what will cost extra either in advance or at the park. As stated in the sales manual, free services in Disneyland include FASTPASS, Single Rider tickets and use of the baby centre. Paid extras include a PhotoPass and wheelchair and buggy rentals.
 
Sales is not only about communication and persuasion – it’s about trust. Learn from Disney and tell your customers exactly what they will and won’t get for the price they are paying. This transparency will go a long way towards boosting your bottom line.

7. Target the decision-makers 

Who is Disneyland for, kids or adults? The line is blurry, but that’s intentional on Disney’s part. While the magic of Disneyland appeals largely to children, it’s their parents who hold the decision-making power and financial sway; a fact that’s reflected in the sales manual. Parents want to know that their children – from toddlers to teens – will be entertained morning to night. Meanwhile, adults travelling child-free are lured by exclusive spa packages, an adults-only swimming pool, late-night entertainment and romantic restaurants.

Businesses can learn from this by understanding the difference between a target demographic and decision-makers. Children’s toys are not sold to the kids themselves – they are targeted at their parents. The same is true for many products or services targeting a specific gender. While the man or woman may be their target audience, a husband, wife, mother, father, sister or brother may hold some decision-making sway too.

8. Use visuals 

Visuals have a vital role to play during the sales process. In the Disney Sales Manual, the hotel room floorplans are much more insightful than a description explaining layout and dimensions.
The strength of visuals – including product images and instructional videos – is backed up by scientific studies that link visual content with cognitive behaviour, including:

  • A strong link between images and emotional connections
  • The role of user experience – spanning layout, typography and colour – on website conversions
  • The popularity of visuals in social media, including Pinterest and Instagram

 
These simple facts point towards the same conclusion – that imagery and video has a vital role in boost sales figures. Amazingly, visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text and generates 94% more views too. For more remarkable facts, check out the following infographic, which explains the science behind it all in an apt visual format.

​Image Credit: Visual.ly ​

What can your business learn from Disney?

So what can your business really take away from the Disney Sales Manual? Let’s recap the eight vital lessons.
  1. Use quick facts to showcase your product or service in an instant
  2. Allow customers to personalise their purchase with optional extras
  3. Bundle your sales offering into a clear, marketable package
  4. Offer incentives to your customers
  5. Be clear about your Unique Selling Proposition, and use it throughout your brand
  6. Be honest and transparent
  7. Identify the decision-makers and appeal to them
  8. Take the time to create imagery to accompany the sales process

 
If you’ve got ten minutes to spare, read Disney’s manual in full and pick out your own key lessons, then share your thoughts in the comments below! 


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