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Memo to GMs: The Pros and the Con of Relationship Selling 
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By Larry Jackstien, June 2006

How many hotel and resort general managers have heard their sales managers say:  “Success is all about relationships.  I just need time to develop mine and then I can close the deal.”    Sorry GM’s but much of this thinking is a CON – a way of begging for more time to do what is expected of sales personnel – to sell more rooms by meeting goals and quotas.  

Of course good relationships with potential customers is helpful.  Of course being liked by meeting planners or corporate clients is a positive, but selling is more about the needs of prospective customers and the solutions we can offer them than friendly mundane conversation, office visits or entertaining lunches. 

Customers buy from suppliers because they discover a hotel or resort that satisfies their requirements for a meeting or for their traveling employees, or because the destination works, or because the choice meets budget considerations.  Such issues are known almost from the first contact if sales managers are utilizing effective needs analysis.   Good questions are more important for establishing mutual win-win solutions than months and years of relationship building.  

Too many sales managers spend too much valuable selling time building friendly relationships with low probability prospects.   They would be better rewarded by finding more high probability prospects, establishing them as new accounts and determining if the hotel or resort can meet the prospect’s requirements of satisfaction.    Establishing a positive relationship of mutual trust in a needs assessment selling format should be the goal and this can happen in the earliest stages of the selling process.   On time delivery of needed sales support items, effective site inspections and eventual extraordinary service establish the kind of relationship that ends in success for both parties.   

Beware of the “CON” of believing that sales is only about “relationships”.  It’s not.  It’s about the right product that matches customer’s needs.  It’s about a lot of sales prospecting to find high probability contacts.  It’s about timely follow up.  It’s about delivering what is promised so that word-of-mouth recommendations flow as an end result. 

Get your sales managers off the daydream of long term relationship building and on to the reaching sales goals and quotas by getting back to the fundamentals of selling – finding new prospects, discovering their needs and matching your property to meet their requirements of satisfaction.   After all, sales success is measured by results, not by how many great relationships are building in someone’s pipeline.  

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Contact:

 Larry Jackstien
President
Marketing Hospitality Associates
2571 Oak Creek Circle
Sandy, Utah  84093
(801) 652-3131
jackstien@networld.com

Also See: New Hotel Technology Surround Us; Yet Face-to-face Selling is Still Most Productive / Neil Salerno / June 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People / Carol Verret / September 2005

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