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Sales 3.0 Technology

Key to New Business Development in 2010 & Beyond
This article is from the Fall 2009 issue of Hospitality Upgrade magazine.To view more articles covering technology for the hospitality industry please visit the Hospitality Upgrade Web site or to request a free publication please call (678) 802-5307 or e-mail.

By Carol Verret

You know that sales 2.0 is so last year when everyone now is touting their sales system as sales 2.0.  We are moving into sales 3.0 and not a moment too soon as it is this paradigm shift that will propel sales processes in the future.  We may still be in sales 2.5 but moving rapidly toward 3.0.

To clarify, 2.0 was all about search, niches and static user generated content, such as we find on Trip Advisor.  The sales process was still a linear transactional process – prospect, approach, qualify, negotiate and close.   It was hunter pursing the prey sort of thing. 

Use 3.0 to get noticed
  • Connect the dots
  • How did your current clients find you and make contact?
  • Research new prospects and contacts on social networks.
  • Using networks, both social and other communities, to create awareness.
  • Tipping points in the selection process.
  • Becoming the chosen one when the next meeting is being planned.
  • Building and maintaining the relationship.
How are these processes 3.0 vs. 2.0?
  • Smarter prospecting  by engaging current accounts to understand their motivations in the hotel selection process –by doing this we can create fans and not just clients.
  • The sales process emphasizes dynamic conversations and collaborations with clients across many channels vs. static linear user generated content.
  • It’s about the law of attraction–making a potential client aware of the property vs. pushing product.
  • Understanding that clients want to buy but don’t want to be sold–the choice or the close is on the buyer side and rests on relationships of trust not just features of the property.
  • Building relationships based on touch points not just pushing the product.

Sales 3.0 is about viral awareness, dynamic user generated content, collaborating with current and potential clients through social networks and allowing them to buy when they are ready versus selling them.   In this buyers market of the foreseeable future, the customer really has the control and won’t be pushed. 

This doesn’t mean that hotels sales people shouldn’t prospect and use the 3.0 tools to ensure that they are making the clients they want aware of them and presenting the property as a solution to a client’s needs.    This also doesn’t mean that sales people shouldn’t be connecting with the appropriate contacts at the companies and organizations that they have targeted.
Here are a few ways to use technology and 3.0 to prospect and get onto the client’s radar so the hotel is where the client can find you when they are ready to buy:

Connect the ‘dots’.  
Review the internal reports and the client database to find the specific industries and stock market sectors that your clients represent.   Tap into overall market data to see which sectors and companies within those sectors are performing well.  Search for those companies in those industry sectors within your market or territory to find new companies like the ones that are already using you – if those companies that are using you find value in your product why wouldn’t other companies/organizations like them find value as well. 

How did your current clients find you and make contact? 
Research those clients that you would like to duplicate – did they first contact you, was the first contact the result of an RFP, did they meet you at a function, did you approach them?   This will tell you how to approach a potential new client. If you don’t know the answer, ask your existing clients.

Research new prospects and contacts on social networks. 
LinkedIn has particularly robust functionality in this area.  Search for company/organization.  The result usually will tell you volumes about the company/organization and list of contacts that are on LinkedIn.  If the contact you are interested in is on the list log onto their profile and research them.  If you belong to social network, this info is free. Bonus!

Using networks, both social and other communities, to create awareness.  
Who do you know that the targeted contact may know? In a social network setting, do you have someone in your network that is also in your target contact’s network?  Does your target contact participate in ‘groups’ that you can join?  In your local professional communities, is there someone that you know that can refer or introduce you to the targeted contact?  This can be as simple as the local chamber of commerce or their shared industry association in the local area.

Tipping points in the selection process.  
Knowing why your current accounts and clients chose the hotel over the competition gives you critical information that you can use in your approaches and sales and marketing communications.   Don’t assume that you know – ask them.  Your current good accounts are your fans – maybe they will give you a referral on the social networks that you both use and even allow you to use a testimonial on the Web site and in other sales communications like e-mail to prospective clients.

Becoming the chosen one when the next meeting is being planned.  
All of the above increase your chances of being included in RFPs or being selected to bid on a future meeting.  Planners are under a great deal of pressure to assure their stakeholders that they have done their due diligence in venue selection.   This is the new wrinkle in the stage of the sales process that was called the close.  The close is no longer solely in the hands of the sales person but is a collaborative process between the planner and the sales person. 

Building and maintaining the relationship.
Gone are the days when the sales person booked the business, handed it over to conference services and pretty much disappeared.   The sales person needs to have a system of communicating with their clients going forward – that can be a periodic newsletter to client groups, blogs that are uploaded to the sales person’s profile on social networks and/or pushing out an occasional light communication on Twitter!  Use a flip camera to take videos of an event at the hotel or hotel team members doing something unique like towel sculptures on the bed.  Post it on YouTube, your social network pages and send the link to clients. Touching accounts and contacts in non-intrusive ways helps keep that person in your tribe.

The linear lock step sales process has been replaced by a more dynamic 3.0 sales process.


Carol Verret and Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service primarily but not exclusively to the hospitality industry. To find out more about the company click on www.carolverret.net.

To contact Carol send her an e-mail at carol@carolverret.com or phone (303) 618-4065. Visit www.hotelsalesblog.com.

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Contact:

Geneva Rinehart 
Managing Editor 
Hospitality Upgrade Magazine 
and the Hospitality Upgrade.com website
www.hospitalityupgrade.com/
grinehart@hospitalityupgrade.com

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Also See: Hospitality Upgrade Magazine Surveyed Hospitality Industry's Top Technology Leaders at Annual CIO Summit With Intriguing Results / October 2009

Hospitality Upgrade Magazine Reports Record-Breaking Attendance for Annual Meeting of Hospitality Industry's Top Technology Leaders; The eighth annual CIO Summit will be held September 9-11, 2009 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts / August 2009

Twitter or Not to Twitter; Time Waster or Lead Generator? / Cindy Estis Green / August 2009

Clean Up Your (Server) Room! And find some immediate cost saving hiding in plain sight / Lyle Worthington / July 2009

Marketing to the Cell Phone Generation / Bill Geoghegan / July 2009
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