By Doug Kennedy
Now that 2020 is winding down and the preliminary vaccine results are favorable, it is time for hotel salespeople to recommit to put on their orange vests and embrace their role as sales hunters. In previous articles for this publication I have spoken about the transition from Sales Fishing to Sales Hunting, the Habitudes of Sales Success, and how salespeople can master their Remote Sales Skills. Here are four additional specific sales tips.
Send personalized sales emails. Too many hotel salespeople seem to be relying on mass audience email blasts for prospecting. I would consider this as more of a “marketing” task vs. direct sales. If you are going to do email blasts, make sure you use the mail merge “tag” options to fill-in specifics such as their name, organization, geographic location, etc…, but again that is just personalized marketing and not selling. To prospect effectively, send personalized sales emails individually. For one, this will help them avoid the junk mail folders of major corporations where too many mass email campaigns end up. More importantly, it will increase the chances of grabbing the attention of the recipient. It is fine to use a few different templates for each segment of clientele and for each category of prospect, such as events, business/corporate travel, tour companies, and meeting planners. However, be sure to type out a few personalized sentences at the start to make it feel authentic to the target.
Send personalized LinkedIn messages. Similarly, when prospecting on LinkedIn and other b-2-b social media platforms, it is even more important to send highly personalized IM’s and not just to do paid Inbox messages to mass audiences. Most of those who I know on the buyer’s side of the hotel business are highly turned off by generic IM’s. Personally, I tend to remove the connection with any vendor reps who send these as I do not like the use of LinkedIn to “spam” people. Make sure your IM’s speak directly to the person’s company or organization’s needs in order to show that you did your homework and are worthy of a response.
Telephone cold calling. From what I hear, most people these days do not pick-up calls from unknown numbers, as they think it is going to be yet another caller trying to sell them an extended warranty for a vehicle they no longer have or else the IRS Representative calling for your SS# and banking details in order for them to send you an unexpected refund. Therefore, today’s salespeople had better be good at leaving warmly inviting voicemails. On the rare occasions when someone picks up the call, it is likewise important to get avoid annoying them and to get straight to the point. Here are some tips:
If You Reach Voicemail:
- Speak slowly and clearly in your best version of an FM Radio DJ voice.
- Greet them by name, immediately offer your name and hotel name, and your reason for call.
- Do not say “I’m just reaching out to see if you have any business…” Instead, be more specific such as: “We had previously been in touch with your company/organization about (group, BT, event or whatever it was) and now I am hoping you can assist me reaching the right contacts to pursue your meeting/event/business again this year.”
If You Reach A Live Person:
- Do not annoy them by saying: “Is this Mr. Johnson? How are you today? Is this a good time?”
- Instead get right to the point of your call and say: “Good afternoon Mr. Johnson…” (Most people answer their calls directly these days unless it is obvious that there is a receptionist at the switchboard.) “…My name is Douglas from Brand X Hotel. Last year we had the opportunity to host your company/organization’s (event, meeting, or frequent travelers). I’m hoping you can assist me in reaching the right contacts to pursue your meeting/event/business again this year.”
Or if calling a new prospect say “I had noticed that your company had previously had a meeting at another nearby hotel last year, so I’m hoping you can assist me in reaching the right contacts so we can pursue your future business…”
Calls and emails to reach-out to current clients. During the early days of the pandemic, I was a huge advocate of doing what I call “welfare checks” on your key clients just to see how they and their families are doing during this stressful period. Now many months later, smart hotel salespeople have already made that call or sent that email. Likewise, most salespeople have also conveyed messages about the latest COVID-19 protocols in place at their hotel brand, and with all brands having similar protocols, this is no longer a point of differentiation for buyers.
Instead, now is the time to reach out with optimism about the coming new year cycle. When prospecting for meetings or events, mention that things have been picking up and that you have successfully hosted X number of groups, events these past few months and that your staff has really gotten all the kinks worked out. If you have photos of socially distanced events and meetings, those are wonderful to include in emails.