By Doug Kennedy
As hotels bring their sales teams online, sales managers have plenty of work to keep them busy with managing date changes for previously booked groups and events, yet the most vital task is to bring in new business. Meanwhile, the previously reliable flood of inbound RFP’s has slowed to a trickle, so the hotel sales culture needs to make a major pivot from “sales fishing” to “sales hunting.” During the last 10+ years of growth in demand, most hotel sales teams could drop their digital “bait” into a river filled with hungry “fish” and then reel-in new business. Now it is time to strap-on orange vests and go out into the vast forest landscape to hunt down new business, as I have addressed in a previous post.
From what I’m hearing, attempts at sales hunting have so far been limited to falling-back on techniques that have worked in the past, such as generic emailing and quota-based cold calling. I do see some attempts at innovation, such as the recent practice of sending out LinkedIn InMail Marketing messages. However, if these are generic, not personalized, they will annoy more than entice.
Therefore, sales leaders at the hotel, corporate, and brand levels need to recognize what a huge shift in sales habits that sales hunting requires, and then provide training that will ensure success. One major area of focus right now should be on helping sales managers develop skills for selling remotely.
Even in the pre-COVID-19 era, hotel sales conversations were already happening mostly via remote mediums such as email correspondence and in-app messaging. Now, whatever travel trade shows, planner meet-ups, association conferences, and networking events that have not been canceled have gone virtual. Even social group and event planners are cutting back on in-person visits and moving to virtual.
Suddenly, hotel sales managers must use tools for remote, online engagement which most have little experience using. As we at KTN roll-out training on this subject, we find that most hotel sales managers struggle with even the very basics, such as scheduling and then running an online meeting. When role-playing remote sales presentations, we find many salespeople fumble around with sharing the correct windows, organizing their presentations, and that most salespeople are uncomfortable being on webcam.
Following are a few of the training tips from KTN’s private, live webcam training and coaching packages for helping your hotel sales managers develop their skills for selling remotely. Readers can also email me directly for a complimentary copy of my “15 Best Practices For Remote Hotel Sales, Circa 2021.”
- Use online appointment scheduling tools to make it easy for prospects to commit to a date and time.
- Create an outline of your presentation so you can convey value and not just sell meeting space and rooms.
- Set-up role-playing sessions that will allow you to practice selling virtually.
- ALWAYS turn on your webcam to personalize the conversation. Start meetings with “webcam only” so they can see authentic smiles before you share your screen.
- Use personalized video emails to send short messages that will put the “people parts” back in hotel sales.