By Doug Kennedy

Based on the conversations I’m having this week with our KTN clients, it seems that hotel sales teams are finding that there’s a lull in activity right now. The flood of calls and emails regarding cancellations and postponements has abated, and most hotels are lucky to have even a trickle of RFP’s coming in from traditional channels. For most markets, being too aggressive with traditional cold-call prospecting right now might be perceived as being insensitive. As a result, salespeople might be finding themselves with far more downtime than they’ve had in years.

This phase presents the perfect opportunity for hotel sales, and catering & event salespeople to master their use of sales tools such as screen sharing, video email and webcam meetings.

In recent years, too many have devolved sales process into the era of “silent selling” in which communication was limited to email or in-app messaging. As those who have attended my conference presentations and who read my sales blogs know, I have long advocated for using a “tech for touch” approach to rehumanize the sales process. If your sales team is experiencing downtime, now is the time to use it to upskill and master how to use tech to put the “people part” back in the sales process.

If the pundits are right, the post-COVID-19 world is going to be all about personalization and embracing the human connections, so “touching” through “tech” will serve us well long after the current crisis.

Until recently, I have been finding that participants in my hotel sales training workshops have rarely, if ever, presented via online meeting tools (WebEx, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts). Now in recent weeks, suddenly everyone seems to either be using these legacy tools or even more so, the smash-hit app Zoom, while working remotely. Although most seem to be using for internal staff meetings, a few salespeople have even used these to meet with clients, which is a wonderful first step.

Downloading a new app and being brave enough to share a webcam for the first time is a good start, but smart sales leaders will reach higher.

If you have not yet used an online meeting app to host a meeting, get in the game immediately by using the free versions of Zoom or GoToMeeting. Play around with lighting and background. Experiment with “blur” and virtual background options if they are available on the app you are using. Use screen highlighter tools when giving prospects virtual tours and/or reviewing documents or contracts.

When you are reduced to being a “talking head,” interpersonal communication skills become super important, so practice with colleagues and co-workers then solicit their feedback.

Remember to engage your prospect instead of doing all the talking. With all the “silent selling” via email and in-app messaging in recent years, many salespeople have grown out of practice at their interactive communications skills, so be sure to listen reflectively.

Finally, to really stand out, try out one of the new video email apps, which are perfect for sending personal “checking on you” notes to key clients. These apps drop the video directly into the email, vs. sending a link or attachment. Once regular business resumes, video email can later be used for responding to RFP’s and for following-up on proposals. Shoot me over a quick email to receive a sample of video email: [email protected]