By Doug Kennedy
It is eerily silent in most sales offices these days. Whereas in the past the halls echoed with telephone conversations between sales managers and group or function planners, these days the only sounds you’ll hear are the clicking of fingers on a computer keypad.
Nowadays, most leads are arriving via various “silent” channels. These include direct website RFP’s, leads forwarded from regional brand offices, app notifications coming in from lead generation platforms such as CVENT, The Knot/Wedding Wire, or digital notifications from the local CVB or DMO.
Likewise, most salespeople respond silently by emailing standard proposal templates with minimal customization, or by pasting in the text of templated responses into the app or platform. Few reach out by phone, either believing that “if the planner wanted to talk, they would have called us first” or out of a desperate attempt to keep up with what feels like an overwhelming amount of “lead spam.”
Closing rates, if they are being measured at all, are historically low. Based on what I see when conducting on-site “sales process assessments” for my hotel sales consulting clients, most salespeople do little or no follow-up after the initial response; those who do follow-up simply send another email or in-app message.
As I often say in my sales training workshops and conference speaking presentations:
“If you want to get as much business as everyone else gets, then do the same things that everyone else does.”
That is the formula for obtaining your hotel’s “market share.” Are you happy with market share? Will obtaining market share help you achieve your annual sales goals for the coming year?
So what can we do to stand out? Frequent readers who follow my sales training articles published here know that I often train on the concept of “tech and touch”; which is to blend the “people” part with a diligent, relentless follow-up cadence.
This training article will now focus solely on how to use what I think is the single most exciting “tech to touch” method of standing out in the era of silent sales, which is to send personalized, one-on-one video emails.
The keywords here are “personalized” and “one-on-one.” I am NOT talking about forwarding links to slick, professionally made video promos, nor to send standardized “canned” video messages. While those can be effective tools for mass-marketing, I am speaking of a completely different concept for direct sales.
So far, I have identified just two online apps/tools that enable this sales tactic. As I always avoid endorsing any providers in my training articles, I will simply suggest that you insert these three words in a Google search: “Video Personalized Email,” and the top two ads are an exact match. (Other companies come up in the search only provide tools for mass market video emails.) Both can be used either on a desktop or via a smartphone app that you can use on-location at your hotel. The best way to see how video email looks to the recipient is to receive one directly, which is why I am hereby committing to personally sending a sample video email to all readers who ask me for one. [email protected]
While these services to have a monthly subscription fee per user, one monthly user account can be shared by an entire sales team, and the same account can also be used by other departments such as front desk staff who can welcome VIP’s and high-status loyalty members prior to their arrival. (The trick is to self-send the video email, then each salesperson can forward it on from their own email accounts.”
Following are six easy ways in which video email can be used specifically by hotel sales and catering sales executives:
- Responding to the initial inquiry: Put a “face” with your name and make authentic connections by sending a personalized video email in response to all “qualified” inquiries. Speak directly to the planner. Show their name on a whiteboard or drop their name and logo onto a PowerPoint slide, projected on a TV in your hotel’s boardroom. (Both are demonstrated in the sample I will send you.) If no email is available, such as if the sender inquired via an app, you can paste the link into a text message.)
- Following up after the initial quote or proposal. Are your prospects “ghosting” you after the proposal is sent? If so, sending a personalized video email will elicit more responses.
- Sending a message that can be forwarded to decision-makers. If your prospect indicates that they will be forwarding the information specifically to others, greet those “others” in a video email. This is a great time to bring into the video message your Director of Sales, Rooms Manager or perhaps even a GM to express your hotel’s commitment to servicing their needs.
- Touching base after a site visit. For those who do still visit prior to site selection, a short follow-up video email helps solidify a connection.
- Handing off the buyer to your support staff. For those who work at larger properties with dedicated staff to detail meetings and events, sending a personalized video email while standing next to your conference services or wedding coordinator and introducing them is a great way to re-direct those who have already bought.
- Post-event cross-selling. Savvy salespeople always trace their contacts out for a referral request after successful events. Sending a video email asking for introductions to specific contacts within their organization is a great way to elicit actions.
There are so many more ways a hotel sales team can use video email that we cover during my on-site “tech to touch” sales training workshops, but the above list offers easy ways to get in the game and to move our industry past the era of “silent sales.”