I have met some pretty terrific sales people in my life… professional, conversant, smart, savvy, good listeners, people who know what to say and how to say it in every instance, and understand the premise of sales. These terrific sales people always know their product, believe in their product, and sell it for the right price.
Not every one of these sales people started their careers (or tenure with our company) being terrific. In fact, many of them have grown into the people they are today by working hard, continuing their education, keeping up with industry changes, and calling on leaders who inspire them to guide their journey.
Searching for the right sales personality for a hotel property is one of my duties. It is my job to explore not only the sales skills of a candidate by asking for specific examples of past performance, but to also listen to that person and the way they carry themselves in order to anticipate how they will fit in to the current staffing dynamic and how they react to specific trigger words. One of my favorite interviews was with a prospective sales manager who, when asked to describe their sales personality to me, hit the motherlode of all responses by saying (and I’ll never forget it),
“Sales is not falling back on rate. Sales is having the confidence
to sell your product for a fair price by using features and
benefits to support that price. Fallback is always the very last option.”
At that moment, I thought I had gone to sales heaven! Here was a candidate, without much true hotel sales experience, who had fully grasped what many had failed to learn after many years in the field! (Yes, I hired that person. And yes, they were very successful.)
When you start to get resistance from a group planner, what do you do? Do you simply cave and give in? You’d be surprised at how some seasoned sales persons react when faced with resistance: “Well, they told me the other hotel they called had a lower price so I lowered my price to get the business.” Yes, sometimes fall back is necessary – but is it your first reaction? Do you let the customer dictate your pricing and salesmanship? Have you followed the steps of service before you simply lower rate?
Let’s consider the scenario: “ABC Hotel Offered Me $10 Per Night Less.” Start by asking questions. “What is it about ABC Hotel that you like? Is there a particular feature or service they offer that might make the difference in your choosing them versus us?” Listen and react/sell your hotel appropriately. “I’m on a budget” might be the biggest factor. So why not offer the group options? Are your king rooms priced lower than doubles? Offer them a different room type as a concession to lowering rate. Are they looking for your prime weekday or weekend nights? Consider asking them to change to arriving or staying through a shoulder night. Let them know if they arrive on Sunday for a two day visit, rather than arriving on Monday or Tuesday, that you can reduce the room rate by $xx.
Sell your features and amenities and offer testimonials – “Mr. Jones, while I certainly want you to be competitively priced, I also feel like our hotel is priced fairly. I am familiar with ABC Hotel and know that they typically offer prospective clients lower prices than what our hotel offers. Just last week I met with another company who took them up on their offer and they were sorely disappointed in the end result. After recently staying in our hotel they told me that our rooms were cleaner and more comfortable, our breakfast was better, and our staff was more accommodating.
It is my experience that sometimes the difference in price is not as overwhelming as it appears and the having confidence that we won’t disappoint you outweighs the price difference. I want you to be happy and guarantee we will do everything we can to prove it to you.” (Don’t forget to take the difference in price and multiply it by the number or rooms and nights to show the price difference. $10 x 10 room x 2 days = $200 – is this worth it to the customer? Is there some middle ground? Are you willing to lose the business over $200? Keep in mind that all those $200 differences add up.)
Happy Selling Before Falling Back,