While there are some people who could sell ice cubes to Eskimos, there are others that just need a bit more guidance and technique. You need to have a plan.
Every sales person – no matter what their product – needs to understand the critical fundamentals of successful selling skills. Even the ice cube sales person.
Here are some of the top selling skills that you should master:
Preparation for the sales call or visit is paramount.
Do you KNOW your own product? If not – better learn because if you don’t know what you are selling there is a problem. Develop your 60-second sales pitch. Instead of puking amenities to a potential customer and monopolizing the conversation, tell them a story highlighting the attributes and amenities of your hotel and how they would benefit their company. “In past months we have worked with companies such as ABC Company. Our modern guest rooms with separate areas for living and sleeping, work well for visitors who don’t necessarily want to lay in bed and watch TV or work on their laptop. Given that your attendees will be here for 2-3 nights at a time, it might work well for them to have a little more space to spread out when they return to the hotel.”
Learn about your prospect and your competition as much as possible. Think about a sales call like a pitcher and catcher prepare for a game. Good players know what types of pitches work well for individual batters. Don’t underestimate the requirements of preparation and research. You must learn as much as you can in advance to achieve the most productive calls. “Our hotel is located just 2.5 miles from your offices with a straight shot down main street. Given the construction over on First Street, it might make commuting between your office and the hotel a little less stressful for your travelers.”
Develop a checklist for the call.
You will impress the customer by preparing for the call. “In preparation for today’s meeting, I jotted down a few questions.” Use the information you gleaned from your research to ask relevant, pointed questions about the potential for business. “I read that your company has just been acquired by ABC Company. Do you anticipate that this will increase the amount of travel into the area from the new management?” “Do you anticipate additional meetings or training groups to be in the area who might need (a meeting room or sleeping room) accommodations?”
Make sure you have everything in your briefcase that you need for the call – sales collateral, personalized fact sheets and flyers, business calls, sales gifts, etc.
Develop an agenda/cheat sheet for the call that will keep you on track. Identify and list points you want to cover with the customer so you don’t wander too far off the sales track.
Listen and react appropriately. Listen to both what the customer is saying, and to what the customer is NOT saying. Effective listening is a very powerful tool in professional selling. Stop talking and listen. Follow up with focused, open-ended questions that will give you insight to what the customer wants and needs. “I understand that you are currently using XXX hotel for your meeting and accommodation needs. What do you and your guests like about the XXX hotel? What would you like them to do better?” After understanding what they like or dislike, you are more prepared to tailor your selling approach.
Pause and get a reaction to your pitch. Integrate questions such as, “What do you think?” “Would this work for your group?” Never continue with any sales pitch unless you receive confirmation from the prospect that they are following you and, hopefully in agreement! Autopilot is one thing – but sometimes you just need to fly the plane manually! Your objective is to ensure the customer remains engaged.
If you don’t ask for the business, the answer will always be no. If you find that your meeting has gone along swimmingly, there have been positive reactions to key points, and if there are no questions or concerns, then the time is right to move towards the close. Many people avoid asking for the sale because they do not want to face rejection. If the momentum is moving in a positive direction, then proceed. “I’d like to put together a contract for your meeting next September.” If you feel there are still obstacles to overcome, then identify what comes next. “What do we need to do to win your business at our hotel?” Take these items back to your hotel and work up a plan and then follow up with the customer in a timely manner.
Don’t forget to write up your post call notes and next steps for your files. More importantly, don’t forget to thank the customer for their time and give them all information you have promised to send.
Now go get some ice and have a nice cold beverage! You deserve it.