Selling To Customers During Sensitive Times
While most meetings and group travel have been halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that hotel sales professionals continue to reach out to clients. You don’t want to come off as insensitive, but proactive sales are crucial and should be themed in a manner of “what can I do to help you” versus communicating your “typical sales pitch.”
I’m okay. Are you okay?
It is still okay to prospect and make sales phone calls. It doesn’t mean you are uncaring or greedy, it means you are a sales professional and invested in the success of your hotel. How you conduct yourself on calls, the scripts that you use, and the tonality of caring in your voice will determine if you are a trusted advisor to your clients. Trust and kindness, as well as our hospitality attitude will be a key factor in the selling process.
General Managers and Sales Managers should work together to craft messages (if they have not already done so), making sure that they are fully representative of the situation in your community and state, and then determining what companies are the right fit for proactive sales activity. Make lists of the encouraging words and positive phraseology you want to use in conversations and correspondence, and try not to use words that incite panic or anger. Remember, you are not going to be “pitching” anything on these calls – simply checking in with clients, showing empathy, and then discovering if the companies want and need your help in planning for the future. First and foremost is that you continue to develop and nurture the relationship between you and your clients.
There is more to be done in today’s selling arena than just responding to generic leads.
The work your sales team does today will determine how quickly your hotel recovers.
We must try to mitigate the effects of the pandemic by claiming as much of the shrinking market share your hotel can capture. This can be done by doing a better job than your competition, being able to handle cancellations and terms of new bookings with authority, and sensitively finding the travelers who must travel. This is your first priority. Carefully taking care of sensitive travel situations NOW will pave the way for FUTURE bookings.
Regardless of what the demand for rooms is like in your market, you must do a better job of capturing available business than your competitive set. Maybe it isn’t all sleeping rooms…. maybe your meeting room, restaurant, and or catering opportunities will be a better fit for today’s bookers! Think outside the box and try to create the best opportunities for your area.
Selling during this timeframe also means we need to follow local, regional, state and federal travel guidelines. Ensure that you are knowledgeable of these guidelines and that when you approach a client, they understand that you will have to abide by these rules. For example, if you find a client who needs to have a meeting for 30 people and your state does not permit gatherings of more than 10 people, then you cannot host this meeting. However, it doesn’t mean that your client cannot have 3 meetings of 10 (for the price of 1 if they are held on the same day) or utilize your teleconference equipment to host the meeting virtually. Think outside the box and adapt to the new normal.
Use your cell phone’s video chat feature, Zoom, WebEx, or Skype for sales calls.
What a great time to show clients your smiling face and caring demeanor. Make sure you set these call appointments up in advance as you don’t want to “catch” your client unprepared. Email them in advance and schedule time to chat.
Devote time to the fundamentals of selling and setting yourself up for success. Have brochures, pictures and information at your fingertips to show your client. Set your phone up on a desktop tripod (and test the call) so that you can sit back and talk naturally without wiggling and jiggling the phone. There is nothing worse than video chatting someone and all they see is “up your nose” or “multiple chins”. Find a flattering angle for your camera to capture YOU! Use your meeting room or lobby as a backdrop if your office or home office is not private (and clean/organized) for the call. Make sure the room is well lit and pleasing – not too bright to oversaturate the lens of the camera or webcam. Use the natural light from windows to shine on your face…. don’t aim the camera into a bright window.
Most importantly, have notes for your call. You don’t want to ramble and spend too much of your client’s valuable time on topics unrelated to their business. Everyone is concerned about staying safe, doing the right thing, economics, budget, finances and getting back to normal. Stay as positive and upbeat as you can without sounding frivolous.
Cost considerations are real but if you discount too much now it will take longer for your hotel to bounce back. Do your research and know what your market will bear while simultaneously taking care of your most valuable customers. Price yourself competitively and fairly but keep profitability in mind.
As always, the GRAM team is here for you. I am only a phone call away and am willing to work with you on scripting and brainstorming strategy. Give me a call and test your video sales call prowess. I promise I won’t be wearing pajamas on this end!
Happy getting back to the new normal!