Sharpening Your Sales Skills: Getting Back To Your Fighting Weight
Have your sales skills waned over the past months? Have you lost your edge? It’s no wonder… and certainly not your fault. You’ve been busy working the front desk, helping out with breakfast, making beds and cleaning public spaces AND handling your sales responsibilities too! You are a team player and we thank you for helping us hold together hotel operations during this pandemic.
The good news is that some of our hotels are in a good position and are ready to kickstart sales and start looking for new business and share-shifting business from our competition. We are primed and ready to do so, but there is that little flutter in our stomachs as we reach for the phone to make that first call. Will there be a customer at the other end of the phone? What do we say to them? How do we pick up where we left off before the world took a pause?
Inactivity breeds stale air. We all just need to take a deep breath and go back to basics. Get out your Sales & Marketing Plan. Dust off your Sales Strategy documents. Get out your cheat sheets, sales scripts and ‘if this, then that’ lists. Pull out your trace calendar and sales files and familiarize yourself with your daily activities prior to March, 2020. Practice your sales pitches to family, friends, and co-workers!
We need to go back to basics and refresh our memories on what if feels like to be a salesperson.
Photo courtesy of Myriam Zilles – Pixabay.
I read an interesting article today about ‘rebuilding sales teams for success’. The overall thought was that it would be counter-productive to keep reminding ourselves of the plummeting occupancies and evaporating revenues caused by stay-at-home orders. Many of our colleagues, both in the hotel and at the brand level, were forced to furlough essential staff to preserve our operating expenses until this situation had passed. We cannot allow these necessary strategies to straight-jacket us. As sales people, we need to dig deep into our ‘glass-half-full’ mentalities now that indicators are starting to show that business is returning, albeit slowly-but-surely.
Lets be honest with ourselves: we need to step on the gas now. Pumping the breaks is no longer an option. Gone are the days when business was plentiful and inbound leads allowed us to become order takers. We now must all be hunters and that means sharpening our sales skills and getting out in the market to find business.
Rest assured, if you are not (or have not been) asking yourselves these questions, your owners and managers will be asking them:
- Have you readjusted your sales focus to make sure you are targeting the right segments of business?
- Have you neglected business relationships in favor of auto-responses, and waiting for the phone to ring?
- Have you procrastinated in reaching out to customers and markets ‘waiting for the right time’ and now find that you might be behind the 8 ball?
- Have you wasted valuable selling time by not keeping in ‘compassionate’ touch with your clients?
- Have you created the tools you need to sell to a recovering market? (30- and 60- second elevator pitch, recorded and video sales messaging, sales kit and collateral describing the safety protocols and commitments to guests that the hotel is practicing safe and sanitary guidelines….)
- What is your sales plan for August, September and October? How are you going to resurrect the business for your hotel?
Are you the right person for the job?
Here are a few sales skills that you need to make sure that you have in your sales arsenal:
- Segmentation: What markets will recover first? Traditionally, after a recession or disaster, corporate and government recover first and association, social, military, education, religious, and fraternal business recovers last. Can you sell to these segments? Make sure you have sharpened your sales skills to sell to these critical segments and hunt efficiently.
- Cluster Selling: Some ownership/management groups may want to cluster selling geographically. Hunters may take responsibility for multiple markets that are relatively close geographically allowing other on-property staff to handle incoming “orders”.
- Catering Sales: Make sure you are using your strongest catering sales people to hunt and book. Most Catering Sales Managers are both bookers and cookers and if they have to stop looking for business in order to service the groups, then they are stepping out of the sales pocket and losing momentum. Is there someone on your team that can take the group and “cook” it?
- The Devil In The Details: Corporate customers may be less demanding, but they are more exacting. Larger groups are easier to facilitate than several simultaneous small groups with different details. Make sure you have good ringmasters available so that groups are happy.
Business as usual? Or, Business as unusual?
Getting back to basics with sharp sales skills is your first step to recovery. Identify your key accounts, make sure you have your tool box full, and get out (if safe) or on the phone (if not safe) and start dialing for dollars. People do business with people they know and like. Groups and businesses are starting to book – but they are most likely booking with hotels they know and with people they like. After every downturn in the last 20 years, recovery started locally. If you don’t have strong relationships with customers, you are not likely to get their business.
What you do today will determine how quickly your hotel can bounce back. Make sure you are ready, willing and able, and that your sales skills are honed and ready.