Anyone working in hotel sales will tell you that the industry ebbs and flows. Especially now with the current global pandemic, financial downturn, cyclical seasons and a drastic decrease in demand has greatly affected hotels and their sales teams. This makes it difficult to generate quality leads, close deals, and meet their quotas. But there are sales people that are an exception to the rule and maintain their performance despite what’s happening in the industry. These sales people explain that it’s their built in habits that allow them to remain consistent in their results, not some “secret sauce”.
Continue reading for 7 hotel sales habits to consider adding to your process to set you up for success.
1 – Instinctively listen for details
You’ve probably heard it dozens of times before but there’s a reason for it: active listening skills are one of the most important traits in a sales person and are definitely oneof the most critical hotel sales habits. To be able to “consult” with your prospects versus “telling” them what they need is critical in building a trusting relationship from the get-go. The start of your calls should always lead off with questions as you start pinpointing their needs and problems. Only once you’ve gotten a clear understanding of their situation, then can you ask qualifying questions based on that information.
Actively listening and responding also takes flexibility on your part. Catering the way you communicate, whether it be your voice, tone, tempo or pitch is also important when consulting with prospects. Each prospect you encounter is unique and should be treated that way. During your call, also note down any details mentioned by your prospect for future reference when personalizing their client journey. Customizing their proposal and adding little touches during the process will make you stand out and event planners will appreciate you catering a solution to their needs.
How to improve your listening today:
– Start your conversation with asking how they found you.
– Note their personal and company milestones in your CRM for reference later.
– After each major point in the conversation, summarize and reiterate back to your prospect to ensure you correctly understand their needs and are aligned.
– Keep tempo of the conversation and include pauses for questions and additional clarity.
– Having an outline of what you want to achieve during your call is great, but ditch the script. Let conversation flow naturally and don’t try to force it into specific points or questions.
2 – Be authentic with your share vision and values
Once you’ve built that foundation to your relationship with the prospect through attentive listening, it’s time to develop that relationship. Top sales people understand that a prospect isn’t just one sale, but can lead to many others in the form of repeat business and referrals. Turning them into a trusted referral source, and potential brand advocate in the future relies on how you nurture this relationship.
Top sales people foster relationships based on a shared vision for success along with shared values. This is more than just a few conversations over event type, group size, or purpose of the event. Try finding out what makes their group different, what their group stands for and what their mission is and focus on cultivating long lasting relationships with groups that align with your hotel’s vision, mission and brand. This is why listening is also so important. Noticing opportunities in your conversations that allow you to discuss, in depth, about common values, will develop that relationship naturally.
How to cultivate this relationship:
– Ensure to include your brand messaging, including mission, vision and values during demos and presentations and engage your prospect’s thoughts on the matter.
– Connect with your prospect on social media and pay attention to articles and updates they share and incorporate that into conversation or comment on it.
– Offer to collaborate with other members of their organization to bring their vision to life. For example, connecting with marketing and onsite staff to create a cohesive concept for the event.
3 – Automate where you can so you can optimize your time
Healthy hotel sales habits consist of you prioritizing your time on what matters most like relationship building. It’s also almost impossible to give quality attention and focus to every single lead. Most RFPs are won by the first few properties to respond. It’s an honest truth that top sales people need to prioritize their time on specific sales opportunities because they don’t have the time to personalize their approach on every single RFP and get it sent quickly.
By implementing lead scoring, this will automate this process of prioritizing the right deals to focus on while ranking the rest of the leads in terms of importance dependent on your specific criteria. Using an RFP management tool and a CRM software, you can automate many of the processes involved in the sales cycle, you can turn your attention to customers for things like identifying opportunities for upsell, for example.
How to better optimize your time:
– Creating a criteria that ensures only quality leads are passed to sales. This is usually a combination of an ‘interest score’ (how interested they are in your property) and a ‘fit score’ (how interested you are in them.
– Integrate your criteria into a lead scoring system to automate this process and free up your team’s time. Focus on asking thorough qualifying questions to further focus your list of top leads.
– Ensure your team understands the difference between ‘interest’ and ‘intent”. ‘Interest’ is someone viewing the gallery or like your social media pictures of your space. ‘Intent’ is someone viewing the pricing page or floor plan – this is much more indicative of intent to book.
4 – Prepare examples of your happiest customers
Being prepared for your sales calls is one thing but having a degree of being able to ‘roll with the punches’ are hotel sales habits top sellers have. Having clear objectives, selling points and anticipating questions are all a part of the process. But what sets you apart from the rest? Coming prepared with concrete examples of positive customer experiences and testimonials.
There’s nothing more compelling than an army of customers advocating for your brand.
You can reference reviews and case studies for your examples and incorporate them into your demonstration. More often than not, your prospect may have similar or overlapping requests or needs with previous clients so having these examples handy will give you one up.
How to prepare your sales teams:
-During sales meetings, have your team members prepare both good and bad customer stories. This will allow your team to transparently evaluate what went right, what went wrong, and how to improve as a learning activity. This way, your entire team is prepared for similar scenarios in the future should they arise.
– Have regional team members share their experiences and share that info across your own teams. There may be someone doing something amazing across the organization that you haven’t thought of yet and vice versa.
– Role playing is a great way to get the sales juices flowing and work out any kinks before execution. Especially with new team members, role playing is important to get them practicing before the actual calls so you can coach them through the process and provide feedback and on-the-spot learning.
5 – Mine your CRM
Your CRM is a goldmine of information – so use it to close sales! Top sales people integrate their technology into their hotel sales habits to leverage data, streamline communication, find missed sales opportunities to ultimately close deals. When used correctly, your CRM is a trusted tool in the sales process. It can keep track of all past communication and notes, contact information and automate your workflows. In this day and age, you want your CRM to keep up with you and free you up, not bog you down with even more tasks. With modern systems becoming more available and affordable, the selection of a system has also become easier.
How to use your CRM in the sales process:
– Ensure CRM adoption is high among your teams by leading by example. Make sure your data inputs are clean and streamlined and outline any necessary processes with your teams to ensure expectations are aligned. This way, a team member can pick up where one leaves off and all information is transparent.
– Analyze the different customer segments (demographics) and their behaviours (when they like to travel, for how long, at what budget). This allows you to make forecasts and project who is likely to book and when.
– Create email campaigns that are segmented based on your audience. This will target specific groups with appropriate offers that appeal to them and their demographic. Segments can vary on demand, season, size and event types.
6 – Consistency is key
In summary, hotel sales habits are exactly that: habits. Habits are things you practice. They become part of your processes. You won’t see results from just doing it every now and then – you need consistency. Kind of like a gym routine. You don’t go once every 2 weeks and expect a 6-pack. In the nature of sales, you’re often going to face rejections and no’s and having. You need resilience to keep going even if you get told 10 times that day. There is opportunity at every obstacle. Top sales people know that inputs lead to outputs so stick with it, turn these hotel sales habits into your process and happy closing!