Managing the entire hotel sales process is tough enough as it is. The hospitality landscape is ever evolving and with that, so are expectations and behaviours of guests and people working in events. There is way more information available, with an increase of options and a decrease in time, meaning less patience for sales teams in hotels. But don’t fret! We’re here to help! We’ll start with addressing common issues you see in your hotel sales funnels.
The most common hotel sales funnel issues and their solutions
1 – Not keeping the guest in mind
Focussing on your guests’ needs and fully understanding what their pain points are make the difference between a sales process that closes deals frequently versus a sales process that leaves much to be desired. Training your sales people to take a consultative approach to their activities will better organize their approach and cater the process to each type of customer journey. But before we move ahead with the journey, we must first look at the past.
Creating accurate guest personas based on your historical data. Your hotel CRM will contain all types of information on your guests like demographics, why and when they like to travel, and how long they like to stay. By mining this data, you’ll get a colorful picture of the potential clients that are most likely to book with you. You will still want to ask the routine questions at the beginning of the process to validate your assumptions but creating the guest persona based on the data you have will better guide your instincts and give you a head start in understanding your client’s needs.
2 – The top of the funnel is too wide
When the top of your hotel sales funnel is inundated with too many leads, your pipeline will clog up and, without a defined process on managing those leads, you’ll be spending all your time focussing on what lead to pursue instead of actually selling. The key here is to create a process to manage the top of your funnel quickly, that is easily repeatable and scalable, and appropriately prioritizes your leads. We recommend you do this by lead scoring and nurturing.
The type of criteria used for your lead scoring will, of course, vary but some general best practices that determine if a lead is well qualified are:
– A serious interest
– An immediate (or scheduled upcoming) need
– Is the decision maker and has purchasing authority
If this type of lead comes through, you should place it into your CRM pipeline immediately and prioritize the time you spend developing relationships with these leads. In comparison, leads that are vague in interest, no sense of timeline, and have no decision making power should be placed lower on your priority list and scored appropriately in your CRM.
Lastly, for those lurkers and casual browsers that will not be purchasing in the near future, put them on a separate list for nurturing. This will speed up your sales pipeline and allow your sales team to focus on well-qualified leads while your marketing team warms up low priority leads.
3 – A disorganized sales process
It is best practice to develop a sales process that is clearly defined, repeatable, and scalable. The sales cycle should typically follow your common guest personas buying cycle and reflect their pace. However, being too flexible and letting the customer dictate the journey too much at their own free will leave you with too many variables and unknowns that create a lack of understanding of your goals in each stage of the sales cycle.
As your prospect progresses through the hotel sales funnel, you should see an incremental increase in commitment from your lead. They should naturally offer things like information about their needs and organization, contact information, introducing you to other key members of their team, and giving insights on the core objections that you’ll need to overcome. By incorporating the process of asking for this additional information at the appropriate time during the sales journey, info-sharing organically becomes a part of the relationship.
Staying consistent with your sales processes depends on the communication of the team. Having consistent meetings and communication with your team and cross functional members will align the expectation and address areas of opportunity.
4 – Not fully utilizing your CRM’s data
Your hotel CRM software has a wealth of features like keeping track of your sales processes, streamlining actions and communication between team members, and automating tasks and workflows to name a few. However, many people are neglecting the reporting capabilities within their CRM and that’s an issue.
Mining these reports for data will drive your sales and performance because it will show your results from week to week, month to month, year to year. This data can be used to validate projections, show you emerging trends, and help you make informed decisions on what to double down on. Different members of your team, from managers to frontline sales people, should understand want reports to focus on so they can use this data as an indicator of performance and productivity.
Incorporating reports as a part of your processes will align your team and get buy-in. Try sending out weekly reports at the beginning of the week and have teams touch base on them during their recurring meetings. This will encourage regular collaboration and make reports a reliable resource for your team, ensuring transparency at all levels of the sales process.
5 – Spending time on admin, instead of selling
Ah, we’re in the age where most things can be automated so are you fully using this feature in your CRM? Creating the right workflows and automations in your CRM will free up your sales staff to focus on high value tasks like actually being on calls, building relationships, and prospecting, instead of arduous time consuming tasks like lead scoring or nurturing. Both these tasks, for example, are extremely easy to automate and saves a lot of time.
With any system you’re building, make sure to do routine audits of your sales processes to measure your results, then refine by identifying areas of opportunity and areas to optimize.
6 – Undefined goal setting and execution
With any inputs in the hotel sales funnel, it’s important to set goals for the desired outcome of each input. For example, during each sales call – what are you trying to achieve by the end of call? What is your plan during that call to achieve that goal?
By having a clear objective, your sales rep is able to take a consultative approach with their prospect by providing transparency so everyone is on the same page. This builds trust and credibility and also gives structure to the meeting so the conversation doesn’t get derailed. Defining goals also increases the collaboration between the salesperson and prospect and as we stated in number 1, fully understanding the client is one of the most important aspects of the sales process.
Pro tip: Always validate at the end of the meeting if the objective was met and set up follow up actions or goals for the next meeting. Your prospective client should always leave feeling like they have a good idea what to expect in the next phase of the process.
After reading this list, you’ll notice that most of the issues you may have with your hotel sales funnel do not require huge changes, but once addressed, have big impacts. Review your current processes and systems and see what areas of opportunity you’d like to focus on first. Remember, avoid too many changes at once as to not disrupt your team’s workflow. Pick one and get really good at it before you tackle another. Lastly, ensure your team is aligned every step of the way to ensure maximum buy-in.