Have you ever considered utilizing hotel sales strategy that involves your GMs?
We all know that the Corona Virus is severely impacting our industry right now. As a result, competition is at an all time high as supply for guest rooms is outstripping demand like never before. As more hotels are fighting to win over the same guests, a pro-active sales effort is more important now than ever. But with hotels facing cutbacks on staff, it seems nearly impossible to fund a sales effort. In this article, we’ll show you that there is a way to win using the staff and resources you already have. We’ll show you how your GMs might just be your hidden sales force. There could be a massive opportunity here for you if you take advantage of it.
Many Hotels Don’t Do Any Sales
Let’s face it, a lot of hotels aren’t doing sales. Select service and limited service hotels, as well as extended stay properties often have no sales team locally or even regionally. They may have a very small corporate sales team at the management company head office, or selling for all properties remotely, if at all. Many hotels consider themselves too small to do sales prospecting or account management. They’ve never invested in it before and they don’t believe they can afford it. But what if you could get your GMs selling?
How Your GMs Can Help
General Managers have so many responsibilities and aren’t trained salespeople, so they are often overlooked as part of the sales force. But the biggest and best hotel management groups are already utilizing their GMs as part of their extended sales team and you can too. We aren’t arguing that sales should become the main focus of their job, or that they have an extra day a week to go out and sell. We also don’t think you should train your GMs too much on sales. Instead, we believe that there is a simple, fast, and effective way to enlist them in helping your properties drive occupancy and RevPAR.
The GM-Based Sales Process
We recommend that your GMs spend four or five hours a week out in the field prospecting. That’s 10% of their time, or one half day. They can even split it into two separate days if needed. Teach them to prospect for new business and provide them with a simple list of market segments to target and lists of questions. We recommend that you do not track their sales performance at all, instead track their sales activities and reward consistent activities instead of results. Make it fun and social by having a bi-weekly group call with your central sales leadership and all of the other GMs. Incentivize them with prizes and build a culture around sales.
Types Of Sales Activities For GMs
We recommend that you provide GMs with a list of market segments to target and prepare ten or so questions for them to rehearse and ask. We recommend creating a different list of questions for each core business segment they will be introducing themselves to. In terms of sales activities, we recommend giving them points each time they drop off a business card, build an account profile, obtain a business card, or get a lead over the phone or email that they send to your corporate office. We also recommend training them on a few simple qualifying questions so that they understand what makes a prospect a good lead, versus a cold lead. Give more points for good leads and prospects that meet your qualifying criteria. Keep their activities simple, small and manageable and go over the basics over and over together. Address various situations and questions together during the bi-weekly call and send out the notes after so everyone can benefit from each other’s experiences out in the field.
Tracking Data And The Hand Off
We also recommend that you equip your team with a very simple, mobile sales CRM. You can find an example here. The right sales CRM should be based on a mobile app that the GM can just download to their phone and take with them out in the field. All it needs to do is track their sales activities and help them log accounts and contacts that can be sent to head office. The GMs should only need to focus on executing their tasks, asking the write questions and logging them on their phone. Nothing more. Keep it simple and fun and reward them for their sales activity in a way that is social, engaging and builds community. Show them how they have the direct power to help your hotel succeed and that you will hold them accountable to their sales activities and this strategy will start to pay off.
We also recommend that the GMs do not handle the sales process itself, especially at first. Just have them focussing on doing the right sales activities related to prospecting and keep it very simple, quick, easy and fun. Instead, train the GMs to take any qualified leads and email them to the corporate sales team. Your corporate office can manage the actual warm leads and send out proposals, agreements etc. The GMs simple log their activities, accounts, contacts and leads. Again, the GM is only responsible and rewarded for their sales activities, not the actual sales. By sending leads to corporate office, you ensure the leads are followed up with and that responses and proposals are consistent, quick and professional.
The Bigger Opportunity
Your corporate office will handle all contract negotiation, proposals and even sales action planning with the revenue management team. This makes the process of engaging your GMs in the sales process relatively simple as the most complex parts of your sales cycle will remain the responsibility of your corporate team. Your GM can focus on building personal connections and then maintaining them once guests are on property. Their job is to find, create, build and grow the local relationship. But your corporate office will gain another massive advantage through utilizing this strategy. They will now have all of the hotel’s leads, prospects, contacts and accounts in a central database and they can begin to look for cross selling opportunities throughout the group.
What Do You Have To Lose?
The best part of this plan is that it is relatively simple and low-risk to execute. There is nothing new for the GM to learn and no real costs outside of a simple mobile app. It’s very easy for corporate to see and log activity and with an increased number of leads, there is a high chance that you will uncover additional opportunities. This strategy effectively turns your existing GMs at your properties into a sales force that helps not just their hotel, but your entire management group. Utilizing a sales strategy like this empowers you and your team and makes the hotels success the responsibility of everyone. Further, it’s a low cost, high impact way to increase revenue using the staff you already have. It involves creating a plan, identifying key targets, taking action, rewarding activity over results and remaining consistent and engaged.
Overview Of This Plan
Hotels need a proactive sales strategy now more than ever. Competition in our industry is fierce and will remain so until demand matches back with supply. As a result, sales is more important than ever.
- Teach your GMs to prospect
- 4-5 hours each week get them out in the field
- Prep them with lists of questions
- Incentivize their activity – not their results
- Make it fun
- Dropping off a business card can be one activity type
- Or doing a drop in, then creating an account profile with the answers to 5 questions can be another
- They get points for each activity and they win prizes
- Keep the activity small and manageable
- Do weekly or biweekly calls or zooms with them and go over any issues, concerns or hesitations they are having
- Celebrate and reward GMs for their activities
- Centralize everything but prospecting at your corporate sales office
- Every hotel can utilize this strategy – even if you don’t have groups, you should still be prospecting for corporate rate agreements
What Do You Think?
Would you be open to have your GMs help with sales prospecting? Why or why not?
Can sales help your hotel?
We’d love to hear more in the comments.
To learn more about our mobile sales CRM, click here.