Doing prep work and keeping sales targets’ needs in mind can help generate more success with outbound sales calls.
When I’m not on the road conducting hospitality sales and guest service training, I can generally be found at our KTN main office selling training, which provides my own sort of laboratory for testing sales tactics that I advocate for. As a business owner, my phone and email are readily available, so I find myself being targeted by salespeople on a regular basis, providing further sales insights. The following are six simple outbound hotel sales tips.
1. Research before reaching out
No one is going to be thrilled to have their workday interrupted by an unexpected phone call, email or private IM on LinkedIn. However, most people will at least politely listen to or read brief sales messaging if it is relevant and personalized. Too often, though, people are using generic spammy-sounding messaging in conversations or in voicemail messages, emails and IMs.
Researching prospects is so much more efficient these days. Good salespeople always first research their “sales suspects” to find out if they are “prospects.” At minimum, visit a prospect’s website, but even better, drill down into Google search results by doing a Boolean search on the name of a prospective organization and adding in, one at a time, words such as “meeting” and “conference.” Check out profiles on LinkedIn, where many list details on their company as well as their job function. Some hotels also subscribe to ZoomInfo. Ideally, hotel sales leaders will have provided sellers with access to Knowland’s subscription based platform, allowing them to reference specific group histories, sound better informed and therefore do “warm calling” vs. “cold calling.”
When I speak with meeting planners, one of their top complaints is being solicited by hotels they would never use, due to geographical limitations, number of rooms, function space and classification. Similarly, as a business owner, I often receive solicitations about how some new tech gizmo is going to help “my hotel,” or improve service for “my hotel guests.” Considering the name of my company specifically indicates that KTN is are not a hotel, this seems grossly incompetent.
2. Contextualize and personalize sales messaging
Use whatever unique details you can identify in the research stage to show up front that you have done your homework. If you have researched thoroughly, you should be able to reference locations and dates of previous meetings and events.
At minimum, in the opening remarks of conversations and emails, mention the company’s name and something specific about how you think you can bring value. When sending correspondence, add the prospect’s logos and perhaps even color scheme and font onto cover pages of any supportive documents sent as PDFs or e-proposals.
3. Make quick, simple introductions
When phoning, immediately introduce yourself and humbly ask for assistance before beginning any small talk such as “Hello, how are you today? Is this a good time?” Immediately state your name, title, the hotel’s name and the reason for your call. Rather than boasting that your hotel’s guestrooms or restaurant was just renovated, simply confirm that they are a prospect, and if so, ask them to consider you or to direct you to the correct contact for proper consideration. Unless it is a rare situation where someone is actually open to speaking further, save all the in-depth investigative questioning and benefit selling for the next conversation when one is scheduled.
4. Be persistent but not pushy
Prospects will always respect a salesperson who follows up persistently in a timely basis, so long as they are not so aggressive as to be annoying. To find that sweet spot in between, pay attention to the cadence of follow up.
Here are general recommendations:
- If you can find a phone number, a phone call is always a terrific first step. Chances are you will reach voicemail, but leaving a short, succinct message in a professional, friendly tone provides an enticing first impression. If you cannot locate a phone number, skip ahead to emailing.
- Next, about one or two days later, follow up the voicemail with a personalized email that simply references “A quick note to follow up on the voicemail…”
- Reach out again in another two to three days, then one final time one to two weeks after that.
- Vary the medium used in order to hit on the one that works best for each individual prospect and so as not to seem annoying by filling up a voicemail box or email inbox.
- If possible, send a connection request on Linkedin. If the prospect is a second- or third-degree connection, you should be able to do so even with the free subscription. I realize that LinkedIn Premium subscriptions can be expensive, but those who use it consistently will surely see a return on investment.
5. Never, ever throw guilt at prospects
Never remind prospects how many times you have called or emailed. Never say “Since I’ve not heard back from you yet…” or imply that they owe you a response whatsoever. Instead, just say you are “following up on your previous correspondence,” and that you would “appreciate a chance to discover more about their meetings and events. You can also add something such as “If this is not of interest, just let me know!”
6. Sincerely thank prospects when rejected
When a prospect returns a call or clicks back a note to reject your offer, respond with a note of gratitude for their consideration to properly close the loop. This will provide a positive lasting impression should their organization’s needs change or should they run into others in their network who might be potential referrals.
Doug Kennedy is president of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of hotel sales, guest service, reservations and front desk training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Kennedy has been a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations for more than two decades. Since 1996, Kennedy’s monthly training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hospitality industry authorities. Visit KTN at www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com or email him directly at email@example.com. He is the author of “So You REALLY Like Working With People? - Five Principles for Hospitality Excellence.”
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