Sales and marketing teams need to be proactive in engaging their clients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s marketplace is going to require a new mindset and new approach. What’s worked in the past only worked in the past.
In an earlier piece, we took a look at one of two areas that enable the revenue teams to become more strategic and proactive: strategy.
Today, we will focus on customer engagement, discussing what we see, what the best do differently and some points that you may want to incorporate into your discussions with hotels that you own or asset-manage.
What we see
Sales teams within hospitality are selling more and more reactively. They interact with customers at the purchase phase and work with procurement, where it becomes a price-driven sale. As an industry, we have confused what proactive selling means. If you were to ask or even remember what you were taught, proactive selling meant we reached out to the customer. When you ask a customer what proactive means, it is not about who reached out first, but rather at what point in the buying journey did the salesperson become involved.
There are a few issues. First, sales and marketing teams are connecting with customers when they are at the point of purchase, rather than the point of recognition or point of inspiration. At this point, the sole goal of travel and procurement managers or administrator’s assistants is to drive down the cost. It is also coming through third-party channels and driving the cost up. Essentially, if they are competing against OTAs, they are not selling where they add value to the customer, except to decrease rate.
Second, teams are not being trained on how to sell any differently than they did in 1980, in the heyday of needs, benefits and features. On average, hospitality companies spend less than $97 dollars training employees annually. Some sales processes that are used and still taught today were designed in 1972. Lastly, sales leaders aren’t trained in relevant sales methodology. If they don’t know it, how do we expect them to coach it? If they can’t coach it, how can we expect sales teams to be more effective beyond the rates, dates and space conversation?
We also see that sales teams have one or two contacts that largely are in the transactional portion of the relationship. In a team that was focusing on a large account, they only had two contacts. Those contacts both worked in travel and one was a meeting planner.
What the best do differently
The best sales and marketing teams:
- have a sales methodology that enables sales teams to show up earlier in the buying cycle, before the purchase or transaction;
- are trained to have “beyond the box” conversations that is NOT about product;
- have leadership that knows the difference between consultative and transactional selling and can coach and drive both; and
- have account development plans that look at expanding the account market share and share of wallet.
Useful questions for optimizing customer engagement
- Ask teams to share their account development plans of those accounts that are within the segment strategy. Do they have contacts in other areas beyond meeting planners, travel and procurement?
- To sell proactively, they must understand what is happening within the account. Are they focused on events that might lead to business opportunities (e.g. A hospital is looking for funding to expand the cancer research center, does the sales team see all of the business opportunity that may be involved, such as fundraising events, architectural firms designing, etc.)?
- What is happening within their focus accounts that they expect to drive business and how they are executing on that knowledge?
- Does sales leadership help the sales team to sell consultatively and do they coach the sales teams in where they have the biggest impact—in front of the customer?
Maxine Taylor is a member and prior president of the Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA), and SVP of CHMWarnick, the leading provider of hotel asset management and owner advisory services. The company asset manages more than 70 hotels comprising approximately 29,000 rooms valued at roughly $15 billion, and currently advises on development projects valued at over $2 billion. CHMWarnick’s hotel owner advisory services include asset management, hotel planning and development, acquisition due diligence, owner-entity accounting, management/operator selection and negotiation, capital planning and disposition strategy. For more information, contact 978.522.7000 or visit www.CHMWarnick.com. For the latest company news, follow CHMWarnick on Twitter @CHMWarnick and LinkedIn.
Kate Burda is the founder of Kate Burda & Co, focused on accelerating revenue for organizations through Sales Effectiveness, Revenue Management, and Customer-Centric Marketing. Revenue optimization does not just come from Revenue Management, but all three parts of the ‘Revenue Trifecta’ (sales, marketing and revenue management) elevating their level of performance and working together. Their work within companies and organizations builds revenue strategies that are relevant in today’s economy and marketplace. Their work disrupts industries traditional thinking that creates the science and strategy focused on the Most Profitable Customer, ‘who do we hunt’. Then install the ‘how do we hunt’ with teams to elevating processes and customer engagement, whether they are in sales, revenue management, or marketing. www.kateburda.com
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