These include third party website optimization, review websites, SEO or even technology tools (like CRM) to help us increase the sales at our hotel.
But these discussions usually leave out the most important elements of being successful as a salesperson at a hotel.
More than technology, it’s the personal stuff that matters more
The soft skills that no one talks about are the actual key to increasing sales at a hotel. These are the things that send the message to planners that you’re hotel is a good fit for them.
So what are these soft skills?
Listed below are the ten skills that send the right signal to group planner.
Pick up your phone before it goes to voicemail
Many of us use our voice-mails as a gatekeeper but that is the worst thing we can do. Why? Because the planner is looking to talk to someone now. Picking up the phone allows you to talk to them at a time when booking their event is top of mind. They are happier having talked to you and can check this task off their list.
If you let it go to voicemail, you’ll miss this window of opportunity. And that is assuming that they leave you a voice-mail.
For those of you that insist on listening to the messages and immediately calling back a group planner, I have bad news. By the time you call them back, even if it is a minute or two after they leave you a voice-mail, they are already talking to your competitor.
Don’t underestimate the power of the smile. Smile when you see the planner in your lobby. Smile when you are on the phone. And smile when you are talking. A smile makes the person feel welcome, and they are more open to you. Considering that you are asking for someone’s business, you want them to feel comfortable giving it to you. And the best way to make a person feel comfortable is with a smile. Oh, and studies prove it too. A recent Penn State University study confirmed that when we smile we not only appear more likeable and courteous, but we’re actually perceived to be more competent.
Following up is the key to increasing your sales. Around 50% of all salespeople don’t make a second phone call after the initial sales call. They make their pitch on the first call, and if the group tells them they are not interested in booking, over half of us don’t call them back at a later date. As many of you know already, that strategy does not work well in group sales.
What studies do show is that 80 percent of all sales are booked by people who reach out to prospects at least five times. Following up shows the prospect that you are disciplined and responsible enough to keep at it. And that “I’m not gonna give up attitude” will help you sell more than any technology ever will.
Brian Tracy, a very successful sales trainer likes to say that sales is the transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another. If you do not believe in your product or if you cannot show that you are enthusiastic about your hotel then you will never be a great salesperson. Customers buy into the enthusiasm. The customer gets excited about your hotel when you act excited. They can see how much you believe in your own product and will buy into it as well.
Don’t be a drone
Much like the stormtroopers in Star Wars, you don’t want to be a corporate drone that reads off the corporate policies to customers. Let your inner personality shine through when you are selling. Remember that people buy from people they like. Be hospitable, be gregarious, be funny, be anything. Just don’t be a boring corporate drone. You won’t sell anything that way.
Go the extra mile
Always underpromise and overdeliver. Don’t ever do it any other way. If you want repeat clients and tons of referrals, live by this mantra. And if you do this long enough, you’ll have way more business than you can handle.
Ask lots of questions
Just because we have helped planners with 54 conferences does not mean that we need to finish our clients sentences, or worse, assume we know what they are looking for. When talking to a prospect, let them do all the talking, and you do all the asking. Doing so will allow the planner to tell you exactly what they want, what their objections are, and how you can solve them. Your job is to make sure to take really good notes.
Moreover, your prospect will appreciate the questions because it gives them a sense that you are truly interested in what they have to say. Don’t make the mistake of taking over the conversation so you can show you “expertise”. Doing so will bore and annoy the prospect.
Don’t make anyone wait to do business with you
We all wait in line. Whether it is at a dentist’s office or at the grocery, it is something we all do. But we all wish we did not have to.
Despite how much we don’t like waiting, we end up doing the same to our customers. Examples include responding to RFP’s a week after receiving them, and making clients wait in the lobby for fifteen minutes because we are on a break. Doing these things annoys guests. Instead, we need to be different.
When an RFP comes across your desk, make it a top priority. When a client shows up unexpectedly to the hotel, don’t make them wait. When a planner has a problem at the hotel, be the first to help them right away. Don’t make anyone wait to do business with you.
Know your product
How many of us look at cheat sheets to see how many we can fit in one of meeting rooms. Some of us have not been to an overnight room in over a year so we don’t even know what the new XYZ in the room looks like. Rather than winging it, we need to be better informed about your hotel and our area in general.
Know how many meeting rooms you have and what kind of setups you can accommodate. Know the best places to eat, the best things to do, and your competitors strengths and weaknesses too. Being informed helps your customer feel more comfortable about doing business with you. They feel like you’ve done this before and know what you are doing.
Greet your guests
This is more about etiquette but it is important nonetheless. Many sales managers don’t bother coming down to the front desk with a planner arrives. Instead, the person is told to make X amount of rights and lefts and then to knock on the sales office door when they see it. This is not the way to begin a relationship with a potential customer. Especially a customer that we call a guest.
Instead, come down to greet your planners, and then lead them back to your sales office. It creates a classier and more trusting impression.
In summary, selling our hotels to guests, meeting planners, brides and anyone else requires much more than just the right technology tools, it requires soft skills. Skills that make us more personable and help our hotel look inviting. Failing to follow the eternal truths above results in lost business because it makes us look incompetent and uncaring. And that is not going to help us win much business at all.
Want to learn more about how to increase your group sales?
Subscribe to our group sales newsletter below (yes, that’s a big hint!). Every week, you’ll get ideas that will help you attract more groups to your hotel.
Just enter your email below and we promise (♥) never to spam you.