How Satchel Paige Would Sell To Groups

The Sage Satchel PaigeImagine being at a baseball game where the pitcher was about to throw his first pitch. Oddly enough, all his infielders are sitting instead of standing.


To find out, we have to go back to the 1930’s when a hall of famer named Satchel Paige was pitching.

And it was his infielders that would routinely sit because Paige was known to strike out the side.

There was no reason to stand as far as the fielders were concerned.

So what was Paige’s secret?

He continually adjusted the kind of pitch he would throw based on the type of hitter that would be at bat. Fastball hitters would get anything but fastballs. And curveball hitters would get a steady diet of fastballs, spitballs, and even the eephus pitch.

It’s exactly how every pitcher wants to pitch, except Paige was great at being able to adjust. Before the hitter knew it, three strikes had gone by.

Much like the hall of famer Paige, we can increase our chance of success if we adjust how we sell to different customers.

What do I mean by that?

In the hotel business, we get customers from all age groups. From octogenarian military reunion planners to millennial meetup types, we get them all. But most of us don’t adjust how we sell to people from different generations.

We have always been taught to treat people equally so we end up talking to everyone the same way. We’ll use the same scripts, the same proposals, and in many cases give the same site tour.

What we fail to realize is that people from different generations place varying levels of importance on our hotels décor, ambiance, and amenities. Moreover, they place a great emphasis on how we communicate to them, what we say, and how we say it. And what works for one generation does not always work for another.

Even brands like Hilton and Hyatt know this to be true

The whole purpose behind brands like Hotel Indigo, Home2Suites and Andaz was to attract a younger, more mobile crowd. The kind of crowd that is not really looking for a stodgy grand lobby, and full service everything.

And much like the big brands, we have to adjust how we interact with different generations too when we are interacting with them. Whether we are sending a proposal, talking to them on the phone, or giving them a site tour, we have to “play up” certain things while “playing down” others.

As an example, let’s talk about millennials. This generation makes decisions differently from previous generations. So when someone from this age group comes to our hotel to plan a meeting for their company, they are going to have a list of things that are needed for the meeting (Meeting room capacity, location etc).

But people don’t make decisions on these factors alone.

There is a subjective portion to hotel selection too

They are going to look at the hotel from the eyes of the generation that they belong to. Millennials will place a greater emphasis on things like multi-use lobbies, fast internet access, and self service kiosks. They will be more attracted to a hotel that has an active Instagram account with lots of followers.

If we are working with a military reunion planner in his 70’s, we have to approach things differently. Stressing the speed of our internet is not going to move the needle much in his head. And neither is the self service check in kiosk.

Selling to this generation requires a different approach and if done successfully, it will give you an edge. So if the decision comes down to two hotels, this small edge will tip the planner in your direction.

It’s like selling your house

If you know that the people coming to see your house have kids, would you place a greater emphasis on showing them the swings in the backyard, and the large finished basement. Of course you would. You would show the rest of the house as well, but the emphasis would be placed on the things that would make the buyer more interested in the house.

Remember that we have a finite amount of time with each prospect and while it would be far easier to prepare just one way to do everything, it is far more profitable to personalize each experience as much as possible.

But does adjusting your approach really give us an edge?

After all, a kiosk is not going to give you a big enough edge to win business. But if you add this edge to all the other things you have done, then you’ve got more than a fighting chance to win.

Things like responding to proposals quickly, sending an attractive proposal, following up on your conversation, etc.

Doing all the above adds up incrementally in the buyers mind. Each one of these is a piece of the puzzle that you help complete in the buyers mind. Each one adds one more reason for the planner to feel that your hotel is the right place for their group.

So let’s get to the nitty gritty, shall we.

Tips for selling to each generation


  • They often go with an off-the-shelf solution, so long as it is tried, tested and has quality.
  • They will expect testimonials and referrals to back up your statements of quality.
  • Communicate using these methods:  Face-to-face visits, meetings, phone calls and letters.
  • They have time to chat, so plan on a longer meeting.
  • Remember to ask for the sale.
  • As a salesperson, you should under promise and over deliver.

Baby Boomers:

  • Want to have personalized service, enjoy status symbols (so make sure you notice)
  • Loyal customer that counts great service as a reason to return to the same place over and over again
  • Known for their work ethic, Boomers will expect this from you as well.  Make visible what you are doing on their behalf—the long hours, the reports, the meetings, the decisions.
  • Use Smartphones and iPads to communicate.
  • Show how your products and services will save them time and money.


  • Loyal, but not as loyal as the baby boomers. They like to change up things every now and then to create something new. Will switch meeting venues faster than the boomers.
  • More self sufficient and needs a hotel that is contemporary and home like.
  • They don’t like to be sold to.
  • They like to make decisions based on their own research so provide lots of reasons why your hotel will fit their needs in terms of cost and quality.
  • They work to live, they don’t live to work
  • Be their adviser. Help them by letting them educate themselves with links and online content.
  • Don’t make the decision for them, but show them all the benefits that you hotel has for their group and let them make up their mind.


  • Expectation for instant communication
  • They will not need to see testimonials from you. They have checked you out already on sites like Tripadvisor.
  • Very quality conscious, not as price sensitive as Gen X.
  • They don’t like to use email, use Facebook or better yet, use Instagram/twitter to communicate.
  • They like companies that are social do-gooders like Tom’s, Kiva etc. So if you support your community locally, show that off.
  • Into cool tech so if you have ipads at checkin, self service kiosks, and a lobby that has a Starbucks feel to it, then you’re in.
  • Use technology to communicate as much as possible as they don’t like to set up any more meetings than they have to.
  • They are very time starved and love companies that make things easier on them.
  • Have very short attention spans so when you do meet, keep things short and to the point. Don’t go salesy on them, they will start playing with their phones while you are talking.
  • Not very loyal to any brand so they are open to moving their meetings/group business.
  • Good wifi is not just essential, it is a deal breaker. If you have Fiber based wifi (or equivalent), you can play this up.
  • They don’t like waiting in line or on hold.

While the list above is certainly not comprehensive, it does provide a road map of how to switch up your approach in order to get that edge. Once you make some of the changes to your approach, your customers will feel that you understand them better, that they can talk to you, and most importantly, can trust you with their business.

Let’s summarize, shall we

Many sales managers use the same approach when selling to someone in his sixties as they do when they are selling to someone in their thirties. However, adjusting how you talk, what you focus on in your site tours and how you communicate with them all makes a huge difference in whether the planner feels connected to you.

Much like Satchel Paige, use an entire repertoire of pitches based on who you’re talking to. It will smooth the way to higher sales, and leave your competition far behind.

What should you do next?

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