Three Basic Questions We Aren’t Asking Prospects

Mechanical teeth smilingFlossing.

The very thought makes many of us uncomfortable.

We know it’s something we should be doing daily but over 50% of us don’t (according to the American Dental Association ).

After all, flossing is part of a basic routine to maintain good dental hygiene. Despite knowing this, many of us just fail at it.

Whether we are just lazy or forgetful, many of us forget the importance of this basic task. Much like flossing, there is something basic that many of us fail at when we are talking to our prospects too.

We forget to ask important questions during the initial question and answer phase

You see, we all ask about the clients needs (dates, space needs, F&B requirements etc). But many of us forget to ask some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:

  1. Is this a recurring event?
  2. What does your group do?
  3. How did you hear about us?

I know what you’re thinking. That you know this already, right? These are basic prospecting 101 type questions. But guess what? So is flossing and half of us are not doing it.

These three questions are extremely important questions and the answers will provide you competitive intelligence like nothing else. They will help you determine what you can quote, and how aggressive you want to be with a group. Moreover, you’ll find new opportunities with group types you did not know existed.

Let’s start with the first question.

1) Is this a recurring event?

Most people ask this question for the obvious reason. If the event repeats every year, then you can offer more aggressive pricing/perks because this can be a source of recurring business. Plus, if they are willing to sign a two or three year deal, you can sweeten the pot even more.

But that is not the only reason we need to ask this question.

It also helps us formulate whether we need to have a follow up strategy in case we lose this business. What most of us do when we lose business is move on. But before we move on, we need to know if the business is recurring or not.

Because if it is, then we need to have some kind of strategy in place so we can go after this business next year. But if we don’t ask this question, winning any of our lost bids is out of the question as well.

The second question we need to ask is even simpler, but has a more profound effect on your business.

2) What does your group do?

Many groups are instantly recognizable. Their name says it all (e.x. G.E. Training). But other times, the name of the group doesn’t tell us a thing about what they do. Names like MOC/MOCA, or Mensa give nary a hint.

And yet, during the initial sales call, many of us don’t bother to ask. The prospect calls our hotel, asks for availability and we offer up a rate. Many of us only dig deeper into what the group actually does once we are deeper into the process (i.e. actually booking the group).

However, the time to ask what each group does is during that initial call. Knowing what they do provides us more prospecting ideas. If it’s a group type that we have not done business with before, we can start using some of our prospecting skills to find other groups of this type that might be coming into your city.

And this applies to LNR’s (locally negotiated rates) too

We all have our share of LNR’s but so many of us fail to ask what brings them town. At one of our hotels, we had one guy who is a traveling professor.

Yes, traveling professor.

He/she is someone a school can hire by semester to teach students a class. Schools hire these traveling professors to fill a hole or if the tenured professor is on sabbatical.

Who would have thought that this is even a business? But it is.

There are companies that, much like traveling nurses, help traveling professors find work. And by talking to this gentleman and knowing what he does, we were able find another type of business that comes to town.

And finally, last question we should be asking.

3) How did you hear about us/find us?

It does not get any more basic than this question. Just about every retailer asks you for a zip code so they can see where business is coming from. And you should do the same.

There is competitive intelligence to be gathered and knowing how a prospect found you can have a huge impact on future marketing and prospecting efforts. So if a customer tells you they saw an ad in the local paper then you need to mark that ad as a win and let someone in marketing know.

If a customer tells you that they heard about you from their travel coordinator, then you need to get to know this travel coordinator. You need to build a relationship with this person and see if there is more business to be had. No matter what the prospect answers, knowing how different groups find you is essential to growing and cultivating more leads.

The questions above are as basic as basic gets

But asking them provides us important clues that make us better prospectors. The information we glean from these questions provides us important clues towards new business opportunities, and helps us uncover existing influencers within organizations. Moreover, the information helps us become better at what we do.

Let’s make sure the questions above are not too basic for us to ask. Because if we don’t do the basics, we’ll suffer from long term decay of our business.

And our teeth won’t be any better for it either 🙂

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