It’s Time for a Sales Check-up – Part 2
Excerpt from “Room to Grow” by Tammy Gillis
The realities of today present an opportunity for those who are willing to make some fundamental shifts in how they approach sales. What do we need to do to elevate sales in the hospitality industry and move forward with a strong sales imperative? Last time we looked at the importance of avoiding the cold call and the revolving door of your sales office. Let’s continue to take a look at how you can improve your sales strategy.
When evaluating your sales strategy consider the following:
If you build it, they will come: If you expected the sign on your hotel alone would bring in business, you may be under another common misconception. In a thriving economy, there’s enough demand generators to send you, and your competitors, all the bookings you need. But in a tough economy, when there’s oversupply in the industry and not enough business to go around, the brand alone isn’t enough.
The truth is that even during a thriving economy, a “build it and they will come” mentality isn’t sustainable. A successful hotel needs a strong local sales strategy and presence in the market. No brand will deliver enough business to keep a hotel busy all year round, and brands are not going to take care of a hotel’s backyard sales.
Losing opportunities at the front desk: Are your front desk staff qualifying leads or letting them get away? Do they see themselves as an important part of the sales team or do they see their role as “I check people in, and I check people out?” Do they have the tools, and have they been trained on how to qualify guests at check-in and how to convert incoming inquiries into reservations?
Don’t leave it open to interpretation. What gets measured gets done, and it’s critical to have SOPs that all front desk staff are trained in for handling check-in and reservations. They can be an important part of your sales strategy to identify leads and give them to the sales department or general manager for follow-up.
Making a Diagnosis
These are just a few scenarios to consider. If you can see yourself in any of these stories, you are likely experiencing some pain as it relates to your sales strategy. They may be slightly exaggerated (or perhaps not), but they are here to help you recognize the common symptoms of why the state of sales in the hospitality industry needs to change.
Each of these symptoms relates back to an overall approach to the sales function that is transactional, not strategic. As a result, in most instances, the above examples demonstrate how the sales function has become reactive, not proactive. There’s an immediate problem, so they solve it. There’s competition, so they offer a better price.
The consequences of any of these examples take us to the heart of the problem: a lack of sales imperative. In good times, you may get by with some of these scenarios, but when business begins to return, operations will likely take priority over sales.
All of this changes during times of scarcity. There’s not enough business for everyone when sales drop dramatically. The numbers back this up: According to a study by CSO Insights pre-COVID, only 53 percent of salespeople were meeting or exceeding their sales targets. The study suggested that sales organizations are not evolving fast enough to meet the needs of today’s informed buyers.
It becomes obvious that hotels have not been in control of their own destiny. They haven’t been in the driver’s seat. They’ve been a passenger, happily riding along taking business as it comes along until it doesn’t.
Now is the time to change our mindset about sales and take the necessary steps to re-build our sales strategy in order to ensure we are prepared for the next downturn. The hospitality industry is fiercely competitive, it’s hard work, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But the gains and the satisfaction are hugely rewarding for those willing to put in the effort. No one said it would be easy, but neither is the alternative.