In providing training for hotel sales and catering departments I usually find that nearly all have a robust sales lead tracking tool. There are many excellent systems out there such as SalesForce, Delphi, and Opera Sales Force Automation among others. Yet when I ask sales leaders the question “How well are your sales associates using their system?” the answer tends to be “Not as well as they should be.”
As great as these systems are, they of course cannot generate any revenues unless they are properly used. Rather than using these systems to better-manage their workday, many hotel salespeople I speak with see using these systems as extra work. Instead most seem to be trying to organize their sales leads in Outlook or whatever email program they are using, or they are trying to use calendar features available on their smartphones.
Myself being in sales for many years, I can definitely say I practice what I preach. When I am not on the road conducting sales related training I can usually be found in my office selling sales training. My workday usually begins with a review of the sales leads I am working for that day, then I begin reaching out by phone as 9am hits each local time zone, then sending follow-up emails to those who I called the day prior but who did not yet respond. After each attempt I immediately trace-out the next step for a few days later. When I do connect with someone I immediately enter the notes from the call or a summary of the email exchange into my lead tracking tool, attaching any documents or detailed emails to the lead contact. Sometime after lunch I re-check my list to see how I am doing. If I have been distracted by call-in leads or unexpected meetings and I see I cannot get to everyone I had planned on reaching, I sort through the list to find the remaining top-priority contacts for the day and re-trace the rest for my next available office day. Finally at the end of each office day I look at the next few days to see who should be moved up or back on the calendar according to the volume of leads as compared to my available office days and hours.
There are definitely quite a few dedicated sales superstars out there who use a similar approach to managing their sales time each day. Yet all too many others spend their day reacting to whatever comes their way. With emails pinging, texts zinging and cell phones ringing, it is easy to stay in reactive mode five days a week.
Here are some training tips to ensure your hotel sales team is properly utilizing the tools they have literally at their fingertips.
Sales Director and General Managers:
- Pick a kick-off date and announce that after that point you expect full 100% compliance, then enforce it!
- Familiarize yourself with the processes and procedures the salespeople are to be using to enter call notes, attach emails and documents. Determine which features you want your staff to use, picking only those that are most essential to sales success.
- Review all available management reports on sales activity; select the ones you want to review regularly and make your own task list entry to always run those reports on the same day of week or date of month. If you have admin support, ask them to run these reports for you.
- Be sure to review the reports at every sales meeting. Beyond that, provide feedback for sales staff between meetings to let them know you are looking at their activity.
- If your salespeople travel frequently, purchase them laptops or tables with keyboards so that they can access the sales tracking system remotely.
- Spot-check timeliness of response by randomly selecting some leads that have come in a few weeks prior at the point of origination (usually a sales admin who fields calls or the general email box) then check the sales tracking system to see what happened and when.
- Start every day looking at your task list first before you look at your email in-box. Make the most essential sales calls first before reacting to non-urgent emails.
- Ask for two email accounts; one to use for client and prospect correspondence and one to use for internal communications with your colleagues in operations and sales.
- Avoid what one of my clients calls “email ping pong” with internal correspondence. Rather than emailing “Sergio the F&B Manager” about every detail regarding an upcoming group or function, make a “speak with Sergio” list and instead stop by or call him to review and resolve all issues at once.
- Be diligent about entering notes about your phone calls and email summaries, not only because your director is watching but also because it will help you remember the smallest details and thus you can refer back to those key points to gain credibility and show a customer-focused hotel culture that starts with sales.
- Delegate operational issues by properly introducing planners and other clients to operational leaders once a sale is closed. Present them as being “the real experts in fulfilling guest/planner needs.”
- Be disciplined about punctuality. Arrive 15 minutes early to review your sales task lists before you open the email box. Stay a few minutes late to re-stack your sales activities for the next day.
About Doug Kennedy
Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades. Since 1996, Doug’s monthly hotel industry training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hotel industry training authors in the world. He is the author of Still On The Road to Sales and Guest Service Excellence. Visit KTN at: www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com or email him directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Still On The Road To Sales and Guest Service Excellence
“Still On The Road To Sales and Guest Service Excellence” is a collection of monthly hotel training articles written by Kennedy from 1996 to 2012 and published worldwide in industry trade journals.
Doug's articles, which have inspired hoteliers worldwide, are presented chronologically, allowing the readers to see how training strategies and techniques have evolved over time. Read how emerging technologies, such as online distribution, online guest reviews, and CRM technology have impacted hospitality sales and service training over the years. Although technology changes, Doug's core recommendations starting from his very first article are still relevant today.
The book is available on Amazon.
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