I recently returned from delivering my “Mapping the Course” educational workshop at the Inn Development and Management Conference and one of the segments that I covered with the group was prospecting.
Prospecting for new customers is a necessary function of the sales cycle but did you know that new customers generated as a result of prospecting can account for as much as 50 to 90 percent of your hotel’s occupancy?
That’s a big spread in percentage points and those of you who are doing a great job at plugging new business into your hotel on a consistent basis are probably hitting the latter number, exceeding your quota, and keeping your GM out of your hair.
On the other hand, if your hotel’s occupancy is at the lower end of the spectrum it may be because you don’t prospectconsistently, efficiently, and effectively in order to keep your sales pipeline full.
Since the year’s end is just around the corner, are you ready to make a commitment to becoming a more productive hotel sales manager in 2013?
If you answered yes, read on.
No matter what channels you use for prospecting, you will need to make some general assessments that are associated with your territory, hotel, comp set, capabilities, etc. and then formulate a game plan associated with your assessments to make sure that your future calls or contacts will be quality ones and not ‘dialing for dollars’.
Here are 8 assessments that need to be addressed.
1. What is my territory or market segment?
Tip - If you are unfamiliar with your territory you can find businesses using Google Earth. Simply type in a zip code in the search field and hit the search button. Next, type in the word ‘businesses’ in the search field and hit the search button again. The return will display most of the larger businesses located within that zip code along with an address, telephone number, and a link to that company’s website.
2. Is my brand easily recognized by customers and prospects?
Tip - Get together with your marketing team or PR firm and learn about your hotel’s current and future marketing plans. If your hotel is planning a new campaign and it’s a go, pick up the phone and let your top customers in on the news before it’s released to the general public and then follow up with an email that contains all of the information related to the campaign.
3. Who are my competitors and how are they selling against my hotel?
Tip - If your hotel subscribes to an Online Reputation Management solution like ReviewPro, Revinate or ReviewAnalyst you can monitor your comp set and gather intelligence that will help you to better understand how your hotel compares against other selected hotels in your immediate market.
4. How will I continually generate new prospects?
Tip - You need to fish where the fish are biting. Mine your hotel’s CRM system, ask for internal and external customer referrals and referrals from other sales people who call on your target market. Speak at functions that your prospects attend. Talk to your family and friends. Attend networking functions, conferences, and trade shows where your prospects meet. Don’t overlook social channels like LinkedIn as a source for prospects and referrals.
5. How much time will I be able to devote to prospecting on a regular basis?
Tip – If you are organized, you should be able to spend between 20 to 30 hours a week prospecting. If you are a seasoned sales manager and want to challenge yourself, create a list of between 10 to 20 companies that you would like to convert into new customers over the next 12 to 18 months. Keep in mind that these prospects will take time to cultivate and you should view them as ‘career’ or ‘home run’ customers that will dramatically change your year when you land them.
6. What are my prospecting strengths and weaknesses?
Tip - All of us have varying degrees of strengths and weaknesses and no one is perfect. If you are interested in delving into what makes you tick, here is some information that will help you to make the most of your talents and opportunities.
7. What is the strength of my target list?
Tip - Instead of purchasing a ‘list’, create your own by using business directories and search engines that are specifically designed to provide information about companies, organizations, and other opportunities that you can add to your target list.
8. Do I conduct thorough research about prospects before I contact them?
Tip - The people that you will be contacting are more ‘sales savvy‘ than ever before so make sure that you conduct some research about your prospect and his/her company before you pick up the phone or send an email. When you have a better understanding of your prospect’s pain, challenges, and their corporate culture and are able to talk knowledgeably about them, you will have a much better chance of getting your foot in the door.
I’ll have a follow up to this post next week and as always, feel free to add your comments.
Prospecting is just one of the segments from my “Mapping the Course” educational workshop specifically designed for new and seasoned hotel sales managers.
Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement firm, that helps hotels grow their business and generate more revenue.