What one factor has an impact on the success of any: hotel sales blitz, sales event, prospecting campaign, or special sales program? Follow-up

The success of your sales mission, ROI, and conversion rate depends significantly on one thing: your follow-up.

I know that seems simple, but unfortunately in reality it is not that simple for everyone.

Think about it…  You put a ton of energy into building a list of target clients, creating marketing pieces, planning out the event, ensuring you have enough appointments or strong attendance or enough clients to call… All this excitement and build-up happens!  Then, it’s over.  Everyone is happy, relieved and now you have a pile of work waiting on your desk that was put off during all of the commotion to create and execute a successful event or prospecting campaign.  So, what happens to the follow-up?  Amidst everything else, it tends to get pushed to the side, pushed down on the priority list, ignored or forgotten.  Six months later, leadership asks for a status update on whatever happened with that great event or prospecting campaign and oofpah…panic sets in.

So, how to ensure the sales team remains vigilant in the follow-up?  That is the magic question with no magic answer, but here are seven pointers that can help get started.

  1. Create a follow-up plan during the pre-plan.  Don’t wait until after the event or prospecting campaign when you have a daunting and growing “to-do” list.  Create a plan of how you will prioritize, track and continue the follow-up to each prospect gathered.  Follow-up pieces such as email blasts or templates, marketing materials, etc. should be created or at least conceptualized prior to the actual campaign, with a timeline attached to each piece.
  2. Create a template for every sales person involved to take detailed notes and put a spot on that template for “next steps.”  Whether the lead is for that particular sales person or a colleague, a consistent form will help everyone understand exactly how and when this client should be reached.
  3. Listen to the client & follow-up how and when they prefer.  If someone tells you that they are in the middle of a priority project and they won’t complete that and be able to focus on your initiative for another 2 months… Respect their timeline.  If a client says they have a tight timeline and need to get something started with you immediately… Be prompt in your follow-up.
  4. Expect to chase.  Just because you had an amazing meeting or conversation over the phone initially and the client seemed super excited to work with you doesn’t mean you are their only focus.  Understand that the ball is in your court, and you are responsible for staying compelling and relevant in the client’s mind.  Some of my best accounts have taken over a year to close the deal!
  5. Persistence is key, but so is being relevant.  Don’t just reach out to “check-in.”  Have a compelling reason to connect with that prospect based on previous conversations.  Share information they will find interesting.  Show that you’ve taken time to research and invest in them.  This will go much further than a simple “check-in” email.  I get a lot of those emails and phone calls myself as a business owner, and I ignore 99% of them.  Bring some depth of knowledge the chances of capturing my attention are much higher.
  6. Be reasonable and honest in evaluating the possibilities of working with prospects in the future.  Have some kind of scoring system in place that evaluates the opportunity with each client to help prioritize the follow-up.  I find that evaluating prospects’ potential as a team helps to alleviate the potential of one sales person creating a bias and either wasting time or by-passing something with strong potential.
  7. Track progress through some kind of sales CRM, spreadsheet, etc.  Most hotels use a CRM, but it is of the utmost importance to have some kind of tracking system that shows where the lead originates from, every conversation or correspondence, and a trace for a next step.

Remember, only 2% of new business is closed after the first or second contact with that potential customer.  80% of new business closes somewhere between the 5th and 12th contact.

Proactive sales doesn’t come easy.  Follow-up is the key!

 What other pointers or guidelines do you use for your follow-up plan after a sales event or prospecting campaign?  Please share!