I remember when I was involved in property level hotel sales, and uncovered a hot lead that I felt was so close to booking business with me… we had a great connection, I could feel their excitement about the property, they met the staff and I could see they were imagining themselves & their group having a great meeting at the hotel. Everything seemed peachy. And then… radio silence. Honestly, it happens to us all!
The two main reasons for this radio silence are a shift in priorities, or a decision by committee.
A shift in priorities is pretty easy to understand, as we know many clients in the hospitality space “wear several hats”. They aren’t solely focused on meeting planning, but may be the buyer for all of the products & services the business needs. Or, they may be the Executive Admin. to the CEO, like a few of my clients were, and suddenly the CEO has a last-minute meeting and needs the entire executive team travel arranged, data & a presentation compiled, video conferencing capabilities to China figured out from a remote location in the hills of West Virginia… you get the picture. A major distraction from the plan of ensuring the details of the next sales summit that is happening 10 months from now is finalized & booked.
Let’s be really clear on this next part, as decision by committee is a fact that many hotel sales professionals forget or ignore. No business decisions are made in a bubble. To minimize the risk, even with what some would consider small spend decisions, more than one person will be involved in the decision-making process. Think about the process within your own hotel… must you get approval for a $2,000 spend? Most likely the answer is yes! The “Quick…Spend $10,000” just doesn’t exist in today’s business environment. I own my business, and you better believe that even I involve my team when it comes to all large spend decisions.
It can be a hard pill to swallow to realize that your sale is not top priority to your buyer. It can be even harder to explain that to your owner or leadership sometimes… I get it. But, here are a few ways to protect yourself from radio silence with a customer and give your leadership peace-of-mind that “you’ve got this,” by ensuring that you’ve done everything in your control to keep the conversation moving forward.
1. During your initial conversations with the client get to know their decision process and understand their goals for timing. Ask questions like, “Ideally, when would you like to have your venue selected and this portion of your planning process wrapped up?” Then, “What kinds of things might get in the way of that happening for you?” And lastly, “How can I be of service to you to help stay on track with this, and make it an ideal situation for you?” This shows your true partnership and commitment to serving them!
2. Always agree on a next step with the client. Set a time, date and method of connection. Then, follow-through with that commitment on your end! If they do not follow-through, don’t give up. Continue to reach out every few days, then push it back to once a week, and if the silence continues, go to every other week.
3. Create a “radio silence hack list” for yourself.
- Mine is full of articles I’ve written (you can include articles about the hotel or topics that are relevant to the meeting planning business, property factsheets, pictures or videos, etc.) that you send in follow-up.
- Send “lumpy” mail, meaning a direct mail piece that will catch their attention. These are typically odd sized envelopes with a hand-written note, and often can have a small “thinking of you” gift inside.
- Try a video email. There are services like BombBomb that make it easy for you to take a video of yourself speaking to your client vs. sending a generic email.
You get the idea… there are many things you can do, but have a hack list prepared ahead of time, so you’re not trying to think of something every time this happens.
What are some other ways you or your sales team has been able to navigate the buying process with prospects to ensure the doors remain open? Please share below, we would love to hear from you!
Amy Infante has been a hotel sales & marketing consultant for the past 10 years working with her clients to navigate the B2B buying process as it specifically relates to hotel sales team success. Amy has developed Plan B Consultants, Inc. and Sales4Hire™ from her passion to provide solutions for business leaders and hotel owners that are tailor made to find top line revenue.
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