The Importance of Engagement During the Selling Process

By Del Robinette Vice President Sales & Marketing, Hospitality Management Corporation | September 17, 2017

Engagement and commitment are at the core of our professional lives in a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week operation. No matter the size or complexity of the box, engagement and our commitments should be a core fundamental that not only surfaces in our every interaction, but guides and directs our proactive decision making and our strategies and executions. Hospitality 101 teaches us as hospitality professionals, to engage with our guests, to make eye contact at 10 feet, to speak within 5, to escort when possible and to use our guests name in conversation. We are taught to answer the phone in just a few rings, to professionally engage our customers and clients at every interaction and be the key stakeholders of their happiness during their time with us. Commitment to our client’s and guest’s comfort and happiness, successful planning and meetings should live at the core of our hospitality spirit. Far too often forgotten is engagement within our sales discipline. How, as executive level leadership are we asking our sales people to be engaged and how are we committing ourselves to their success? Are we hiring committed, passionate, truly professional sales people that come to work every day to do exactly what we hired them to do? Sell.

Sales Engagement – A Few Instances Where it Deserves a Deeper Dive

Several years ago, I had an incredibly dynamic, engaged and committed sales person working for me. She was polished, involved with her clients and colleagues and everyone really admired this young manager. She was in early and out late, she was committed. She was the top sales person in our brand, year in and year out, won incentive trips and best of the best awards. I was shocked when she resigned to go work outside of our industry and outside of the sales discipline. When I asked her why, she very candidly said, I’m not that great of a sales person, in fact I hate sales. The reason she was first in the office and typically locking the door at the end of each day, was because she was anxious about her sales days. I immediately reacted with “You are the top catering sales manager in the entire company, by some pretty gross margins…by my account, you are an amazing sales person!” Her response “I just follow the sales funnel you gave us. I don’t miss a step, I go from A to Z and I do every letter in between and they buy.” “Stop it! Seriously? You were so engaged with the sales process and so committed to execution of this sales funnel, so much so that you just won the business?” She replied “Yes.” Of course, I replied, “Ok, what will it take to change your mind?” There was no changing her mind.

Professional sales people, engage the sales funnel. They take every opportunity to build rapport, in fact they build rapport first! This is the “A” in the “A to Z” They are committed to finding common ground with their client and developing a relationship, before considering selling. As professional sales people, we talk about building rapport incessantly. After all, as the old saying goes, people buy from people they know, like and trust. Professional engaged sales people, get engaged prior to selling.

As professional sales people we close, we ask for the business, we talk about it constantly. Engaged sales people ask for the business! This is “Z” in the “A to Z” and no matter your method, we typically ask for the business in one form or another.

But what about the “B through Y”? We build rapport well, we do the A, we ask for the business, and we come up short. Why? The B through Y. The most crucial piece of the B to Y is how we qualify! I believe, as professional hotel sales people, we have completely forgotten to qualify or we have devalued the qualification process. I mean, isn’t it so much easier to go from A right to Z? We are friends, they like me, I have told them a bit about our hotel, I have a pretty good idea or understanding of how many rooms they need, what their food and beverage needs look like, we have a shuttle and I am sure they need one of those, so I told them about it. I also told the client we have an amazing complimentary hot full breakfast buffet, so I have every right to ask for the business. Wrong! Did you know their guests typically leave so early that they don’t even have time to eat breakfast at the hotel and their company provides them transportation? Probably not, because we made a ton of assumptions and never got around to qualifying the business. We never truly understood the client’s direct needs nor uncovered their implied needs. We were so excited this person loved us and focused on the prospect of their potential business, that we forgot to marry their specific needs to our fabulous product.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Sherri Merbach
Michael Blake
Joyce Gioia
Emily Venugopal
Johan Terve
Renu Hanegreefs-Snehi
Robert M. O'Halloran
Andy Ellicott
Sheetal Singh
Scott  Watson
Derek Peterson
Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.