Direct Sales: Getting the Biggest Bang for your Buck
By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | October 28, 2008
When we know that the supply/demand dynamics will always change, then why be complacent with a sales person or sales team that is not proactively generating business for the future? A consistent, strategic, and proactive approach will offset any negative trends in a downturn and will protect an owner's investment.
What better time, than when business is strong, to step back, and set up a plan that lays the foundation for generating and maintaining business? This article will address the importance of creating a great sales force during the good times and some tips on how to do it. ** **
Establish a Strategic Plan
Staying true to the property's position is important as it is the foundation from which all plans stem. The position determines what services and amenities are offered; the type of business the property caters to; and the rates given. With the positioning in place, determine the most realistic mix of business on any given day for a year as the patterns and demand for business change daily based on season, day of the week, holidays, and local factors. That level of detail will provide the basis of the sales plan as it will provide the guidelines for which market segments the sales department solicits, at what rate, when the business is to be consumed, and the volume of business, broken down on a daily basis.
Create and Maintain a Database of Accounts
We know that a function of marketing is to establish an identity or market presence in order to generate business. Typically those efforts impact business "indirectly", such as thru GDS bookings, rack rated transient business, or weekend business. The sales team's function is to impact business "directly". Therefore, to ensure that the sales department is functioning to accomplish this effort, it is important to create and maintain a database of existing and potential accounts. This is done once the strategic plan is established which incorporates the volume of business per segment to be consumed on an annual basis. For example, if the annual plan calls for corporate group business at 25,000 nights, at an average rate of $250.00, then the sales department is responsible for soliciting that volume on an annual basis. That is done through an on-going process of each sales person managing his/her accounts. The management is based on a systematic account trace system which allows a sales person to adjust the potential volume of an account. If an account drops its volume potential, then new accounts are identified and opened in order to maintain the desired goal of business.