So now you have the time…
I can’t tell you how many times during one of our training classes that one or more salespeople emphatically note “not enough time” as a challenge when the discussion turns to prospecting. Admittedly today’s hospitality sales professional had (stress had) a full plate of activities that included account management, lead responses, proposal development, Event Order coordination, and the list goes on.
But that was then; this is now…
In the wake of hotel/venues/catering company closures and lengthy furloughs, hospitality sales professionals have the time to plan. Yes, I said plan! Whether you return to your previous position or to a new position with a different organization, you will have to hit the ground running to prove your worth. We stress in all our classes that your value to your current employer, or to a new employer, will be measured based on two criteria:
1. Your ability to cultivate and grow your existing customer base and
2. Your creative outreach approach to win new business.
Now is the time to lay the groundwork for these activities. You have the time!
Here are 5 Top Strategies for Success on Furlough
1. Stay current: Absorb as much information as possible to stay in touch with economic trends. You can be certain that new businesses are going to emerge from this pandemic as thriving entities while others will fall by the wayside. Customers with whom you enjoyed excellent relationships pre-COVID may not exist in the post-COVID economy. An informed sales professional will be able to forecast these industry shifts and plan accordingly. Your “hit list” of prospects may look VERY different than it did in January 2020. You must be prepared to maximize your efforts!
2. Do your research now: Consider the long list of tasks that every hotel sales professional may be covered when our industry’s “new normal” begins. You may discover that your job description has changed to include activities that “service” the booked customer such as detail coordination and menu planning. The lines between sales and service may be blurred, thus leaving even less time for your outreach research. Now is the time to spend just one hour per day researching prospects, determining the path to the decision-maker and how to make that connection. Set a daily ‘hit list’ goal of 5-6 companies that you want to target. Conduct the research now and you will have a substantial list of prospective accounts you will be able to actively pursue upon your return!
3. Stay relevant: Your clients are in the same boat that you are—the uncertainty boat. It is more critical than ever to stay in touch with your existing customers. They need your assurances that you and your team are still there to help if and when the need arises. I am NOT suggesting that you conduct your regular sales call, i.e., “Have you started to plan your fall board meeting?” This is NOT the time to try to sell anything! I AM suggesting that you support your customers by just being in touch. A quick e-mail, a LinkedIn message, a relevant article will foster your relationship with an existing customer. Stay in touch!
4. Get ready to roll: It is everyone’s hope that the industry’s return to “normal” will be swift. The hotel salesperson will demonstrate his value to the team if he is ready with a strategic plan on Day One of the “new normal.” In the spirit of being prepared, I challenge you all to calendar your “sales plan” for the first day back, the first week back and the first month back. The hotel salesperson who is ready to leave the starting gate on Day One is the salesperson who will win the race. Waiting until that first day to plan your return is too late. Remember the adage, “If you are five minutes early, you are on time; if you are on time you are late and if you are five minutes late, don’t bother showing up.” Plan to be “five minutes early” on that first day back!
5. Self Care: Most important right now is your health and well-being. Take good care of yourselves in the weeks ahead. Eat well, get a little physical exercise, journal or meditate to stay balanced; stay connected and engaged with your family and friends while social distancing.
Challenge yourself by using the above strategies and create a plan that will emphasize your value to your current employer or to a new employer. You will be ready to attack your goals when given the ‘green light’ to go ahead. We will get to the other side! I’ll be looking for you when we get there!
Authors: Lee Ferris – Vice President & Co-Author: Cynthia Holme – Sales Training Professional
For a free consultation to discuss your sales strategies for 2020 or any other challenge you are looking for support with, call our office at 1-800-856-5075.