Making New Year's Sales and Marketing Resolutions REAL AND PRACTICAL.
By John Hogan CHE CHA MHS.
Monday, 12th January 2009
January is the time many people set (usually lofty) resolutions, based on what we hope to improve on in the coming year. While the budget was completed in the latter part of last year, January is that time of year many people stretch for renewed enthusiasm and commitment.

The hotel segment of the hospitality industry in many segments and locations set revenue and profitability records in 2007 and began 2008 with optimism and hopes of a repeat performance.  The reality of the global financial crisis changed those expectations by mid year in most markets and we are all facing significant challenges in 2009 and 2010.

Most hotels created a sales and marketing plan for 2008, but what happened to the execution?  While one can blame the economy or the government or some other 3rd party, we must each assess how much of our success is tied to our efforts.

The calendar now says January, and looking back at lost opportunities for last year is a wasted effort.  It is now time to think how you will be conducting your sales efforts this year, in measurable components.

If you have a flexible, effective sales and marketing plan developed for THIS year - congratulations!   Now it is clearly time to hunker down and focus on execution.

If you don't have one prepared, you are behind much of the competition but it is not too late to plan the work and begin to work the plan.

Part of this means looking at last year's action plans and results - did your team follow the sales action steps you felt were appropriate when you made the plan? 

The answer for most of us is that we do not always follow either personal or business resolutions unless we build in a reminder system. Those systems might include using Key Result Areas (KRAs) or Personal Business Objectives (PBOs) that are tracked and formally reviewed with others monthly or quarterly.  Those systems may include submitting monthly reports on actual compared to plan in leads, conversions, revenue, bookings, calls, trips, etc.

Regardless of where you are in planning , think about TODAY to committing yourself to a fresh start.  Once again, resolve a new effort.

In our book LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, Howard Feiertag and I offered practical approaches to selling in the last big market downturn.

This article is divided into two segments and I have updated those strategies.

1. Sell Price Last:  Even in challenging economic times, price remains only one of selling points of all. People want value, but if you know where you are competition-wise, price should not be the breaking point if you are competitive.

2. Include more items in packages.  Comp rooms, free parking, free A/V and various other "freebies" are sometimes necessary ingredients in closing a deal, especially in a soft market. "Listen" to what the potential client feels is important to them and then deliver what they want at a fair to all price and package.

3. Close As Soon As Possible: The prospect you leave behind may be closed by the competition.  Time is important to everyone, so use yours effectively.

4. Increase the Number of Your Sales Calls:   If you make more calls, you meet more prospects; if you meet more prospects, you can do more selling, and if you do more selling, you close more sales. (The law of averages works.)

5. Have Sincere Pride in Your Product and Service:  Be proud of where you work; then, where you work will be proud of you.

6. Be Persistent:  Most sales are closed after the fourth or fifth call.

7. Be Loyal:  One of the greatest virtues of selling is loyalty to your hotel, your manager and your owner.

8. Ask For the Business: Too many salespeople are on Public Relations calls; they forget to ask for the order.

9. Communicate More:  Let the staff (especially the switchboard and front office) know where you are and where you're going to be.

10. Have Confidence in Yourself and Your Team:  The seller's confidence in the product results in the potential buyer's confidence, more often than not, results in a sale.

11.  Be Nice: Training people to be nice is tough, so only hire nice people.

12.  Find Your Balance Between Aggressive and Assertive Selling: Sales isn't an athletic competition where someone wins and the other loses.  Find a happy medium between high and low pressure sales techniques. In fact, a confident professional does not need pressure to close a sale, but rather assists the potential client in solving their needs.  This goes back to #2 – LISTENING MORE.

13. Keep In Touch Regularly:  Don't lose contact with a prospect. Phone calls, notes, newsletters, even birthday cards, are good ways to remind people that you're still interested in them.

14.  Don't Criticize: Sell your features against the competition's, but don't stoop to criticism. Take the high road.

Ask those people you admire if they work from a set of goals.  You already know the answer – seriously working resolutions regularly pays off. 

Feel free to share an idea at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops or speaking engagements. 

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE  www.roomschronicle.com and other industry sources.

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