ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Elements Of An Intelligent Sales Conversation.
By Tom Costello
Tuesday, 18th June 2013
Every hotel sales manager who is prospecting for new customers will eventually get involved in a conversation with that prospect to discuss his needs and to find out if the sales manager's hotel can provide the amenities, location and rate that can turn the prospect into a customer.

This post is not about your sales pitch or handling objections but how to included some of the important elements of a conversation that allows you to have better control of the conversation and ensure that your prospect is better able to respond.

After you have gotten past delivering your intro and determining that this prospect is a decision maker, it's time to have a conversation.

There are a dozen or so elements of an intelligent conversation and here a seven for your consideration.

Informing – Providing information to your prospect helps him to understand what you understand and enables him to make informed and sensible decisions.  When you include hotel jargon and other specifics that you assume the prospect understands will only confuse the prospect.  If your prospect is confused, you will notice that his interaction with you will diminish over the length of the conversation.  When you are involved in a situation like this, you will need to check to find out if he understands what you are talking about so both of you can continue to be on the same page.

Proposing – Proposing is making suggestions that require your prospect to either agree or disagree.  Proposing can include offering a solution to a problem that has been discussed at some point during the conversation.  Proposing can be as simple as a closed-ended or open-ended statement.  When you introduce uncertain proposals such as ‘maybe', ‘could' or ‘perhaps', it invites the prospect to pass comment on what has been said rather than simply to agree or disagree.  "It would be interesting to try…What do you think?"

Building – Building is one of the most powerful conversational methods and makes best use of joint thinking.  You can build on your own comments developing a complete concept.  You can build on what your prospect is saying which can help you to create a bond that can lead him to accept your concept, especially if he believes that he has had some involvement in developing it.  "I like your idea about…"

Sustaining the Conversation – It's a given that you have something worthwhile to say in order to open a conversation and it's another to keep the conversation moving forward.  You can opt to ask your prospect for his opinion, share something that is relevant to the conversation about yourself, tell a story and talk about news and events that may be related to your prospect.

Self-promotion – It is no surprise that many of your conversations with prospects include some form of self-promotion.  Conversations often promote certain views, both your views and your prospects views, and they are typified by a competition to speak with interruptions, steering the conversation and speaking quickly to avoid being interrupted.  The best course of action is to show that you are impressed by your prospect's self-promotion.

Encouragement Interrupt – Not all interruptions have to occur in order to take back control over the conversation.  Listening is a critical conversational skill and the encouragement interrupt shows your interest in your prospect and his opinion and also opens the opportunity to gain additional information.  "Really?  Tell me more."

Create Empathy - In order to build rapport and connect with your prospect, seek to stimulate his empathy so he will naturally connect with you.  One of the ways to gain empathetic connection with your prospect is to display emotions that stimulate his emotions such as sadness or happiness as an example.

Are you have intelligent conversations with your prospects?  What other elements of an intelligent conversation would you like to include?

Tom Costello is a business owner, consultant, and author whose career encompasses more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality and travel industries that includes startups, strategic business planning, P&L management, branding, sales, marketing, social media, e-reputation management, technology development, channel distribution, vendor and third-party relations. As the Principal of Groups International, a meetings and events management company, Tom drives the strategic growth of the company in the areas of sales, marketing, brand image, social media, and vendor relations.

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