who doesn't love a road trip?!
So you are going out on the road for any number of reasons. Maybe you are off to drop off a contract (because you always hand deliver a contract when it is local, right?!). Maybe you are stopping by to see one of your top accounts. Maybe you are off to a NACE/HSMAI/MPI meeting. Maybe you are off to a Doctor’s appointment….
Either way you are heading out of the office and you are in your car. Why not knock out some sales calls in the process? I know, I know Sales Calls are a pain – everyone prefers to be sitting back at their desk and just waiting for the leads to flow in over the fax/email/phone etc. But as much denial as we like to live in, we know that the sales calls are a part of our job.
So how to knock out a whole bunch of sales calls without spending all day at it?
The easiest way to do this is next time you are planning on heading out of the office for any reason, do a search in your sales database for any accounts that already exist in the SAME ZIP CODE. If you have the ability to search for accounts in the same building even better!
This way you can minimize the time and expense of driving all over town. And let’s face it you were already headed to that part of town anyway – what does it take to do 5 extra sales calls while you are already there.
I am not suggesting that you call to set up these appointments. In fact in my humble opinion they work even better if you show up unannounced. The goal here is really to spend as little time as possible setting up and getting to the appointment.
Really this is just a part of account management….
It can be said that Sales Managers will protect their groups' room blocks more than even their own lives at times. So much stress and pain seems to come as a result of room block cutoff dates...
So what can be done to prevent some of this pain?
Well, first of all - and this is the easiest part - make sure your group's cutoff date falls on an appropriate date. I know this seems obvious, but make sure its not on a weekend or a public holiday. Most sales systems will automatically assign a cutoff date for you (usually 30 days prior), but this is not set in stone - change it!!!! I actually know plenty of hotels that make it a rule that cutoff dates are not to be within 24 hours of a holiday or the weekend. This becomes even more important for hotels with front office systems that automatically drop room blocks once the cutoff date is reached. Nothing is more frustrating for a group reservations department than to receive a rooming list at 5pm on a Friday afternoon which is also the cutoff date!
Sales Managers should really also discuss the cutoff date with their clients as part of the contract negotiations. Make sure that the cutoff date that you are giving them is realistic. Ask them about their past groups - do they think that 30 days prior is realistic. If not - negotiate where possible.
And for those of you with sales systems that are interfaced with your front office systems, ABSOLUTELY make sure that your cutoff dates are not too close to end of month/quarter. I know of a Sales Manager who had a huge group drop out of the system on the last day of the quarter. She did not find out until the next day, by which time she had already taken a huge hit on her numbers on the last day of the quarter - she did not make bonus that quarter!
I know of a few hotels that mandate that all cutoff dates fall on Wednesdays. Sounds funny at first, but its pretty logical, as we already have a BEO distribution day, yield meeting day, staff meeting day, resume distribution day - why not 'Cutoff Day'. Its so much easier when all groups cut off on the same day of the week - that way when everyone comes into work that day they will all be thinking of which groups need to get their rooming lists in, individual rooms cut off etc etc. Interesting concept hey?!
Now of course there is the discussion regarding who should be managing the room blocks to make sure that the rooms pickup prior to the cutoff date - but that's a whole other discussion for another day!
I know, I know we all hate making solicitation calls. Many of us have relied on the steady inflow of leads over the last few years (when times were good!) to the point that we have been able to avoid making solicitation calls altogether.
Well for most of us, that steady river of leads has slowed down to barely a trickle - no surprise given the awful state of the economy. So what do we do?
SOLICIT/PROSPECT/COLDCALL etc etc
So what is the best way to prepare for a day of telephone solicitations?
Well first of all, no-one is prepared to talk to you on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon. Does this mean you get to sleep late on Mondays and hit happy hour early on a Friday??? Go ahead! While you are at it, I am going to be using this time to prep for my solicitation calls.
This means I am going to run reports from my sales database. The easiest report to start with is a report that shows business that your hotel turned away last year and the year before - assuming of course that you were logging those leads in your sales database... (I bet you wish you logged them all now, don't you!)
Using these reports I am then going to go and create an activity/trace in my sales system. Just create a generic trace and copy and paste the contents into all the accounts that you plan on calling to prospect.
I spend all Monday morning and Friday afternoon creating these traces. This way I am setting up all the calls that I am going to make during the week - during prime-selling-time. Its a whole lot easier to churn out a whole bunch of solicitation calls if the boring part of logging all the traces/activities has already been done for you when you make the call. That way all you have to do is add any additional notes, and mark the activity done ----- and then you are on the the next call.
Oh yeah, and absolutely make sure you have a head-set!