Hotel Sales Super Star

09/15/2010

12 Comments

 

Cut out the Middle Man!

In my previous article I talked about how it in today’s business environment it is absolutely critical that you are the first responder for all incoming leads.  First response equals significantly increased chance of winning the business.

In recognition of this, most hotels have written in to policy that Sales Managers must respond to all leads within a given timeframe (eg. Crowne Plaza has the 2 hour response guarantee).
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It’s all well and good to require Sales Managers to respond within this timeframe, but what can frustrate this process is if there are roadblocks that hold up the lead from getting to the Sales Manager as fast as it should.

Many hotels have all leads coming through to one centralized person who then assigns them to the Sales Managers.  But what happens when that person steps away from their desk?  Maybe they only go to the bathroom and are gone 10 minutes, but that is a 10 minute head start just given to the completion!

Even if you have a sales admin whose primary responsibility is to assign these leads, you are still adding valuable minutes to the lead response time.  Because even if they work at lightning speed they are still not faster than the lead going directly to the correct Sales Manager immediately.

In many cases that I know of, that central person is often the Director of Sales.  Surely with all of their additional responsibilities this is the worst possible person.  If you are Director of Sales you are the last person that would want to be holding up the lead response!

I know there is no simple answer, but the goal always needs to be to get the lead to the responder as fast as possible.   MeetingBroker (yes I know I am biased!) has fabulous assignment rules that automatically send leads directly to the appropriate Sales Manager (eg. assign all leads with a Corporate market segment with more than 50 rooms on peak to John). 

One other way is set up your online lead channels to send the leads directly to a Sales person rather than a lead catcher.  Sites like theKnot.com are a no brainer – this site should absolutely be sending the leads directly to your Catering Sales Manager who handles the Weddings market.  If 90% of your StarCite leads are for the Association market, then you may as well have them go directly to your Association Sales Manager.
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One other solution that is a little more out of the box is to give the responsibility of responding to all incoming leads to one dedicated individual.  I have seen this managed in a many different ways and all have worked well.  One hotel group that I know of split their sales team in to two separate teams – Reactive Sales and Proactive Sales.  That way the reactive sales team is entirely focused on responding to those incoming leads – which in turn means a faster response.  Other properties give the responsibility for responding to all leads to one person each day and rotate the responsibility around.

One other hotel I know of has all incoming electronic leads come through to a generic email address.  This email inbox is then shared (possible if you use Outlook) with all Sales Managers so everyone can see if there is a lead sitting there that needs a response.

However you achieve this will depend on your sales team dynamic, but the goal absolutely has to be on minimizing the number of people that have to handle the lead prior to its response.  If you have people that are receiving leads and then passing those leads on to other people to respond then you are definitely slowing down the lead response time.

So have a look at your lead assignment process today – cut out the middle man so that your Sales Managers can receive the leads as fast as possible.  One less excuse for not responding to the lead FIRST!