Group Sales Skills

Sales and Catering Managers Sales Process Overview

When you are dealing with a Sales or Catering inquiry, the following are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind to ensure you are working with your customers as effectively as possible.

Greeting:

  • Take control of the call from the very beginning.  Don’t let the customer control you and the call.
  • Make sure the customer knows who they are dealing with!  Introduce yourself and who you are.
  • Build rapport whenever possible.  It will help you throughout the sales process.
  • Find out the customers name early on and use it frequently.
  • Get off to a good start, convey a friendly, professional, and welcoming demeanor.

Qualifying:

  • The first step you should do is to qualify the caller’s needs before you present the hotel and attempt to close. If you move into your presentation before doing this, you don’t know what is important to the caller, so you can’t tailor their presentation according to their needs.
  • Preface your qualification with a statement, letting the customer know that you have some questions to ask. Gaining their agreement to do so, will make you feel more comfortable in asking your questions. For example, “We’d love to work with you on this meeting, Ms. Davis. I’d like to ask you some questions, so I have a good understanding of what you are looking for. This way I can put together the best possible pricing package for you. Would that be all right?”
  • Use a good mix of both open and closed probes. Asking strictly close ended questions can give your customer the feeling they are being interrogated and is less friendly. Open ended questions creates the situation where your customer is talking more than you are. Often you learn more as a result.
Close Ended
Open Ended
Are you going to have lunch? Tell me about your food & beverage needs
Will you be paying for the rooms? How would you like billing to be handled?
Will you need audio visual equipment? What type of audio visual needs will you have?
  • To become more proficient at using open ended probes, write out the list of questions you typically ask your customers. Then label them open or close ended. Next reword some of these questions to ensure a good mix of open and close ended questions. Practice this list until it becomes natural. Often you may not realize that you are using primarily close ended questions and this helps correct this.
  • Uncover more than just the basics needed to check space. Going the extra mile during the course of the call to uncover your customer’s needs and wants enables you to excel in your qualification. This helps you know your customer well, so you can sell as effectively as possible to them. Without this insight, it is more difficult to provide an interesting and effective presentation. It makes the difference between doing an average, or good job and doing a great job in qualifying.
  • Look at how you are wording your questions so you do not sound like you are obviously going through a check-list. Technically you may score well, but to excel you want to qualify in a conversational way without the customer feeling interrogated.

Presenting:

  • Ideally the presentation should be given AFTER you have uncovered the caller’s needs. You should be proactive in offering a presentation, rather than the customer having to lead the conversation.
  • The presentation is more effective if it addresses the caller’s buy factor!!  This makes it more interesting and will entice the customer to listen to you.
  • Try to find out if other facilities are being considered. Then take a moment to sell against the competition in a positive fashion. This way you help convince the caller that your hotel is the best option. This is not done easily without advance preparation.  Take time to work out your strategy of how you will sell against each of your competitors.  Practice your strategy until you become comfortable with it and can do it easily.  You will definitely be more effective at selling against the competition if you take these steps to prepare.
  • “Sell”, don’t just “tell” about the hotel. This is achieved by using both features and benefit statements.
Feature
Benefit
Our hotel is located minutes from the airport.
  • You will not have to be bothered with trying to arrange transportation.
  • It will be very quick and easy to get everyone back and forth between the airport and hotel.
We have high speed internet connection in all of our guest rooms.
  • Your guests will be able to access the internet and their email much more quickly and easily versus using a dial up modem.
  • If your guests have to download files, they will be able to do so quickly.
We have 32 different meeting rooms of varying sizes.
  • We can accommodate all sizes of groups.
  • You will have plenty of rooms available for your breakout needs.

 

  • Ensure your presentation is understandable and interesting where it helps entice the customer to book.
  • When it is a catering shop, we look for the manager to use enticing descriptions of menu options before quoting pricing. You should also explain everything that is included in the price. This helps convey price value and ensure the customer knows what they will be receiving for the dollars being spent.
  • When it is a catering shop, take time to sell the quality of the hotel’s service levels, food, and function room. This helps convince them to choose the hotel and will help convey price value.

Handling Objections:

  • When responding to an objection  convey empathy and confirm why the caller is objecting. Examples might be: 1) Ask, ” What kind of budget are you trying to work with?” 2) Ask, “Why do you feel this pricing is too high?” 3) Ask, ” Can you tell me what it is you are looking for?” 4) Ask, “Can you share with me a little more about why you are concerned about (x)?”
  • Ideally first try to sell the caller on the pricing by pointing out the value it offers. If successful, this may eliminate the need to discount. Or it minimizes the amount of discounting required. It also helps maintain price integrity.
  • You do not have to lower the pricing to overcome the objection. In fact, if you lower it right away for NO reason at all, it may not be in the best interest of the hotel. Basically if you lower it, you should try to give a plausible reason for doing so to maintain price integrity.
  • If holding firm to the quoted price, be empathetic, reinforce the hotel’s strengths, and explain it is the best pricing in a persuasive or “selling” manner instead of just saying “That’s the best price we can do.”
  • A trial close question should be used to ensure the objection was overcome. For example, “Do you think this pricing will work for you?” …..or…… “How does that sound?”…..or….. “Will that work?”

Closing:

  • Use trial closing questions prior to leading into a close. If one or more trial closes are used the manager receives a yes on question #1. For example, “Does it sound like this will work for your group?”
  • It can help to lead into the close by briefly recapping key feature and benefits the customer agreed would work for them. It doesn’t have to be a detailed listing of the hotel’s features and benefits. Just a few points that the customer had agreed was important.
  • It is best to confirm the next step and offer collateral and a proposal/contract. This way you are gaining agreement from the caller to proceed to the next step and is getting information in their hands which helps the closing process.
  • Confirming when to follow-up ensures a decision date is not missed, and helps give a lead-in on the follow-up call.

Follow-up:

  • Make your correspondence well written and tailored to what was discussed, versus being a generic form letter.
  • Make your correspondence help continue to “sell” for you by highlighting key features and benefits the customer will receive that pertain to their needs.
  • Make your correspondence or proposal eye-catching and different.  This will help generate interest and set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Don’t drop the ball by leaving it up to the customer to call you back.  Be proactive in following through on the sale.  It will establish confidence and respect from your customer.  It will also help outsell the competition.
  • If the business is lost, it does not mean you will never get business from this account.  Probe to find out about future opportunities and when you can touch base in the future if appropriate.

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