Fish Where The Fish Are Biting
By Tom Costello
As we move into open waters, the captain has a pretty good idea where schools of fish may be located but to make sure he is successful in identifying exactly where they are he uses an onboard fish finder to pinpoint their exact location.
Now that the captain has found the fish, he circles the school and his deckhand throws bait into the water that will attract the fish in order to keep them within close proximity to the boat.
At the captain's signal, we cast our baited hooks into the water and voila, we catch fish.
Using this simple analogy, your job as a hotel sales manager is to put yourself in places where you can identify and connect with prospective customers but often you spend a great deal of time and effort prospecting in places where you are destined to come home with an empty stringer.
Here are some fishing holes where you will have the best chance of landing a lunker!
Your hotel's Customer Relationship Management system - Now hold on a minute. Your CRM contains customers, leads, and prospects galore BUT do you spend the necessary time that it takes to keep in constant contact with your customers, nurturing leads, and calling on prospects to identify what it will take to win their business?
Do you work your customer database both vertically and horizontally? What other meeting planners are with the XYZ Corporation's Sales & Marketing department that you need to meet? Are there other admins that you should invite to your hotel for lunch followed by a site inspection? What events does the President's executive secretary plan in addition to the company's Christmas party?
Keep in mind that when you contact customers, leads, and prospects, you need to have a strategy in place that will allow you to penetrate that account from a variety of angles that include telephone, direct marketing, email, social media, etc. If you rely heavily on email and social media to communicate your value proposition with customers and prospects without identifying their needs, pain, and challenges, that campaign will end up in the round file and you have wasted both your time and your prospect's time.
Customer internal and external referrals – Let's say you work for an independent hotel and it is safe to assume that some of your happy and satisfied customers will never return again due to the nature of their business or their geographical requirements.
What other meeting planners do those customers know who might be holding a future meeting or event in your area? Would he/she be amenable to posting a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile or better yet, share a testimonial with other planners that you could attach to your email signature line?
Referrals from other sales people who call on the same market – How many sales people and vendors call on your hotel every day, week, month, and year? Do they serve other customers that may be a candidate to put heads in your hotel's beds? Networking and referrals are a great way to generate new business but keep in mind it is a two-way street so let it be known that you will reciprocate if and when the time comes.
Speaking engagements – You don't have to be a member of a speakers bureau, belong to Toastmasters International, or published a book in order to speak at a luncheon or other gathering that could include your next customer. The hotel business is one of the most interesting industries in the world and I am confident that there are plenty of funny and compelling stories to share about 'a life in the day of a hotel sales manager'.
Family & friends, your church, business & networking clubs, associations, trade shows, the Internet, and don't forget social media channels.
If you are not yet established as a member of the LinkedIn community you need to get onboard and figure out how to immerse yourself in various groups and become an influencer within those groups. If you are new to LinkedIn or simply want to invest more time growing within the community, here is a list of 100+ Ways to Use LinkedIn that can get you moving in the right direction.
Fish Where the Fish are Biting is just one of the subjects I cover in my new educational workshop Mapping the Course that is specifically designed to help hotel sales managers grow their business and generate more sales.