Hotel sales consultant article by Eric von Starck of
Panetiere Marketing Advisors, summer 2004.

Eric is one our hotel sales consultants who leads hotel sales training for groups and hotel sales training one on ones for specicic markets.

Hotel Sales Team Communication with the Clients

“Communicating” for Hotel Sales Is Not Prepared Ideas That Do Not Respond To The Audience

Wouldn’t it be something if we could cram for a client meeting?

You know - be clear about everything that we were planning to tell the client about how great our property is, all the ways that we, more than our comp set, are so absolutely peachy, the best there is. Maybe we’ll work out three points that really press the point home. Then we’ll plan for a really great intro, maybe even a joke, to get the ball rolling. All we need is the bell to go and we’ll start our ten minute spiel.

Broadcasting In Isolation

And because we’ve been taught so well how to make a presentation, we’ll close with a strong “call to action”! -- If the client can make a decision right now based on all the facts that we’ve informed them of, well, we’ll actually be able to throw in a free hors d’oeuvres reception on the second day of the event.

This is communication? This is getting our clients to listen to us?

This is Indiana Jones of the Commun-ication Skills Grail. We’ll be winners on the field of communication as we joust toward the winning pennant.

All false.

Listen to such teaching at your own peril. And it will be your peril - because you are not going to be getting much business.

Effective and clear communication is predicated not on talking but on listening.

How can you listen when you’re bursting to start your spiel? How can you be relaxed and in “receive” mode if you are insistent on your own importance in the dialogue.

You are not important in the dialogue. You are the servant. You are not the master. The master is your potential client.

But you can become the master if you listen and solve the customer’s needs in an imaginative, caring way and, by that, I don’t mean one of your three talking points.

Effective sales are predicated on discovering the personal motivations of the client, the needs and aspirations of the client, and the core of the client’s business needs.

And do you think that you are selling the property?

No, the property is your prop, a prop that you are using to sell yourself. And the “self” that someone will want to buy is not someone who spouts, but who listens, shows true care, and true understanding about what the client has no clue yet that may be needed.

As a listener, you become the attractor for the client. You try do some insistent three points talk and you’ll be as effective as a car salesperson or those great salesmen - politicians. You are unique, even when your property surely is not.

So, here is an about face. Leave that Powerpoint presentation in the laptop and put them both out of sight. Take your notepad and start asking questions, interesting questions, emotive questions: not “What did you not like about the site of your last meeting?” Write the responses down, consider them. Take your time, think, probe -- trust yourself to care about what the client is giving you an inkling about. Let your mind range over more probes and follow-ups. Don’t get near that spiel.

No, don’t feel that you have to come up with some great scheme to solve the client’s needs right then and there. Sure, if something comes to mind that is a tangential solution ...put it into the “I wonder if this might help...” list.
If you must, now would be the time to reach for the laptop but only as a prop to refer to what the client’s just clued you in on.

Time for a Call to Action

But the “call to action” is for you not the client.

The call is for you to go away and design “out of the box” solutions and get an idea back to the client that day - an idea that shows that you, as a person, really did care for your client’s thoughts and that here is the beginning of a solution. Don’t even be afraid of suggesting another property, another city, if that is what you think is best. Why? Because your honor and wisdom will then be sought out again and again. One of those “agains” will be a great piece of business for your current property and your current city.

::: from Eric von Starck, Panetiere Marketing Advisors

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clear sales manager communication for hotel sales teams liaten- don't talk . then respond with imagination - that's all it takes.

care about the client more than yourself.