Sources for a hotel sales flat list

Flat list sources

In my hotel sales training I often talk about the flat list, which is a list of new, previously unsold accounts that the sales manager should work from each day.

The question arises, “What does a hotel sales manager use as sources for the flat list?”

One of the first sources for our hotel sales flat list would be to seek referrals from current customers. You want to contact your best clients on a regular basis, as a good business practice, not just to build your flat list. Calling hotel sales clients to continue to establish personal repoire, seeing how you can meet their needs, asking them about the lives, etc.  If you know your best hotel sales customers well then you should feel free to ask, “While I have you on the phone you’re a very satisfied customer here, aren’t you? And you know I always try to help you in any way I can? I was hoping you could help me out. You know, we’re always looking for new hotel sales customers. Could you give me the names of other people that you may know in the organizations you are a member of (MPI, the state society of association execs, at PCMA, chamber mixers, etc.)? And if have a personal relationship with them, would it be okay to use your name?”  (Remember… this will work best if you know the customer well, if not, it may be a bit presumptuous.)

Our experience tells us that if these hotel sales clients know you well, they’re happy to give you that information: “Oh, you absolutely have to call Anna, Anna’s fantastic!”

Put that name on your flat list. This is the easiest phone call you’ll ever make. “Hi, Anna, this is Steve Steinhart at the XYZ Hotel. I just got off the phone with Elizabeth, and Elizabeth said I should maybe call you.”

“Oh, I love Elizabeth, how is Elizabeth?”

“Oh, she’s awesome, you know, she’s one of my best customers, in fact I’m having her over for lunch next Wednesday, would you like to join us?”

This is the easiest phone call you could possibly make, yet how often do we do that?   By the way… This is called classical networking. It’s a bit of old school, but it sure beats spending the day on line searching for new business…

There are dozens of sources to share about how to find new business on the internet, but we’ll get to that later.

Another source for your flat list: your competition. Do you know who’s using your competitor? How many of you subscribe to Knowland Group and Insight?  It is an amazing tool. If you’re not using Insight or some similar reader board capturing program, you’re really at a huge disadvantage. So what do you do with that information? What’s the first thing you do when you see that IBM is using the Rose room at the hotel across the street and you have a meeting room the exact same size as the Rose Room? What’s the first thing you do? Put it on your flat list! The problem is, if you call it, you don’t know what to say, you don’t have anything to say, and here’s the key: most of us would get excited about finding IBM at the competitor’s Rose Room and we would pick up the phone and we would start talking…and you would have no idea what really to talk about. That’s where almost all salespeople make their mistake.

When you’re just talking to the client, have you learned anything about how the prospect selects a hotel or what their decision-making process is?

Probably not, so I probably just ruined my best opportunity to make a positive first impression and demonstrate I’m bona fide. So don’t pick up the phone yet. You’ve got to do your research first.

Posted 6/4/12

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