Hospitality Sales Superstars Use a Flat List

Hotel sales managers use a flat list

The best hospitality sales people use a flat list

If you’ve been following along with my weekly training, you’ve learned that the best hospitality sales managers make use of what I like to call “a flat list.” Let me share with you how we made that determination.

HINT: You do not create a flat list this way.

hospitality sales flat list

Many years ago, after launching my hospitality sales training and consulting company, we undertook a real in-depth examination of what made the truly great hospitality sales managers as good as they were. This study included hospitality sales managers from a wide variety of markets and property types. We looked at the great sales folks from big city hotels and suburban hotels. We looked at the characteristics of hospitality sales managers that worked for beach properties and in ski areas, those that had casinos and those that didn’t, etc.

The result was a list of traits that great hospitality sales managers used to consistently smash quota year in and year out.

The entire concept of the flat list is one that applies equally well to other industries, not just to hospitality sales. We’ve consulted with lots of sales experts in other fields, and the flat list concept for great sales people is one that crosses into all markets.

So what is the flat list that hospitality sales managers use? It’s really nothing fancy at all in its format. It’s typically on a yellow pad of paper, but if you want to make it fancier, you can even write down the list on a white pad of paper — amazing!

It can also be done on a computer, of course.

If you are a hospitality sales manager with Marriott you have the Marsha system, and others of you may have Delphi. They each have a flat list available in there. It may be called a:

  • “hit list”
  • a “prospect list” or
  • a “new client list.”

Call it whatever you like, but I just call it a flat list. To be blunt, I don’t know where the name came from, but who really cares?

It’s odd though. When we did our groundbreaking analysis out in the real world of hospitality sales, every single sales person who consistently beat their quota month in and month out had a flat list.

Interestingly, we found that these hospitality sales managers also placed it on the upper-left hand corner of their desk. Please don’t ask me why. I couldn’t even begin to explain it, but I do know that desk placement is not crucial. So I don’t care where you put it, but your boss should be able to come up to your desk at any time and say, “Please let me see your flat list.”

Now, he or she is not really checking on you to make sure you have a flat list — that should be a given.

But your manager wants to see if he/she knows anybody on your flat list you can get some backup or additional information for your call. Or if you’re going to make an outside call on this prospect, your manager might help greatly if he/she comes along with you.

So that’s what the director of sales, the GM, director of catering, or whoever you report to should be looking for and at.

Obviously your hospitality sales manager should be looking at list volume to a certain degree to be sure your pipeline of prospective clients is full. But this is key: putting the flat list together is easy for the hospitality sales manager to do. However, finding the time to call those people is what’s difficult.

Be sure to check out my other blog posts to see how you should be doing that.


Posted 5/21/14

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