The WOW Factor – The Power Selling Partnership of GMs and Sales - By Carol Verret

- Many hotel General Managers underestimate the power of their positions. In the day to day running of a hotel it is easy to lose perspective of how the hotel team and more importantly the customer perceives the General Manager.

Their perception is that the GM is the ultimate authority in a hotel.  To the guest, the GM can fix anything and make anything happen in his or her hotel.   Now while many GM’s probably have a wry smile on their faces as they read this, GMs often don’t use the power of the position to leverage sales.

When I ask this question of GMs at seminars “How many of you can name your top ten accounts?’  I get a lot of hands raised.  When is ask “How many of your can name the sales contact at these accounts?” about half of the hands go down.  When I ask the question “How many of you have spoken to the sales contact of your top accounts in the last three months?”  I usually see only one or two at best and some of those may be exaggerating!.

The Feedback I’m getting from many corporate offices is that they would like to see their GMs more involved in sales, out on sales calls.  Many GMs get so caught up in the day to today issues in their hotel that by the time they have everything settled it is past five and too late! 

There are some very simple things GMs can do to support the sales process in just a few hours a week:

One Call a Day.  Focus calls to your top accounts take very little time.  When the GM calls, introduces him or herself and then asks “How well are we serving you and your guests?” it is likely to be met with a moment of silence because the contact is so startled and impressed.   Now this is the big – The GM says “I want to give you my direct line and my cell phone number so if you can’t get a situation resolved, you can call me directly.”  Because no one else in the market is probably doing this, the GM has just ‘bullet proofed’ the account from the competition.  Every client is impressed to have a direct line to the boss!

Stop in on Site Inspections.  Yes, the GM is a busy person but just stopping by the table at a lunch or catching up with the sales person on a property tour to introduce themselves and indicate the he or she would very much hope that they choose this hotel can make a huge impact.  The following is probably an apocryphal story.  A large account in a market was conducting site inspections prior to choosing a hotel.   They walked in to the Marriott and the GM walked up to the leader of the group with a cell phone and said “It’s for you.” At the other end of the phone was Mr. Marriott who indicated how much this hotel would appreciate their business.  Who do you think got the account? 

Going on Sales Calls to Target Accounts.  It can make all the difference in ‘tipping’ the account when the GM accompanies the sales person on a sales call to a target account that has not committed.    They are so impressed to have the ultimate decision maker in on terms of negotiation that they may be less hard on the ‘boss’ than they would on the sales person. 

The GM Close.   When a contact is wavering and hasn’t made a decision the personal guarantee of the GM can make all of the difference.  If the GM can’t be there in person, a short video of the GM surrounded by the rest of the team indicating that if the prospect chooses their hotel, he/she will  personally guarantee that their function runs perfectly or they will make it right.  All this requires is a Flip Cam and three minutes of time for the department heads and the Gm to make this video – but how impressive would that be!

Cultivate Contacts One Level up from the Sales Contacts in all Key Accounts.  This ensures that should the sales contact at the account leaves or the hotel sales person departs, there is another contact with a strong connection to the hotel.   For local accounts, this can be done through business functions such as the Chamber.  For distant accounts, find out who the sales contact reports to then call them with the pitch indicating that you want them to know how much the hotel appreciates their business. 

Any one of these could ‘tip’ an account in your favor.  All of the above in combination creates a WOW factor that would be very hard for any competitor to overcome.  The competition won’t know what hit them!

Join me in Minneapolis on March 4 for a live full day seminar program, Power Selling - Recovery Strategies, at the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport - Mall of America.  Click here for details.

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