HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board (SAB) is developing resources to help hospitality organizations that are gearing up to bring back staff and hire for new positions, including sales hunters. The SAB has created a three-part series to help sales hunters improve their skills and increase their value to organizations, beginning with a checklist of best practices and now including this advice on developing prospecting skills.
What knowledge, skills, and experience do many successful sales hunters have? These seven competencies will give you a solid foundation:
1. Hunters have industry knowledge.
- Stay current in your knowledge of major customer segments.
- Read major industry publications and attend professional association meetings.
- Keep current with trends in the market.
- Participate in live and virtual industry events locally (and regionally/nationally/globally as appropriate).
- Attend local tourist promotion agency or convention and visitors bureau meetings.
- Join the closest chapter of HSMAI, MPI, PCMA, or other customer organizations. Take it up a notch and volunteer to join or lead a committee!
- Make sure you’re on the mailing list for your state tourism office.
2. Hunters demonstrate business acumen.
- Understand the business of hotels — how all the operations and functions of the hotel or company work together to make money and achieve goals and objectives.
- Appreciate which metrics reflect how each function contributes to the overall enterprise.
- Leaders who develop sound business acumen are able to sort through the noise to focus on key priorities and find solutions for business problems, then lead their team to goal achievement.
- Build your business acumen by studying the “108 Terms Every Hotel Sales Professional Needs to Know to Better Communicate With Their GMs, Asset Managers, and Owners.”
- Earn your Certified in Hospitality Business Acumen (CHBA) certification from HSMAI. The online program places participants in the seat of a general manager to make decisions on pricing, marketing, advertising, staffing, and capital investment in a live simulated competitive set over a 12-month business cycle.
3. Hunters are consultative and innovative problem solvers.
- Understand customers’ needs and challenges, and devise and demonstrate solutions that the hotel can offer.
- In your discussions with customers, take excellent notes and do not offer any solutions that you may not be able to follow through with. Do not “sell the dream” so that others have to “service the nightmare.”
- Collaborate with your GM, DOS, and/or regional DOS to develop a game plan.
4. Hunters are analytical thinkers.
- Systematically and logically tackle tasks and problems by breaking them down into manageable parts and anticipating consequences of situations.
- When confronting a problem or issue, look at each piece separately and think through what solutions make sense for each aspect of the issue.
5. Hunters are brand ambassadors.
- Do you reflect your hotel’s and/or company’s identity in appearance, demeanor, values, and ethics?
- Volunteer and participate in your community (both your geographic community and your industry community) to become a brand ambassador.
- Participate in business associations and events that will assist you in the promotion of your hotel, even if they are not tourism related. Look for opportunities to showcase your property and what you can contribute as a community partner.
6. Hunters are good communicators and presenters.
- Hunters are proficient in presenting information to groups — large and small — with clarity and confidence.
- Practice is what makes the difference between an amateur and an expert communicator and presenter. Never forgo your practice.
7. Hunters have a formal prospecting plan.
- Schedule your time.
- Target your messages — whether voice calls, emails, social media outreach, or other.
- Know the best times to make connection attempts.
- Don’t give up after three attempts — try at least six.
- Have a cadence for your outreach (every three business days, once a week, etc.).