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Is It Time To Have Another Look At Sales Appointments?

SaveTheDate2012 is fast approaching and in the last few months you have had to plan out your Sales & Marketing activities for the year.  Are Sales Appointments on your action plan?

We have organized many “sales blitzes” for hotel and CVB clients.  Over the last two years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of prospects and the number of call attempts it takes to secure one appointment.  In 2008, it typically took 15 qualified records to book one appointment.  In 2011, we saw this number increase to as high as 30 records prospected per appointment.

This trend is consistent with the “crazy-busy” behaviors that Jill Konrath describes in her book, SNAP Selling; Speed Up Sales and Win More Business from Today’s Frazzled Customers.  Prospects shy away from the face-to-face meeting with suppliers that they were not familiar with because they have too many conflicting priorities.

Even established clients are too busy to see their reps unless they have a compelling problem to solve immediately!  Long gone are the days when a sales rep could pick up the phone just a week or two prior to their sales calls.

The irony is that once you do see a prospect in person, it means they are more likely to want to do business with you.  Here are a few ideas to get to these prospects that may not be comfortable (yet) with a personal sales call:
  • Consider a Breakfast & Education Session (or, a Lunch & Learn).  Pick a hot topic, secure a guest speaker, and start promoting the event.  Initiate the nurturing process by sending strategic marketing emails regarding the event to contacts you would like to see have their meetings or events at your facility/destination.  Getting several planners in one room for this education session (and, as the sponsor, taking a few minutes to chat about what you can offer) is less threatening in a planner’s eye than having the supplier (or a delegation of salespeople!) come  to their office.
  • In our October 2011 issue of Greenfield Insights (our monthly newsletter), we spoke about one smaller destination that we helped secure registrations for a Breakfast & Education Session, and we were the guest speaker too!  There were 15 planners in the room who provided positive feedback, and one in particular had no idea that the city had enough meeting space for their conference – the destination sales reps were thrilled with this approach!
  • If you are not sure who to invite, or how to grow your list of potential attendees, invite some of your key clients and ask them to bring a planner friend from another company.  Not only will they bring attendees with them, they will be big supporters in promoting your hotel/destination to others who have yet to bring you business.  Reward them for bringing that colleague just as you would reward them for a referral.
Sales calls still play a vital role in your business development arsenal.  But salespeople need to be much more diligent about creating trust and uncovering opportunities to meet face-to-face.
How will you be meeting new contacts in 2012?