Monthly Archives: August 2012

4 Email Fails That Sales Managers Must Avoid

Email is arguably the number one tool used for prospecting yet many hotel sales managers remain in the dark about how to harness this powerful tool’s full potential that can turn a cold contact into a lead.

Why?  

Because the key element, and one that will get the attention of your recipient, is that it must be about your prospect and what problems you and your hotel can solve for him.

What I see, from the hundreds of emails that I receive each year from hotel sales managers, is quite the opposite.

Here is just one example that includes all of the components of a typical email fail that hotel sales managers must avoid.

Subject: Looking for a new venue?

Greetings Tom,

I wanted to touch base with you and introduce myself as the Sales Manager, I am the primary contact for any guestrooms and event needs. I want to know how I might win your business and would like to hear your needs and priorities.  I’ve included some information on the XYZ Hotel, attached you will find:

§  Our XYZ Hotel Power Point on the Transformation

§  Our Latest Incentive

§  We offer specific Meeting Incentives, too!

To be inspired, I invite you to take a journey about XYZ Hotel’s warm, connected, community style, check out our website at http://www.xyzhotel.com.  I would love the opportunity to develop a memorable event for you, please let me know what is most important to you when selecting a hotel and if you have any upcoming hotel requests. 

Experience our relaxing environment while familiarizing your mind to endless potential with XYZ Hotel. XYZ has completed a fabulous transformation that I would love to update you on!  Please let me know when a convenient time might be that I may contact you to discuss.

Enjoy your day!

Fail #1 – A Weak Subject Line

Don’t assume that the email recipient is just sitting around waiting to receive your pitch so you have to catch their attention with something more impactful than “Looking for a new venue?”.  Since your profession is sales and not copywriting, it is important to know as much as 40 percent of a recipient’s decision to open an email is based on the subject as well as you, the sender.

If you want your email to be read, you should ask yourself the following questions before you start writing the content of your email.

  • Does the subject offer the prospect a reward for reading? (WII-FM What’s in it for me?)
  • Can specifics be included to make the email subject more intriguing, believable and credible?
  • Will the subject trigger a strongly positive, actionable emotion for the prospect?
  • Will the subject topic immediately resonate with prospect?
  • Could the email subject benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction?
  • Could an element of intrigue be added to drive the prospect into opening the copy?

You should spend half of the entire time that it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on your subject line. So if you have a message that is important to you and your hotel, one that you really want recipients to read, you should obsess over your subject line.

Here are some ideas about subject lines that you will want to avoid and subject lines that can increase your open rate.

Fail #2 – The Body of the Email

If I have seen one I have seen a thousand emails from hotel sales managers that sell the features and benefits of their hotel with the hope of enticing a prospect to pick up the phone and say “Golly gee, send me a contract!”.

Those of you who still pitch features and benefits instead of uncovering problems, suffer with this email blunder the most.  The problem is that features and benefits are not solutions, and you cannot present a solution until you find a need, and you cannot find a need until you unearth the problem.

Ask yourself are your email campaigns solving problems or are they providing information overload that leads a prospect to redirect your email to his trash folder?

Remember the line in the hotel sales manager’s email above that said I want to know how I might win your business and would like to hear your needs and priorities?”

When you send prospects an email pitch, don’t forget that it is your responsibility to move them through your sales pipeline.

The best way to “connect”, uncover a need, and win a piece of business is to PICK UP THE PHONE AND FIND OUT!

Fail #3 – Email Signature Essentials

Hotel sales managers do a pretty good job at including most of their important signature information such as name, title, hotel name, mailing address, phone, fax, email address, website address, tag line, and logo.  For those of you who don’t include these contact essentials, make a note to do so before your next email.

Since most of you have expressed the need to hop on the social media bandwagon, where in the world is your corporate Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn links?  If you are not banned by your hotel management company or corporate office from including such information, add it.

If you have Windows and are running Microsoft Outlook – the following link shows you how to set up your signature:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP052427461033.aspx

If you have a Mac – the following link shows you how to set up your signature:
http://smokingapples.com/software/tips/html-signature-apple-mail/

Fail #4 – The Shotgun Approach

If you rely on a shotgun approach (pulling email addresses of current and prospective customers from your CRM system and sending them what you feel is a value proposition) you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Yes it is a numbers game, as far as you or your marketing department are concerned, but you will be clueless about the prospect’s potential if he does not respond to your message or value proposition.

The solution to this trigger happy approach is to pull the list from your system and divide it into three categories that starts with “A” (your high-target prospects) through “C” (those that have a lowest probability of converting).

On Wednesday or Thursday following the distribution of your email, PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL your “A” and “B” lists to find out what their status is and if and when your hotel or destination might be under consideration and ask an additional question or two that can reveal other opportunities (another one of your hotels in another city perhaps).

If you have not received a response from your “C” list you can elect to call them or send them a point-and-click survey in thirty days (SurveyMonkey as an example) that can help to identify if you have any real chance of converting them now or in the not-too-distant future.

Email Fails are just one of the subjects I cover in my new workshop – Mapping the Course that is specifically designed to help hotel sales managers achieve their personal and professional goals.

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement firm, that helps hotels and their sales managers grow their business and generate more revenue.

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The Importance Of Setting Goals – How To Get Them Out Of Your Head And On Paper

When someone decides to create a company, one of the first orders of business is to develop a business plan.

A business plan is a road map, in writing, that serves as the foundation of the business and sets forth the goals and objectives that are projected to be achieved over a five-year period.

If a company does a good job at creating and carrying out the plan, the business has a better chance in succeeding as compared to those that don’t.

Setting goals is very much like creating a business plan isn’t it?

It is a plan that defines who you are, your marketing strategies, customer analysis, identifying your competition, an action plan, and what income you will generate from the fruits of your labor.

But are your goals in your head or are they goals, in writing, that will keep you on a path toward achieving those goals every day, week, month, quarter, and year?

In the book, “What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School”, Mark McCormack tells about a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.

And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals?

They were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

Now that we understand the importance of setting goals let us look at the components that comprise goal setting.

  • Set goals that motivate you – Motivation is key to achieving your goals.
  • Set realistic goals – It’s important to set goals that you can achieve and a manageable number of goals that you can achieve within a specified time period.
  • Prioritize your goals – When you have several goals, prioritize them. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals and helps to focus your attention on the most important ones.
  • Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times, and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Share your plan – It is helpful when you share your plan with family, associates or friends.  This will keep you in check with yourself because you have told someone else that you are going to do something.
  • Display your goals– Display your goals or goal statements in a prominent spot at your desk or carry them with you so that you will be continually reminded of your goals and timelines.

Here are five steps to help you get your thoughts on paper.

  1. Find a quiet place where you can give serious thought to what you are about to commit to.  Bring only yourself, a pad of paper, a couple of pens, and leave your cell phone behind.  Block out ample time that will allow you to get your thoughts on paper without being distracted.
  2. Once you are settled in ask yourself what do you really want to achieve over the next five years?  In addition to your career goals, consider your physical, financial, relationships, family, spiritual, social, and any other goals that you want to achieve.  Write down every goal that comes to mind no matter what the goal may be.
  3. After you have compiled your master list of goals, schedule a revisit in one week to make sure that the goals that you have identified are the ones that motivate you and are achievable.
  4. Create a one-year, six-month, and a one-month plan with which to achieve your goals.  Then create a daily to-do list of the things that you should do today in order to achieve your goal.
  5. Once you have a plan in place start working on it to achieve your goals.  Periodically re-evaluate your plan and tweak it if and when necessary.

The Importance of Setting Goals is just one of the areas addressed in my new workshop for hotel Sales Managers – ‘Mapping the Course‘.

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement firm, that helps hotels grow their business and generate more revenue.

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Are You Ready To Change The Perception Of Order-Taker Into Sales-Maker?

I don’t know what has happened to some hotel sales managers recently but their lack of interest and/or response to a piece of business leads me to question if they have become order-takers and not sales-makers?

Case in point.

Today, most Request for Proposals (RFPs) are distributed through e-channels such as Cvent and StarCite’s MPoint.  Because these channels allow meeting and event planners to point and click their way through the search and distribution process doesn’t change the steps that need to take place once the RFP hits the sales manager’s inbox.

But often what follows is a complete mystery to me.  No call, no “reach out” and little to no interaction from the sales manager regarding the lead.  Continually awaiting a response.  The response deadline missed. And in some cases, no response at all.

I get it that some hotel pipelines are bursting with e-leads, staff has been reduced, and planners who overload the system due to a “shotgun” approach but it doesn’t change the opportunity to explore the possibilities, nurture a relationship or close a deal.

The more a sales manager hides behind the electronic distribution veil, the more apt they are to be categorized as an order-taker.

So what are the differences between an order-taker and a sales-maker?

Order-takers use email as their primary means to “connect” and “communicate” with a prospect.

Sales-makers use the telephone.

Order-takers would rather work on incoming business than prospect for new business.

Sales-makers don’t wait around for business to come to them; they are hunters.

Order-takers sell features and benefits.

Sales-makers solve problems.

Order-takers give information.

Sales-makers get more information than they give.

Order-takers sell price.

Sales-makers sell value.

Order-takers avoid prospect interaction like the plague, especially when that prospect is coming from an electronic channel.

Sales-makers reach out, engage, and interact with the prospect no matter where the lead comes from.

Order-takers use electronic distribution channels as a crutch because it provides them with another excuse why they can’t level playing field.

Sales-makers are adept at finding out what makes the prospect tick and will provide all of the necessary information and insight that will get him engaged in the sales process.

Order-takers want to make a contribution. They just don’t want to put in the sweat equity that is required.

Sales-makers are ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to open the door or close the sale.

Order-takers believe that if the prospect likes them it will seal the deal.

Sales-makers believe that if the hotel can’t stand up and deliver on what the prospect expects and deserves, then there is no deal.

Order-takers are controlled by their clients.

Sales-makers focus on what the customer needs, not what the customer asks for.

Order-takers don’t value the prospect/hotel relationship that serves as the catalyst that opens opportunities.

Sales-makers possess the drive and ambition that demonstrate that the prospect’s business is valued by both the sales manager and their hotel.

How to Change the Perception of Order-takers Into Sales-makers is just one of the areas addressed in my new workshop for hotel Sales Managers – ‘Mapping the Course‘.

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement consulting firm that specializes in the hospitality and travel verticals.

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Five Key Elements Of A Personal Plan When Changing Careers

Changing careers is exciting and fulfilling, no matter what the economic times, and it’s a small price to pay to find a rewarding career, reinvent yourself or open that business you’ve always dreamed of.

Making a career change without a personal plan is like making a conscious decision to skydive without a parachute.  Every successful change can take weeks, even months to prepare for but if you don’t have a personal plan in place you could end up adrift or accepting a job that didn’t reflect your goals and intentions.

Here are five key elements that should be included in your personal plan,

1. Your committment to change.  One of the first things that you need to consider is your level of committment.  How committed are you to making a change?  If you are not 100 percent sure that you are ready to make a change, don’t make one.  The best time for a ‘gut check’ is right now.  Explore the Internet.  Take a personality test.  Enroll in a class or get a certificate.  You will find the more you invest in your committment to change, the more committed to the cause you will become.

Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. suggests that your first step in planning a career change is to assess your ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’.  “A lot of people change careers because they dislike their job, their boss, their company. So, identifying the dislikes is often the easier part of this step; however, you will not know what direction to change your career unless you examine your likes. What do you really like doing when you’re at work, when you’re at home – in your spare time. What excites you and energizes you?

2. Asses your professional skills.  Are you a butcher, baker or a candlestick maker?  If these professions no longer appeal to you, find something that excites you even if it means that you have to go back to school and learn a new craft.  Identify what excites you the most and find a career that reflects your new-found passion.

Here are some free tests that you can take provided by CareerPath.com that can help you if you are just starting out, considering a career change, or curious about your career path.

3. Place yourself on a well-travelled path.  Find successful people who are currently associated with the career change you wish to pursue.  Call, write, email, and meet them in person and ask for guidance.  People are generally eager to assist and you will eventually find someone who is willing to help and can offer the type of guidance you are seeking.

Here are 10 tips to help you find a mentor.

4. The consequences of change.  How will this new career effect you, your family, and those you love?  Are you ready to travel and to do what it takes to make your new career a success?  Do you have kids in school who may be adversely affected by a change in jobs or potential relocation that goes along with it?  Do you have the support of your husband or wife and are they ready, willing, and able to support you through thick and thin?

Here are 10 career change mistakes to avoid.

5. Get support.  Change is not easy and you will need the support of family and friends who will help you remain positive, move forward, and overcome obstacles.  Keep them in the loop with your career change and thank them for being there when you needed them most.

Five Key Elements of a Personal Plan is just one of the areas addressed in my new workshop for hotel Sales Managers – ‘Mapping the Course‘.

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement firm, that helps hotels grow their business and generate more revenue.

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