A few weeks ago, I attended RCMA's Emerge 2013 Convention and was inspired to share some thoughts after listening to Shawna Suckow, of SPIN (Senior Planner Industry Network).
Shawna is also the author of "Planner Pet Peeves," and I commend her for capturing this sentiment so that the industry can do something about these peeves.
It's the strangest thing about habits. For example, we know things have changed and yet we still insist we do what we have always done. Like tracking prospecting calls in a world when meeting planners are not returning any calls.
But at least you can count them, so there should be some relief in that! Yes, we are in crazy times that require us to, at the very least, take a moment and consciously examine whether our habits are worth keeping. I know it's a novel idea and you may not have time for this type of reflection, but it may be the very thing that has you address the fundamental shifts that have already occurred. I don't think I need to quote Einstein here, because we all have heard that before.
So exactly what do we do differently in a world where no one is returning our calls? My suggestion is we consider three things we must do:
Recognize the world really has changed.
And so has our sales role and relationship with customers. Quantify this for yourselves, because you won't believe it nor will you be able to sell it to your stakeholders to effect real change. For example, can you take a survey of hotel sales managers and your own sales team to assess the effectiveness of their cold calling and other prospecting tactics? What percentage of the time are they getting a return call or email response?
Examine what prospecting activities are working.
Can you quantify these activities? Shawna suggests using Linkedin to connect and be a valued member of the community. Does your team know how to do that and transition to a new level of conversation?
Acquire new skills.
At Shawna's suggestion, I looked up an author she recommended, Jill Knorath who wrote SNAP Selling. I personally don't read many sales books but I listened to her 45-minute audio recording "Selling to Crazy-Busy Prospects Audio" out of her free prospecting toolkit, and I have to say, it is worth every minute if you got past number 1, and so it's a great place to start.
If you take me up on doing these three things, then I believe collectively, we're ready to take on a new level of destination expert status: one where we're adding value to our customers who have already acquired a different buying pattern.