Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Relationship selling is key to hospitality sales, repeat business

How good could you be at hospitality sales if you got all the breaks, did your very best and applied yourself? Each of us has to answer that question about our own ability to build business for the properties we represent.

Whether we are the owner, general manager, sales manager, front-office salesperson or involved in any other aspect of guest contact, one area of great concern should be where we are in the business of relationship selling. A relationship-selling professional is the person who believes that selling by persuasion alone is not the key to long-term business building. We surely are not in the business of talking people into buying just one time. The idea is to build the relationship with guests so that they become loyal to the property or brand and provide referrals.

So, how do we go about doing this? The key to relationship selling is to build competencies in a variety of skill areas. According to Jim Cathcart, author of "The Eight Competencies of Relationship Selling," there are eight skill areas that are necessary to develop and implement in professional selling. They are:

* Preparation: What skills or habits could you acquire to raise your sales readiness to its highest level?

* Targeting: What resources, strategies, systems and habits could you cultivate to assure that you are always focused on the best prospects for your business?

* Connecting: Which skills and traits could you cultivate that would cause others to want to do business with you?

* Assessing: What qualities and expertise could you develop in order to be aware of not only what someone needs, but also what they want?

* Solving: Which attributes could you develop that would increase your ability to convince others to take the actions that were best for them?

* Committing: What behavior and processes could you encourage that would cause others to trust you enough to say "yes" and mean it?

* Assuring: What process could you implement that would make people remain satisfied with their decision to do business with you?

* Managing: What systems, habits, resources and schedules could you put in place to assure that you are always doing well and consistently getting better?

When we take a look at these eight areas of competencies, they look obvious to us and we know that we have been practicing a variety of skills reflected in these areas. To what extent, however, have we been successful in building long-term business for our properties by effectively using these skills?

How good we are at sales really needs to be measured by the lifetime value of an account. People with whom I have done business over my years in hospitality sales are still in touch with me today, even though most of them have been retired for quite some time. Not only have they been long-time users of the properties I represented over the years, but have become lifetime friends. This is what relationship selling is all about.

For more information on Cathcart's book or weekly e-mail offerings, contact the Cathcart Institute at (800) 222-4883 or e-mail info@cathcart.com. hmm@advanstar.com