The sales close techniques are a highly discussed topic in the hotel sales in the West, which is unreasonably omitted in the domestic practice. It is so popular in the Western world, that there even appeared the tendencies denying their efficiency.
The ‘sales close’ notion is formulated by different investigators in different ways. One of the options is the ‘techniques applied by the seller to solicit the customer to make a deal’. I prefer the definition created by the SPIN technology creator, Nile Rackham, i.e. that the sales close is the receipt ofcommitments assumed by the customer. Such definition significantly expands the topic and entails the thought that such ancommitment is not necessarily the act of purchase, i.e. the sales close may not have the form of a transaction.
The commitment type strongly depends on the target established by the current interaction. Taking the examples of the hotel sales, the following targets and the inherent commitments can be listed:
Individual booking by phone:
— booking by phone with a promise to arrive or call to cancel the booking and the guarantee in the form of the guest’s phone number and name,
— booking by phone with a promise to pay the issued invoice and the guarantee in the form of the guest’s phone number and name,
— request of an individual customer calling by phone to issue an order (I don’t remember the hotel in which I encountered such a perversion),
A cold call to the corporate customer:
— clarification of the person in charge of accommodation in the organization,
— obtaining a consent to service of a commercial offer or draft agreement to the customer,
— appointment with the customer,
— appointment in the hotel,
— obtaining of a permit for free stay of the company manager in our hotel, ….
I won’t list all interaction targets, since the primary topic of this article is the sales closing at the stage of booking by phone by an individual customer, i.e. actually the sales closing techniques for the booking department.
The reason for writing of this article has become the audit of a booking department of a renowned big hotel which I called again, this time for the purpose of investigation of the use of sales closing techniques and pretended to be an undetermined potential customer. The employee of a booking department inspired me to disclose this topic not only by the fact that she didn’t have an idea of any techniques, but also suggested the other hotels to me after I asked her to.
I’m trying to put it simply, but anyway I can’t do without a theory. Sales closing is a final stage of negotiations. These stages shall be listed to understand where we are in negotiations with the customer and not to impose the sales closing in undue time.
The first stage is clarification of needs and showing of capabilities. It is the basic and extremely important part of the talk. Due to the fact that this stage is frequently omitted, I decided to list all stages. Here we should clarify the trip purpose, budget, fixed dates, number of guests, guest’s preferences (floor, room type, view from the window, need in breakfast or other catering…), need in additional services, i.e. to learn its needs so that to formulate your offer in the most efficient way. At this stage you should demonstrate the advantage of your offer, e.g. ‘we have the perfect offer for you, standard room 403, overlooking the old town, with a balcony, double bed, and its cost is within the range you announced.’
At the second stage you should make sure that all the key issues are covered, so that not allow any outstanding issues arise when you move to the subsequent stages and make you to start all over again. The rough example is when you start booking (sales closing), and in the process it becomes clear that a guest wants to check in in the morning, and not at 2.00 p.m., and it is an early check-in, which entails a 50% extra charge, and the visitor is not ready, aware of…
In order to facilitate the passage of this stage, you should carry out the first stage as skillfully as possible, and it is better to use a kind of a check-list for the first stage. Then the second stage may end with the booking officer’s question,‘Do you have any additional questions or comments?’ Youanswer the guest’s questions, and ask this question again till the guest says that all the issues are negotiated.
The third step is summarizing the benefits. Guest may not have a common understanding of all the advantages of your offer and the benefits that it receives. You should pull together and provide the guest not with a list of the advantages, but the list of benefits. The advantage is your special offer for 3 nights at the price of 2, i.e.cheaper by 1/3, and the benefit is ‘You save so much using this offer.’It means that at this point you summarize your conversation in the form of a list of benefits.
And finally, the fourth stage isoffering acommitment. Moreover, the more skillfully the previous stages have been carried out, the easier it will be to persuade the guest to declare its commitment on its part, until its request to book the room and issue the invoice as soon as possible.
And here begins the essence of this article, the sales closing techniques. There are hundreds is such techniques, and they are called differently in different places. Below I will give the most functional of them forbooking by phonefor an individual customer:
1. Offer to buy — just ask the guest if he would go to the booking without further ado. The efficient and energetic question‘Can I book a room for you?’in more than half of the cases is the best option of sales closing, if you arrived at the fourth stage.
2. The ‘limitation’ technique. The bottom line is that there are currently only few rooms for a given period, and if you do not book right now, we have two calls holding, who need the same dates.
3. Best price — your hotel offers a floating price, and now, 2 months prior to arrival, the price is the best, because in 5 minutes an order will arrive to raise the prices for this type of room for the selected dates.
4. ‘This or that?’ – ‘Therefore, I will book a standard room with a king size bed or with two separate beds’. You switch the customer’s attention from the issue whether to book or not to the fact what exactly to book.
5. Consent assumption — ‘May I record the number from which you are calling as a contact phone number in the booking?’, ‘Please, be so kind to spell your email address to which I can send a booking confirmation’. This kind of questions asked to the guest before it agreed to booking requires only a response to them, and then it will automatically agree to the booking.
6. A weight off your mind – ‘Why do you need to continue searching? You’ve got through to the right place, you should only book and forget about it.’Let the guest understand that its consent is a way to solve its problem.
7. Without a risk — ‘Let me book your order, and if something changes, you can always cancel it.’ The guest runs no risk, agreeing to the booking, and then he will forget that something can change. Psychologically, this question is decided.
8. Improper termination – ‘So you need a room from the 1st to the 2nd’ (while you know that the room is needed from the 3rdto 4th). This switches the guest’s attention to correction of the mistake immediately. ‘Oh, yes, from the 3rdto the 4th! Exactly! Can I also book a table for you in the restaurant on the 3rdevening?’
There are many techniques and everyone uses the ones which suit him/her better. Many booking agents successfully close the sales basing on the personal charisma and courage, the others can catch a guest on the word, ‘You said that you needed to have a rest with the family! Shall I book a suite or a family room for you?’ The main thing is to try the new techniques, and to try then one at a time. Upon application, the selection should be based on a real situation.If the dates are under the risk of getting hot, the technique of the ‘limitation’ shall be applied, if the guest says that has been looking for a hotel for a long time, the ‘weight off your mind’ will suit, and if he is in a doubt,‘no risk’ is the best choice. You can also use several techniques, but no more than five according to the researchers.
To end with, I should say that you should not overdo it. If you encounter a guest familiar with the sales closing techniques, he would never forgive that you dared to suggest that he would buy into this. In this case, quicklyturn the fact of techniques application into a joke earnest before the guest hung up. Say‘nice to meet a sales professional, familiar with the techniques. Let me just ask you if can I book for you, or you are going to arrive without a booking.’
As for me, as soon as I hear a professional about to flog the advertisement in the magazine to me correctly, I immediately flip him off,but it is interesting to listen to the novice doing the same with errors. So, do not overdo it.