With our recent move to the fascinating city of Hong Kong, I had to take many buying decisions. From buying new appliances to hunting new furniture, it was interesting to observe sales people’s attempts to close the sale (or lack thereof) following my buying signals.
Hong Kong is a fabulous playground to observe selling skills. Lively markets invite to loud haggling and direct negotiations, while elegant luxury companies practice quiet restraint. The success for a hotel sales person lies - as is often the case - in the middle.
What struck me is that all too often, sales people shy away from asking for the sale at all. Isn’t this odd? In sales, it is our job to ask for the sale. The art lies in recognizing when the right moment to ask for the sale has come. When a sales professional doesn’t develop a sensitivity for this, she will find herself in awkward situations and eventually shy away from addressing the sales transaction directly.
All planning in sales leads up to the point of asking for the sale. Selling is the most important part of your job. NEVER leave a sales meeting without asking for a sales commitment. Never! During your sales presentation the client will react to what you are presenting and often comment. These comments or statements can be “buying signals” and are clues to whether your client is ready to close the deal. The process is to look for these signals and then ask for the business.
Here are the most important buying signals that you should look out for and be ready to react to:
1. Expression of Desire
You pulled off a great presentation and handled customer objections well. The client starts imagining his event at your property - a promising sign that he is ready to close!
Client: “I love these charger plates. I would like to use these for our Sales Team dinner.”
You: “I agree they would look fabulous. May I confirm that you have decided for our hotel? That would be great!”
Client to a colleague: “Andrea, can you take note that we would like to hold our reception in the meeting space with natural daylight?”
You: “I will check whether this is available for the date of your event. So do you agree that we would be the ideal fit for this program?”
Client: “That’s a great idea. We should hold a yoga session for our conference attendees in the morning of Day 2.”
You: “I am sure they would love it. We have many more creative ideas to make your event truly special. May I just confirm that you intend to use our hotel for your meeting?”
2. Service and Delivery Dates
When a buyer has decided to work with you, they start thinking of detailed logistics and how the process will really work.
Client: “Who in your team would be our meeting planner?”
You: “We would assign a senior conference services manager to your program and I would also stay involved to ensure continuity and that all we have envisioned and discussed will be put into practice. So, do you agree that we would be the right partner to work with for this group?”
Client: “Could you send me the dimensions of the elevators in your loading dock?”
You: “Of course, it would be my pleasure to do that. May I just confirm that you are planning to work with us for this conference?”
3. Next step questions
When the client thinks of what needs to happen next to move along the decision process, he has often made up his mind to work with you.
Client: “This all sounds good, but I would like to see your hotel in person before taking a decision. When could we come in for a site visit?”
You: “How would tomorrow suit you? Should what you will see tomorrow be in line with what we have discussed today, would you be ready to decide for our hotel?”
4. Purchasing and Financing questions
To sign a sales agreement, a buyer needs to understand the terms and conditions in detail. If they move on to these questions, they most likely intend to decide for your property.
Client: “What deposit would you require upon contract signature?” or
Client: “Can you explain your cancellation clause in more detail?” or
Client: “What volume do we have to commit to and what is your attrition clause?”
You: “I am glad you ask this. May I send you a first contract draft to review all contract terms and conditions with you in detail?”
Keep focused on closing the sale and practice asking for it. By addressing the sale openly you will cut the sales cycle short or learn valuable reasons why your client is not yet ready to buy.
"For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough."
-- Zig Ziglar