How many of these phrases have you heard from your service team?
- I don't like being pushy, so I don't make suggestions.
- The customer knows that they want anyway. I'll just be bothering them if I make suggestions.
- I always ask if they belong to CAA so that I can give them a discount.
- How am I supposed to know what someone wants?
- If they already have a reservation, then the sale is done.
- I'm not in sales. I'm just a front desk agent (or server).
Those are just some of the phrases I've heard from participants in my "Sales as Service" workshop. In all the sessions I have done, very few people identify the ability to sell as important to their front desk or food and beverage server role. There are a number of reasons for that.
- Many have a negative perception of a salesperson. When asked what words or phrases come to mind when they hear the word "salesperson", by far the majority of words or phrases are negative. Pushy, relentless, annoying, don't know when to stop, etc., etc., etc.
- Many see themselves as being there to take orders and fulfill those orders.
- Many have never been taught how to sell.
Creating a strong internal sales team starts with helping your service professionals realize they are also hospitality sales professionals. Hospitality sales professionals:
- Are always customer focused. A sale is not about pushing a service or product; it's about recognizing that you have a service or product that could potentially enhance the customer experience and providing information on that service or product.
- Know the features and the benefits of the various products or services their company provides.
- Know their customers. They understand that not all customers want, need or expect the same thing. It's about matching suitable products or services to the business person, to the family with children, to the couple getting away for a romantic holiday or to the senior citizen. I'm not a fan of promotions that encourage or reward employees for pushing a particular product, as that puts the sale before the customer.
- Understand they are selling an experience, not just a room or a meal at a certain price. They use words and phrases to create a picture or a feeling. Instead of asking "Would you like dessert?" describe the dessert. "Would you care for a slice of homemade apple pie? The flaky crust and touch of cinnamon tastes even better when warmed up with a scoop of ice cream." It's easy to say no to dessert. It's harder to say no to a warm piece of apple pie with ice cream.
- Look for opportunities to add value. Just because a customer walks in the door with a reservation, doesn't mean they are fully aware of all their options. Saying "Mr. Smith, we you have you confirmed in a business room. I've just had a junior suite become available, which also includes... Would you like me to change you to the junior suite?"
Sales and service go hand in hand. Service professionals who also consider themselves sales professionals are good for business. Help your team become highly skilled sales professionals by making sure they are very familiar with the products and the services. Let them experience what they are selling. Answer any questions they have. Remember, the more they know, the better they can sell. Let them learn by watching you and through role play. As their confidence builds, you will see more closed sales at higher rates or increased customer cheques and higher customer satisfaction scores. It's a win for you, a win for the employee and a win for the customer.
To learn more about the services offered by Servicedge Training and Consulting, or to sign up for a free "Service Strategy" consultation with Laurie, visit www.servicedge.ca/free-consult/.