How to profile and cold call hospitality prospects

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Whether you are new to a hospitality job, or a longstanding member of a well-oiled team, new business (and particularly cold calling) has always had a negative stigma attached to it. Adam Geering, Client Manager at Journey, gives some personal advice on how to become a successful new business caller in your hotel or hospitality business.

 

Similar to courting, people are petrified of rejection when it comes to cold calling. The truth is, it usually suits specific personality types – those with resilience and tenacity. However, there’s some good news for people who are anxious about jumping on the phone. It has never been easier to learn about a company or a specific person you are trying to target, especially with social networking. Whether you are looking to grow your corporate events, weddings, conferences or exclusive hire revenue streams, here are my top 5 tips to becoming a successful new business caller:

1. Knowledge is power

If I asked you for your opinion on the current political affairs in the Ukraine and the diplomatic unrest leading to a country on the brink of a civil war, you might have seen the ten o’clock news on the BBC and be able to muster a reply. However, if I asked you about a hobby that you’ve been doing since the age of six, or your 50th pair of heels purchased last week, your deep knowledge of that subject makes you feel comfortable. So whether you know it or not, this makes your conversational skills infinitely better.Unfortunately for the cold caller, only a small percentage of communication involves actual words: 7%, to be exact.In fact, 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice). This means that on the phone, to keep attention over a small period of time, you need to be clear, concise and worth talking to. Know what you want to talk about before you pick up the phone and do your homework on the person you’re calling.

2. Smile

I know, right? The first time I was told this… I smiled too. I said something along the lines of “Why? They can’t see me!”But smiling *is* infectious, be it on the phone or face to face. I’m not suggesting sitting opposite your colleague or facing a client with a false grin, but just enough warmth to let that charm and charisma come out.

3. Don’t script

Too many people (admittedly myself included) have come unstuck by trying to stick to a script. Try noting touch points on a post-it instead. Then talk over around them, listen to the response and react accordingly. Having an agenda to the call need not make you come across wooden. Personality is key.

Don’t make a cold call. Follow up after you’ve sent a great marketing campaign so you make the call warm before you start.

Adam Geering, Client Manager, Journey

4. Have a goal to the call…3 in fact

  1. Visualise that utopia. If everything went right, what would be the outcome?
  2. Then, have a mid range goal. Whatever that may be – what’s the real purpose for the call?
  3. Finally, have an ‘at very least’ goal. For me, it’s to maintain a good brand experience – if you do everything right on the call, they’ve just had their first taste of communication with you.

If this is a prospect you really want, it won’t be the last. Always end on a call to action, even if it’s “touch base again in 6 months, at this moment in time I’m not interested”.

5. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity

It sounds like a no brainer, but there are companies out there that want you to make 300 calls a day and generate 2 leads/bookings. Smashing the phone does get results but doesn’t always spell out the best customer service or experience. If you make 20 or 30 calls a day and have 10 good conversations, then:

  • You have focussed your attention to highlight quality prospects worth contacting.
  • You have taken the time to gain some knowledge and insight.

Speaking from experience though, try not to be too clever. Don’t over think the situation, and remember; if you don’t ask the question, the answer will always be no.

On a final note, cold calling is not the be all and end all; some prospects may not be comfortable speaking to someone as a first point of call. A well-worded email may work just as well as a timely phone call. Just make sure that it is personal and not part of a generic email campaign.

To throw another alternative into the mix, direct marketing is another great way of opening communication with hospitality prospects. Something that is tangible could be a better way to gain attention.

There is no perfect formula, if there was then there wouldn’t be so many hospitality businesses out there vying for business. You need to be intelligent and tenacious enough to gauge the best method of contact with each prospect.

Phone will always be the best form of initial communication. It’s instant and requires immediate response. My comfort zone is meeting people face to face, failing that it’s email. Leave your comfort zone… get on the phone.