I was reading today’s hospitality news and discovered an article describing how hotel designers are looking to integrate the human touch in hotels of the future. It appears that some designers are rethinking their approaches and designing hotels with imaginative solutions that are clever, not clinical, with spatial layouts that help physical distancing while avoiding feeling anti-social. Their challenge: Deliver the human touch – without humans touching.
If designers are trying to morph our spaces into no touch zones,
should sales people be morphing their sales approaches
to reflect our new hotel environments?
As hotels learn to co-exist with the coronavirus, every aspect of operations is being deconstructed and reconsidered as conventional procedures are created to not only welcome guests and promote their well being, but keep them safe and healthy. Creating the physical environment is the easy part; creating the non-contact, contact part is the challenge.
My personal thoughts on sales and creating the human touch goes back to our ultimate culture statement:
People do business with those they know, like and trust.
Everyone seems to be offering advice and direction on what to do about sales and when/how to proceed. With all the pandemic noise bombarding us with all the reasons why “we can’t sell,” it’s difficult to find reasons why “we should be selling”. An effective sales plan will require that we resume sales prospecting and sales calls, but the key ingredient is “how do we do that without face-to-face meetings, tours, and cold calls!”
Sales, no matter whether it is in normal time or now, requires that we have a human touch. Human touch can be anything from a handshake to a fist bump, to a foot bump, to a bow. It can be a nod, it can be a phone call, it can be a video call, or it can be a handwritten note. Have you prepared your “human touch” tools? Do you have updated collateral? Are you reaching out to customers new and old, and being kind, compassionate? And yes, are you prospecting and selling? Are you being human?
Human Touch Step 1: Get to know your customers by developing and nurturing relationships.
By now, I hope you have taken a page or two from my sales playbook and have developed a relationship with your customers. You know what they want, you know what they don’t want, you have some idea about their life and what is going on (think back about Labrador Retrievers), and you represent yourself and your hotel as compassionate and caring. Integrating the human touch means that you must have some sort of human interaction (face-to-face, voice-to-voice, or video-to-video). You can not get to know your customers by email alone.
Human Touch Step 2: Be likable.
Likable people are not a nuisance. Likable people are truly empathetic and know how to phrase compassionate prospecting without overwhelming the customer. You must develop a systematic approach to the way you reach out and contact customers. If you are calling every day and just leaving messages, or if you are emailing over-and-over again with an accusational tone (“I am reaching out again”….. “You must be busy because I haven’t heard from you”….. “I’ll give you another opportunity to”….) – then you are a nuisance. When you reach out using a variety of contact mediums (a combination of phone, email, video chats, direct mail, gift drops, and visits) and you communicate that you are truly concerned for their health, the health of their loved ones, and the condition of their company and employment (and you are not bombarding them) – then you are not a nuisance. People will like you because they know you respect them and their time.
Human Touch Step 3: Be their go-to person – someone they trust.
Make yourself indispensable and trust worthy. If you make booking a group, making a reservation, or securing a meeting room easy for your customers and prospective customers, then they will trust you. When you sign a contract or negotiate a deal – you are putting you and your hotel’s reputation on the line. Sell what you can deliver and then deliver what you promise.
Selling can either be easy, or it can be torturous. Authentic and honest sales people are hard to find. Educate yourself, find a mentor to emulate, and learn something every day. Evaluate yourself. Would you buy something from you?
Even in a pandemic, creating moments of humanity is paramount to the process. You can’t take the “person” out of the sales person. If you do, it’s just sales.
Happy being human,