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Why sales ladies wear black and sales men always say “no problem”
By Bert van Walbeek
She insisted that, in order to be successful in selling hotel services, all you need is “ good looking female persons from well-to-do families, owning a car ……. “
And that is probably why this hotel in Bangkok has an average rate about US $ 20 lower than their competitors ……
While training sales teams in Asia for the last 15 years, I have always noted that being a sales person in a hotel is, for most associates, status driven and, in the meantime, a mainly female domain.
When I stand in front of a sales team I see black and white, ladies in black business suits dominate and the few men holding out, invariably with white shirts, peppering the black scene.
“ Black is easy for make up “ is the explanation I get from the ladies and “ white is neutral “ is what the gentlemen tell me.
What they both forget that if you “brand” yourself like that, your customers will have a challenge recognizing one sales person from the other, as I discovered when I was in the “ buyer -role “ while working for a Destination Management Company in Thailand.
Quite often I did not know which hotel was “on offer “, as most sales people seem to assume that buyers know “ black from black and white from white “ and all talk about the same : beautiful beaches, great locations, high-tech ( meeting ) rooms and the best service ever, not to forget the ever present mini-bar and in-room safe ……
This challenge is then compounded because of the high mobility of hotel sales people :
in January Sales Executive in hotel A,
in July Sales Manager in hotel B
in December Director of Sales in hotel C !
And that is when I started to classify sales persons in 4 types, based on their approach to the execution of their sales function
The “ Freezer “ type
The “ Factory “ type
The “ Friendly Zoo “ type
The “ Sincere “ type
The “ Freezer “ approach
Procedural: Slow, inconsistent, inconvenient
Personal: Insensitive, cold, uninterested
The “ Factory “ approach
Procedural; Prompt, efficient, uniform
Personal: Apathetic, aloof, uninterested
Message to customers : You are a number ...
The “ Friendly Zoo “ approach
Procedural: Slow, inconsistent, chaotic
Personal: Friendly, pleasing, interested
Message to customers : We are trying hard ….
The “ Sincere “ approach
Procedural: Prompt, efficient, uniform
Personal: Friendly, pleasing, interested
Message to customers : We care, and we deliver !
Is there a recipe for sales success ?
Great things are planned and behind every winning sales person is a recipe that has been perfected by true sales professionals, since in order to be successful they developed their own plans, their own recipes for success.
My recipe is made of the following ingredients:
· 3 cups of common sense
· 2 cups of enthusiasm
· 1 cup of perseverance
· A dash of creativity
· A dash of focus
When I meet a sales force for the first time, I do a very simple, but highly un-academic, attitude test in order to establish whether I will train with farmers, technicians, preachers, hunters or demand creators and then discover time and time again that hunters and demand creators are rare species in the sales jungle
And that’s where the “no problem” syndrome comes in !
Farmers are those people that can sell rooms during high demand periods, technicians are those that now where the light-switch is in the meeting room, but can’t sell more than the usual meeting package, while preachers will always say “no problem” as they know “higher powers” will solve the disasters they create.
What hotels need now, more than ever, are those hunters and, even better, demand creators that have a ( positively ) aggressive attitude, have been trained on the right sales skills, and understand that “ talk less and listen more” is the key to success !
Establish your customer’s need(s) before you start selling is my simple message and then brand yourself by being different.
This is why I am wearing bowties since 20 years …….
Last, but not least, always remember the 2 sales persons that went to Africa to sell shoes !
After 2 days the one person sends a fax : “ problem, nobody wearing shoes, am coming back “
The other person send a fax too : “opportunity, nobody wearing shoes, send 20,000 pairs ! “
Now please look in the mirror and bravely ask yourself two questions :
Do I look like all the other sales persons ?
What fax I would have sent ?
So, ladies and gentlemen in sales, please brand yourself, stop hiding in black and white and, most importantly, discontinue saying “no problem”.
About the Author
Bert “Bow-Thai” van Walbeek has been an Hotelier for 40 years and Marketer of Tourism for 30 years, a Motivator for 20 years and a lecturer for 15 years.
In 1993 he became the Founder and still is Managing Director of The Winning Edge, ( www.twe-winningedge.com ) a boutique consulting company, offering marketing audit, sales and service training and consultancy services mainly to the Hospitality & Tourism industries
He is also lecturing the “next generation” at Universities in Asia and Europe and speaks on leadership, crisis management and marketing subjects during industrial and academic conferences.
The company is presently handling projects in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.
He can be reached at email@example.com
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