The competition of the customers has increased dramatically since the pandemic and the number of incoming inquiries will probably not be as high as before. This means you need to be extra careful of the inquiries your hotel actually receive and do your best to increase the hit-rate. Your hotel can’t afford to lose another deal to the worst competitor.
The reason why you close a deal can of course be many and even though location, product and price matters when customers search for their next event, one of the most vital parts of the sales process is the sales qualification. It’s a part of the process you can influence and should focus on to increase your hit-rate and generate more revenue for the hotel.
Sales qualification is when you ask a lot of questions, preferably open-ended questions, to understand the needs of the customer in order to give them an offer they can’t refuse. This process will also show the potential customer that you really care to make the best possible event.
What is an open-ended question?
The main rule for open-ended questions is that the customer can’t answer with yes or no. The customer need to answer with more than one sentence word which means you will get much more useful information. These questions usually begin with why, how or what but of course there's always exceptions. When you get more information from the customer it’s easier for you to create the deal and pinpoint how you will be the best possible alternative for their event.
What to think about when creating a good line of questions?
Some questions will be better to ask in the beginning of the conversation and some of them in the end when you have built trust. Here are some tips in which order your questions can be asked.
- What's important for the customer - Most part of the conversation should be focused on this part.
- Budget - If it’s a bigger event, always ask about their budget.
- Competition - You should know what competitors they are considering.
- Summarize - Make a summary of what’s important for the customer and check if you have missed anything.
- Follow up - Always schedule a follow up/next step.
10 open-ended questions for B2B sales in hotels
1. What is important for you with this event?
This is a great question to get a lot of information. Make sure to never forget this question.
2. How would you rank these important criteria?
From your first question to the customer you will receive several important criteria for them in order to create a successful event. It would be good to know what criteria that are most important.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with this event?
Get a better understanding of what is the purpose of the event.
4. What was good/bad with previous events?
If they have arranged similar events in previous years it’s important to know if there was something special that worked well or if there was some bad experience.
5. What budget do you have for the event?
At least for bigger events they usually have a budget. If you know their budget you can create a better offer for them.
6. Are you flexible with dates?
If they for instance have a low budget, alternative dates could be a better option for you to offer. Or maybe 2 alternatives.
7. What other venues do you consider for this event?
You should know what competitors you are up against.
8. Who makes the decision?
For bigger events there is often more than one decision maker. What can you do to influence all of them?
9. When is a good date to follow up?
You should always schedule a follow up call/meeting when you talk to the customer, send the calendar invite during your talk and make sure they receive it. It’s important so the potential customer doesn't book another hotel and you miss out on following up and, if necessary, adjust your offer to win the deal. You can always rephrase, “Can I follow up with you on date?
10. What else have I missed to ask that’s important for you?
Summarize what’s important for the customer and don’t be afraid to ask the customer if you have missed something
If you are not used to asking open-ended questions in your sales process, a great tip is to keep a number of questions somewhere visible at your workspace. In the start this will be very helpful as a reminder to ask these types of questions. After a short time this process will be all natural.
When you have made a qualified sales qualification you are ready to present an offer the customer can’t refuse.