Monthly Archives: April 2009

Get a Head Start on the Economic Upswing by Art Sobczak

The stock market has been steadily inching up over the past few weeks. Economic indicators are showing signs of improvements. Economists who study such things are even whispering that things are getting better. 

And NOW is a great time to plan for the level of success you want three months, six months, a year from now, and beyond, when this train is really storming down the tracks. Let’s look at some ways to do that.

Protect Your Best Accounts
First, maintain and grow what you have. Your competitors might be reading this and are targeting your best accounts. Don’t assume everything is OK if you don’t hear from them. Be proactive and ask what else you can do for them. 

Call Your Inactive Accounts
They became inactive for a reason. Find out why and fix it if you can. If things were not going well for them and they struggled during a downturn, be there when they ride the wave up.

Exploit Your Strengths
Differentiate yourself and your company. Specialize. Sell into niches. Become an expert in a certain area. 

Ask for More Referrals
When making your regular “Value Added” calls, make it a point to ask who else they know who might also be able to take advantage of the same types of benefits/ results they receive from you. People who run businesses that are thriving now likely know similar people. 

Presell for the Future
Sure, you’ll still hear, “We can’t do anything now.” And when it is legitimate, get as much of a commitment as you can today. Ask them, “When do you anticipate moving forward?” “Can we be the ones you’ll work with?”

Stay in Touch
For the people who aren’t buying today, be sure you’re the one they think of first when they are ready. Email regularly with value-added ideas, tips, and industry information. Send articles. Personal handwritten notes. Get on a regular card-sending program

Smart Prospecting
Get more in your pipeline. But don’t just “smile’n’dial” for the sake of activity. Target wisely. Learn about them before speaking with them. Tailor your opening and questions to their situation. 

Provide Personal Value To Your Buyers
One of the strongest human motivators is survival. And it applies in the work environment. You likely know more than one person who has been downsized. Take interest in your customers personally, and help your buyers on a personal level “How has your job changed in the last six months? Three months?”

“What can we do to help you?”

Follow the Dollars
Some businesses are unaffected by the economy, and others are doing better than ever RIGHT NOW. Where are these opportunities in your world?

Upgrade Yourself
If you were going to run a marathon up a mountain, you’d probably work out get yourself into better shape. Well, if you’re going to thrive in this economy, you need to have your skills and attitude in top shape as well. Are you on a regular “sales skills self-improvement” workout schedule? 

Stretch Your Creativity
Say “Why not?” a lot more. Why couldn’t you go after a bigger sale than you’ve ever made up to this point? What’s the most unusual way you’ve ever found a new customer? Try it again.

Negotiate for the Long Term
Keep in mind that today, it might be worth it to be a bit more flexible in negotiating a first sale with a new customer, IF there is long-term potential.

Work Harder
Sales success isn’t like the get-rich-quick shows on cable, or the “Make Money in Your Sleep” spam emails you get. Show me the sales rep thriving today, and I’m wagering he or she is out-hustling everyone else. Can you kick it up a notch?

Ask More
I don’t believe sales is “just a numbers game,” but I have proved to myself many times over that the more you ask, the more you get. 

Set Goals
If you want to reach a destination, you first need to know what it is, and where it is. Let’s face it, there are no secrets here. The key is in doing something. Now get busy! 

“Dreams are powerful reflections of your actual growth potential.”
Dr. Denis Waitley

About the author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople–both inside and outside–designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his “down-to-earth,”entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing “rejection.” Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren’t quite sure what to do, or aren’t confident in their abilities. Art’s audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.

Incentive Plans to Help Our Industry

Cash incentive/bonus plans are not as effective during recessions. The cash typically gets used to pay down bills or to make a purchase that’s needed. 

If you want to provide an incentive to your employees and help the industry give trips as incentive. The trips can be to another of your hotels or resorts, or work a trade-out with a competitor. Most trips offered as incentives in our industry don’t directly impact rooms revenue, but they do impact F&B revenue and spending on recreational activities.

Most importantly, trips that include loved ones benefit employers both from the recognition of the loved ones, and for the trip itself.

Negotiated properly, trips as incentives can cost a company far less than cash incentives. 

Offer more trips to recognize more employees more often. A weekend get-away is a great incentive. 

Get creative on your incentives. Recognize your employees and expand travel as well. 

What is your company offering as incentives?

Tom’s Take: Increasing Sales—Today

Start a discussion today with your employees. Ask them what your hotel/business can do today to increase sales equal to a $1 per employee.

The goal of course is to get your employees thinking about small ways they can help increase your revenues. Hopefully those ways can become consistent revenue producers.

Very few of us are smart enough to come up with an idea that will increase sales by $10,000 or $50,000. But we each can think of small things that can help revenue…starting today. 

A few ideas:

  • Put a special on some item in the gift shop that has been hard to sell.
  • Put something else on a salad or desert that costs almost nothing and increase the price a buck.
  • Put top selling (or bottom selling) spa items at the Front Desk as a “Close out special” or “Favorite products from our spa.” 
  • Have couples checking in tomorrow? Call and find out if they would like to provide surprise flowers, candy, a bottle of wine, etc.
  • Have singles checking in? Ask if they would like to take a gift home for someone special. A small stuffed animal for a child perhaps?

     As a parent, I always had to take back a small present for our daughter. It was often a pain on a busy business trip to find something I hadn’t already bought in other hotel gift shops. A small stuffed animal with the hotel logo, or hotel name as the name for the animal would have always worked.

  • Housekeeping employees can tell you guests most frequent requests. What could you charge for that would be welcomed by the guest? Have perceived value to the guest?

Guests appreciate suggestions that appear spontaneous and caring. Guests dislike having their arms twisted in an “up-sell.” Guests also dislike having the above delivered by rote, or as an obvious canned sales pitch.

How much would your revenues increase over a year if your hotel averaged an additional $1 per employee per day?  Your profits? A $1 per employee per day is doable. Get creative. Encourage employees with contests, drawings, gift cards to Target, Walmart, or a grocery store.

The path to enhanced success starts with a single step. Let’s jog!

Are you a Talent Attractor?

Even hourly employees need to be highly skilled to enable hotels, clubs, restaurants, and other hospitality companies to succeed. Our industry does hire a lot of people at minimum wage. Those minimum wage employees still need to have the skills and attitude that our guests can identify with and appreciate. Most organizations emphasize skills for their management employees. Service businesses need highly skilled employees in both areas. 
Characteristics of People who are Talent Attractors:

  • Have personalities that people “naturally” are attracted to. Good attitudes, ready smiles, and a true interest in the well being of employees and guests.
  • Daily demonstrate the ability to teach employees core competency skills and attitudes. Talent attractors help people develop their skills fully. It’s not enough to teach/demonstrate the basics. Talent attractors take the extra steps to assure their employees are developing skills to take them to the next step in their career.
  • Talent attractors get people excited about their jobs, even if the job is dishwasher. How? By making sure each employee knows they are important to both the mission, and to the talent attractor. Employees find it easy to get excited about doing their best when they know their boss is excited and truly cares about the employee.
  • Measure the performance of their employees, explain the measurement and why it’s important, and then talent attractors give employees praise and feedback on how they can do better.
Talent attractors run Departments and businesses that “feel good.” The operation appears to run like a well oiled machine. 
Organizations with talent attractors have less turnover and feel the impact of economic downturns less. 
How? Because employees are motivated and excited, service standards are superior to competitors. They have more business to start with, and they lose less of that business in a downturn. Many find that business actually increases. Satisfied customers come back, even if the cost is slightly higher.
How do you become a talent attractor?
  • It starts with a “can-do” attitude.
  • Next develop the strategic direction for your Department or business. Part of that strategic direction is how people develop and gain additional skills.
  • Then be sure you understand the overall goal of your hotel, restaurant, etc.
  • Last, be sure you understand where to recruit to get the skill sets you need in your employees.
Each new employee needs to improve your profits every single week by a minimum of 10% their annual salary.  (Sales people by 20%.)
Different jobs respond to different recruiting techniques. Different generations respond to different information in recruiting ads. If you don’t know which recruiting techniques to use, reach out to organizations, like Securemploy to find out.
Talent attractors are in very high demand as employees. They are always ranked by employers in the Top 20%. Improve your promotional opportunities by improving your skills as a talent attractor

Five Steps to Job Security

Some people always seem to have great jobs. Other people always seem to complain about their job.

You have what it takes to always have a great job. Are you using the tools you have?

1. It starts with your attitude and your belief that you deserve a great job. People who have negative thoughts normally have negative experiences. People who believe in themselves and strive to do their best, get the best. It’s up to you.

2. Stay abreast of your industry. Watch for the trends that are coming. You may have heard the saying, “There is nothing wrong with looking back, just don’t stare.” Look back to identify areas of your career you could have done differently. Use that information to look forward to identify where you think your industry is going, and how you can contribute to that. Read industry trade journals religiously. 

3. One of the first things dynamic people do when they get a new job is update their resume. They understand that they never know where or when their next career opportunity will come. So they are ready at all times. Hospitality Online has a wonderful Career Profile to compile all the accomplishments from each of your jobs. Then you check off the information you want to include and the resume is created for you. The real value is documenting all your accomplishments. As careers progress it becomes difficult to remember significant events that happened years ago.

4. Network, network, network. In real estate they say the three most important factors that sell are location, location, location. The same applies to your career. Your network can always be expanded. Networking is a two way street. The more you help, the more frequently others will think of, and help your career.

5. New opportunities come from many different directions. Watch for them. If you read an interesting article, think how it can apply to your career. How could your accomplishments fit the industry the article is talking about? How can this information leverage your career.

Yes, you do deserve a great career. Go get it!

Will you do what it takes to be the best of the best?

In my book “Can I Have 5 Minutes of Your Time?” I talk about doing what it takes to be the best.

During this brutal economy, it makes sense to talk about it again. Now, more than ever, is the time for every salesperson to be at his or her best.


Whenever we start something new, it’s uncomfortable. What was it like riding a bike the first time? When you first diapered your baby, were you scared? What about your first lesson in learning a foreign language?

The key is practice, and most salespeople don’t practice. To practice is to be in training. I can train people to sell, but there’s just one catch: You have to want to learn, to practice, to excel.

I can’t train desire. And without the desire, there isn’t a ghost of a chance of training anyone.

Attitude is vital. Truth is, if you have a great attitude, it’s so easy to be the best. So often when we go out to buy, to eat, to do whatever, we get bad service.

I’m sure that if you think about what happens day in and day out, you will realize that almost every day you have an experience that’s bad or leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s easy to be the best. All you have to do is have a better attitude and be a little better than everyone else.


If I could ask you right now whether you are in sales, the chances are only 50-50 that you would say yes.

You might say no, tell me that you’re in accounting or technical or maybe you’re the owner. Regardless of your answer, this information can help you.

If you are in sales, we’re discussing the lifeblood of your livelihood and your contribution to your company.

And if you are not in sales, you still will find ideas and tools that will help you do your job or run your business more profitably. And the topics that don’t apply to you directly, such a prospecting, still will be informative and useful. The ideas and tools of sales are useful in accounting, marketing, shipping, anything.

Whatever your job or business, if you deal with a customer or client in any way, you are selling.

That’s why some business owners and managers have their entire company or division attend sales seminars.

All of us are selling every day: We’re selling a product or service. We’re selling our company. We’re selling our ideas. We’re selling ourselves.


Let’s talk for a moment about art forms. Cleveland, my hometown, has one of the most magnificent art museums anywhere. You can see some of the greatest – and most beautiful – artwork at the Cleveland Museum of Art: masterpieces by Renoir, Monet, Picasso.

These three of the world’s greatest artists all share three things in common: paint, brushes and canvas.

But yet their works are completely different. Why? Because of the creativity and uniqueness of the artist. The same thing is true of all of us.

You can’t expect to be like me or the next person.

You have to use your creativity, what’s inside you, along with the basic tools – the paint, brushes and canvas of the art of selling.

You have your good points. I don’t care what your situation is – how much experience you have, what you’re selling or what your personality is.

You have good points, and they work well for you. Build on those good points, and then develop your distinct style.


Three things make the top salesperson. This applies to you whether you are 100 percent in sales or not, whatever your title or position.

1. Top salespeople are organized.

2. Top salespeople are persistent.

3. Top salespeople are incredibly honest – this is most important.

What exactly is selling?

I’m going to give you a definition of selling. Before you look it up in a dictionary, let me save you the trouble. You’ll find at least a dozen definitions, but I guarantee you won’t find the real one: Selling is asking, not telling. Selling is listening, not talking.

The true pros who are in sales know those words and, in fact, become those words. They know that their job is not to sell but to listen and find out what the customer wants, and not just what they want to sell them.

The truth is – and it’s a shame – that most salespeople do a terrible job. They are not organized. They are not persistent. They are not incredibly honest. Worst of all, they do not ask. And they certainly do not listen.



Social Networking-the Lighter Side

According to Facebook, the average number of “friends” on their network is 120.

                                                                                MEN                                       WOMEN

“Friends” frequently in contact with:                   7                                                   10

2-Way communication emails or “chats”           4                                                     6


Does this confirm that women spend more time talking?  


Does it mean women are more interested in, and spend more time understanding people?

What do you think?

Leave it to professionals to give sales force superior training

Now, before we get into why (and what she thought of me when I said no), I told her that I had no problem teaching her the rules of the game or even proper etiquette on the golf course.

But to teach her the game – I just could not.

I declined for a very simple reason, and I will apply the same rationale to any company that has salespeople working for it. I have seen this again and again.

In fact, I see this so much it is quite upsetting, not just to me but to any sales trainer who really knows the science of selling.

This example I will provide is not the exception but the norm, and this happens as routinely in small companies as it does in big businesses.

This type of problem with respect to sales training has been going on as long as there has been salespeople selling products or services.

Time after time, we see so-called experienced salespeople going out in the field (making calls on individual people or companies) with the newer salespeople to “show them the ropes.”

They go on a sales call with the inexperienced salesperson and decide to show him or her how they used to do it, when they were new in the sales game.

Regardless of the industry, there are only a couple of top salespeople at each business who are a company’s best producers.

The typical scenario: A salesperson who has been around for a while or is just above average is designated to go on a sales call with the newer salesperson.

Now what is going to happen here? Easy! The salesperson is going to learn how to sell average – not great, but just average.

Look at who the instructor is: an average salesperson giving the lessons here on how to sell properly!

To me, that is like a blind person teaching another blind person how to ride a motorcycle. There is definitely going to be a crash!

Why would we let someone learn how to sell from someone who is not qualified to teach?

The answer is pretty basic. That is how the company is set up, or it is easy to say to someone, “Hey, go out, and teach Skippy how to sell.”

So, why would I want my wife to become an average golfer?

If I teach her how to play like I do, she will learn to play the game like me, somewhat average, and will not really have the direction to learn the game properly from a professional golfer.

That person would be the qualified individual to teach her, not me.

She probably will make some mistakes based on the way I taught her to swing the club, and then she hopefully will practice that method, and now she will perfect an average swing!

That’s not the smartest way to teach someone.

Unfortunately, that is how we teach salespeople in many, many companies. Trust me, let a professional teach your salespeople how to sell.

Do not use an average salesperson, or sometimes even worse, an average salesperson who has been promoted to sales management.

Now, he or she is in charge of teaching the whole sales team how to sell average.

It can be a dilemma, but that is why there are a ton of people or companies out there like mine who can put you in the right direction when it comes to proper professional selling techniques.

This is not a sales pitch to use me. Rather, seek out someone who teaches sales training close to where your business is located.

Whether it is golf, medicine, law or even flying an airplane, why learn from someone who is mediocre when you can learn from a professional if one is available?

Take advantage of resources in your community to take your sales force to another level. It is simple, and in the long run, it will be a wise choice.

Well, I have to go sign my wife up for a lesson with the local professional golfer at the nearby course.