Last year a study was released that claimed that only 47% of sales reps (in all industries) replied to inbound inquiries from customers. Less that half of customers who requested more information from companies got a response (and the average response time was 2 days!). I found this hard to believe – particularly for hotels, I mean, hotels are in the hospitality business, of course we will be more responsive, right? Nope. I sent an email inquiry to 12 hotels. And the education I received was not a pleasant one.
Of the 12, five hotels never responded at all. In fairness, one of the five had a faulty website – as I was trying to send an inquiry in it kept giving me an error saying my first name was incorrect! So, out of 12, I only received seven responses. However, four of those were automated responses and this is how “hospitable” they were:
“Thank you for using SpeedRFP. The request for proposal for X family reunion has been successfully sent to the following hotels:
You will receive an e-mail notification when a hotel responds and a link that will take you to your RFP Manager.
To manage your RFP visit SpeedRFP.com and use [my email address] plus the temporary password qy3P$N to sign in.
Please let us know if we may be of assistance. ”
I have a few concerns with this. First, I want to give your hotel money. Why do I need to remember a password to do that? Second, why can’t someone just email me back or even give me a call?
However, at least I got a response. However, of those four automated responses, I only received one actual follow up. And it was a standard RFP response with zero warmth or hospitality. But at least they responded.
Two hotels responded the next day with an email saying they had the dates and gave me their rates and attached banquet menus.
One hotel, only one, sent me a nice email with an actual proposal attached to it that had about nine beautiful pictures of the hotel, some lovely paragraphs about how much the hotel wanted my group and the reasons why they would be perfect. And they sent it about an hour after my initial inquiry.
Which one would likely get my business?
Total stats – 12 inquiries attempted. 5 hotels with zero response. 4 hotels with an automated response with 1 actual follow up. 3 hotels responded but only 1 the same day. Not great.
I researched the one hotel who responded beautifully and quickly and not a big surprise, they had a sales proposal software solution.
Upon further research I discovered that hotels who invest in sales software proposal are usually (not always, but usually) better about responding to inquiries and the info they send out is much more hospitable. And I think there are probably a couple of reasons for that.
Hassle-free – the sales office today is full of administrative tasks. Responding to RFPs, filling out reports, trying to keep up with social media, LinkedIn, etc. The easier you can make it for a sales manager to respond to customers, the more likely they are to do it. It sounds a little weird I know, I mean, shouldn’t sales people be over the moon excited about getting an inquiry? Yes and no – they get a lot of pointless inquiries – duplicate requests, contacts who have no intention of booking but need to collect 3 quotes, etc. It is just how it is today. So while they might INTENT to respond to every one, it just doesn’t happen. But by making a response as easy as clicking a few buttons, you increase the likelihood.
More compelling – photos and videos sell today. Everyone knows that but few hotel sales people are sending out photos and videos because once again, it is a hassle to do so. A sales proposal software makes it easy. Most have photos already inserted and can be changed out with a few clicks. The nice sales language is always written so you are being persuasive as opposed to just listing out a bullet list of features. The proposal that gets into the hands of the potential customer is one that sells (assuming you have set it up correctly the first time!).
More satisfying – any sales proposal software comes along with a tracking code today so you can actually find out when a prospect has received and opened your proposal! Seeing that notification is simply rewarding. As a seller, you went to the trouble to respond, it is just really nice to see someone open your email and read it!
More accountable – sales proposal software allows the manager to monitor their salespeople. There is some form of reporting that tells a manager when the inquiry was received, when the proposal was sent out, and what the current state it – along with any follow up correspondence sent. As a salesperson, I am a little bit more inclined to stay on top of things if I know someone is watching. Just human nature.
When we put together our Influencer Sales class, I knew we had to include something about sales proposals so I researched about 10 companies that provide this service. I personally began using one myself – Proposify.biz because it sends me a text whenever a prospect opens my proposal! However, what I discovered is that there are really only two companies who produce proposals specifically for hoteliers – eProposal through Cendyn and Proposal Path through Blue Buzzard. Each have their pros and cons but bottom line, you will increase your sales if you automate your sales proposal in the right way so my recommendation would be to run, don’t walk to their websites to investigate which one is the better fit for your hotel.