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2 Prospecting and preapproach.

This chapter discusses the prospecting and preapproach stages of the sales process. The chapter begins by examining the various meetings market segments that frequently play a crucial role in the livelihood of hospitality firms. Next, the importance of prospecting and present popular methods of identifying prospective customers are discussing the chapter ends by investigating the preapproach stage and providing suggestions for collecting precall data.

Meetings Market Segments

There are a number of market segments that are related to the hospitality industry. Each of these segments, and the groups contained within, are different and it is incorrect to stereotype specific types of groups. However, some broad generalizations about each group market segment can be made. According to Successful Meetings, the meetings market is estimated at $141.3 billion in total expenditures for 2003. (1) Table 2-1 provides a breakdown of the meetings market by the three main categories: meetings, association conventions, and corporate meetings. It is interesting to note that corporations account for the largest number of meetings while attendees of associations and conventions account for more in total expenditures. The reason for this will become clear after reading the following sections.

* Association Market Segment. The association market is very broad, ranging from large national and international conventions attended by thousands of individuals to very small, but expensive, board of directors' meetings. The association market tends to be thought of as large conventions, but this is only a small segment of the total associations meeting market. Associations hold several different types of meetings each year, including the following:

* Annual convention for the entire membership. This is usually the largest meeting that the association will hold. It will often include exhibits, especially within the trade association market.

* Board of directors' meetings. These are typically held three or four times a year and are often quite elaborate. The expenditures per attendee are higher than for other association meetings.

* Seminars and workshops. Associations provide continuing education for the members at meetings held throughout the year.

* Committee meetings. Associations operate by means of the volunteer committee approach and each of the committees may need to meet several times a year.

The decision-making process and long lead time for the association market can be frustrating for the hospitality sales manager. This market segment is often assigned to the most experienced sales manager or the director of sales because that individual's additional experience will prove beneficial in working with the association market segment. The meeting planners working with the larger associations are normally quite experienced and professional, so the property's representative must be equally knowledgeable and experienced. The decision-making is scattered among several people within the association. For example, the meeting planner may make the decision concerning where to hold small meetings and workshops, but decisions about larger meetings, such as annual conventions, normally involve the executive committee and/or the board of directors. For this reason, the sales manager must be prepared for a lengthy decision-making process. The initial contact may be with the association meeting planner, but it may take several weeks or months before the board of directors makes a final decision concerning the location for a large meeting.

The lead time for planning meetings can also be quite long. For the largest of the national associations, it is common for the site of the annual convention to be selected five to ten years in advance. Even smaller associations typically plan their annual conventions one to three years in advance. This lead time creates some real challenges for the sales and marketing staff. Even if a large annual meeting is booked now, the revenue will not be realized for quite some time in the future.

Associations often use the annual convention as a revenue-producing event, where the revenue is then used to fund some of the association's annual operating expenses. For this reason, associations will be sensitive about such negotiable items as meeting room rental, complimentary room policies, food and beverage prices, and, in some cases, room rates. Keep in mind that association attendees will be paying their own expenses to attend meetings and may be very sensitive about prices for guest rooms, suites, food, and beverages.

Another popular member of the association market is the SMERF group. SMERF is an acronym that stands for a combination of several market segments-social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal. SMERF meetings are frequently held in conjunction with nonprofit groups that are often working with a very limited budget. They usually do not have a professional meeting planner. While some of the SMERF meetings are small, the number of meetings that the SMERF market segment generates makes the overall contribution significant.

Corporate Market Segment. This market segment is very broad and is widely solicited by hotels. The corporate market is quite different from the association market segment. The differences include needs and objectives, the type and number of individuals in attendance, and the lead time required. Corporations hold many more meetings than associations. The meetings tend to be smaller, have a much shorter lead time, are less price sensitive, are subject to quicker site decisions, and involve fewer individuals in the decision-making process.

Corporate meetings are attractive to hospitality organizations for several reasons. They are held throughout the year rather than being concentrated in certain periods or months, and they do not require as extensive a use of meeting rooms as the association market segment. The typical corporation meeting involves fewer than 50 attendees. The types of corporate meetings vary widely, including the following:

* Training meetings. With the advent of new technology, corporations are always holding meetings to train new staff and provide update training for current staff. This type of meeting is perhaps the most common. Many hospitality firms located near the offices of major corporations will solicit this type of meeting on a continual basis.

* Sales meetings. Most corporations maintain a sales staff that meets on a frequent basis. These meetings serve both to provide information to the sales staff and to motivate them. The sales meeting is an excellent type of meeting to solicit because the group is normally less concerned about price than are other types of meetings groups. The organization is concerned about providing attendees with convenience and comfort.

* New product introduction meetings. When a corporation introduces a new product, it is often done with great fanfare. The meeting is likely to be attended by dealers, corporate sales staff, and the media. This type of meeting can be very extensive and very price insensitive.

* Management meetings. Management staff members often need to "get away" from the place of business to meet and discuss issues in a quiet environment, where they will not be interrupted by telephones and other office distractions.

* Technical meetings. Technical specialists need to meet to discuss items of mutual concern. This type of meeting is less elaborate than the other types of corporate meetings.

* Annual stockholders' meeting. All publicly held corporations are required to have annual stockholders' meetings that may be attended by a large number of individuals. Some food and beverage events associated with stockholders' meetings can be very extensive.

* Board of directors' meetings. These are perhaps the most elaborate and expensive, and often feature extensive food and beverage presentations. They also require more expensive and specialized meeting rooms.

Meeting planning within corporations is typically spread among several departments. The larger corporations that tend to have many meetings have established meeting planning departments. However, in most corporations, meetings are planned by people with other areas of responsibility, such as marketing or human resources, or independent planners are used. The decision-making is usually rapid and does not involve as many individuals as does the association market. If the meeting planner is not the final decision-maker, the planner is usually highly influential in the decision-making process.

In addition to business meetings, corporations also plan incentive meetings or trips for their employees as a reward for outstanding performance. Incentive meetings tend to be held at resort properties in exotic locations and aboard cruise lines. In many ways, incentive meetings are similar to association meetings in that location and climate are very important, and there is an emphasis on recreation and relaxation. Also, attendance is voluntary, spouses often attend, and the trips must be heavily promoted to encourage employees to perform well in hopes of "winning" a place on the trip. The lead time for planning incentive trips is a year or more, they last four to five days on average, and they can be attended by anywhere from 10 to 1,000 people (the average is approximately 100). Business meetings are normally scheduled for tax purposes (so participants do not have to report trips as taxable income), but they are often canceled or ignored by the meeting attendees. However, incentive trips do resemble corporate meetings in that the decision-making is centralized, a master account is used for billing, service is important, planners are not price sensitive, and there are established guarantees for rooms and meals.

Decision Factors. The association and corporate markets are natural segments for the group business market because of their clear distinctions in meeting characteristics. In addition, sales managers need to understand the factors that are important to each buyer in selecting a facility. Table 2-2 contains a comparison of the rankings of the factors considered important to buyers for the types of meetings. While it is important to deal with each buyer on an individual basis, the responses in the table from the average meeting planner will provide a place to start.

As the table shows, there are some differences in the factors that are most important for the various types of meetings. Corporate planners are most concerned about the quality of food, followed by the ability to negotiate rates and the number, size and quality of meeting rooms. Convention planners are most concerned about the number, size, and both quality of meeting rooms and sleeping rooms, and the ability to negotiate rates. Finally, association planners tend to be less in agreement as to the most important factors, but the ability to negotiate rates received the most 'very important' responses. These planners are also worried about the meeting rooms, quality of food, and the cost of the facilities. The top four in rank are the same for the three types of meetings, but the factors differ somewhat in importance. It should also be noted that convention planners placed importance on exhibit space, but it was not included due to the lack of importance among association and corporate planners.

The preceding discussion should assist in defining the broad market. However, within that market it is necessary to identify those individuals or organizations that have a need for a product or service. The following section focuses on finding prospects for a hospitality product.

Prospecting

The importance of prospecting and its contribution to the salesperson's success cannot be overstated. The salesperson must become--and stay--prospect minded. Prospecting, simply stated, is finding potential customers who have a need for a product or service, and who possess the ability and authority to purchase from the salesperson. Another term used for describing these customers is qualified sales leads. Regardless of how much business the salesperson has, he or she should devote some time each week--one-half to a full day--to prospecting. (2) Doing so will prevent the month-to-month income variation--the roller-coaster effect--often experienced by salespeople.

Prospects come from many sources. Utilize as many means of prospecting as possible, and build an extensive base of qualified sales leads. Only a small percentage of prospects will ever become actual customers. In general, overall business figures indicate that a salesperson has to make three to five sales calls to obtain one sale. In some industries, however, this ratio may be much higher. For example, in the insurance industry 10 to 25 sales calls are common to obtain one completed sale. For this reason, sales are often considered a "numbers game." The more prospects one has, the better the chances are to turn a portion of them into clients.

Methods of Prospecting

Many methods of prospecting exist. Indeed, you are likely using a variety of these methods with varying effectiveness in your present sales position. The following paragraphs will discuss a partial list of some of the more popular means of prospecting, which include the natural market, cold calling, referred leads, centers of influence, nests, repeat business, local organizations and companies, personal observation, conversing, and situation prospecting.

Natural Market

The natural market is made up of family, friends, and acquaintances. This market is created by anyone in a normal, natural, routine way. A salesperson should not hesitate to let members of his or her natural market know about the business. Also, they can be asked for any potential prospects they may hear of in their various work and social situations.

Cold Calls

Cold calls refer to contacting prospective customers without a prior appointment or announcement. Cold calling potential customers by telephone is usually conducted with the goal of securing a facetoface appointment with the prospect. Face-to-face sales presentations are much more effective and this form of sales approach should be used whenever possible.

Cold calling also includes physically stopping by the business or home locations of prospects without a pre-arranged appointment. Although such face-to-face interaction is most effective, some prospects may have very strict guidelines regarding the times that salespeople are allowed to visit their business locations. Salespeople should adhere to these specified days and times.

Sales blitzes are cold calls designed to turn the sales force out en masse to telephone or visit as many potential customers as possible. Frequently, the goal of a sales blitz is to make prospects aware of a particular property or promotional offer, and to gather potential sales leads. This task may be accomplished by dropping off sales collateral and/or inexpensive gifts and conversing long enough to identify key decision makers and possible needs.

Cold calls typically make salespeople uncomfortable, but nearly all salespeople must make some cold calls at some point in their careers. To maximize cold calls, Robert Garvey of Entrepreneur offers this sales tip: "Set a goal to make 100 cold calls in 30 days without worrying about the results. By the end of 100 calls, you know your business intimately because you have fielded so many questions and objections to buying from so many people. This process also lifts your self-confidence quickly and without emotional stress because you haven't worried about selling. At the end of the 100 calls, you are ready to sell. You will make better calls on better people. You will know what to say when you go in. (3)

Referred Leads

Referred leads are predicated upon the theory that from each interview or each client a salesperson should be able to secure names of other prospects. Satisfied clients are excellent sources for leads, as are company employees who may come into contact with potential customers through church, sports leagues, or other associations. Casual contacts, such as real estate agents, bankers, and moving companies, are also good sources for referrals.

For example, one enterprising sales manager developed a contest in which all employees (front desk, bellmen, accountants, housekeeping, etc.) were asked to provide the names of business contacts to the sales department. Cash prizes were given to the employee who generated the most revenueproducing sales leads, the employee who submitted leads with the greatest future potential, the employee who identified the greatest number of new leads, and the employee who utilized the most creative method for generating leads. At the conclusion of the two-month-long contest, the sales department reaped more than $10,000 in incremental income from 162 leads generated by 38 employees.

The term endless chain describes the most effective use of referred leads. To employ this strategy, attempt to get from each person interviewed, information about and/or introductions to three of his or her acquaintances who may possess the need for the product and services.

Unfortunately, salespeople are often uncomfortable asking for referrals, although referrals are the best means of identifying sales leads. The most successful salespeople build their sales practices largely through referrals, and referrals are the most efficient means of producing new sales. Indeed, the data in financial services indicates that one sale is gained for every 3.3 referrals compared to every 10 seminar attendees, every 50 cold calls, or every 60 letters. (4)

Prior to asking for referrals, the salesperson should ensure that the customer is satisfied, even if a sale has not been completed. If the customer is pleased with the process, the salesperson should not hesitate to ask for a referral. Referred leads have many benefits, including shorter sales cycles, faster closings, and larger initial transactions, so asking for referrals should be a standard part of the salesperson's sales presentation. Few salespeople, however, ask for referred leads, so they miss the best opportunity to develop a strong network of clients. If you are reluctant to ask for referrals, note that more than 80 percent of customers report they would gladly provide referrals if asked. (5)

Practice asking for referrals with friends. (See Figure 2-1, How to Ask for Referrals.) Referred leads are an important source of leads and the worst that can happen is that the customer will say no. (See Figure 2-2, Handling Objections When Prospecting for Referrals.) Also, think of other creative ways to gain referred leads. For example, one salesperson asks customers to provide a few names of prospects when they have time. He then leaves a brightly colored, stamped, self-addressed envelope and paper with customers. The bright colors serve as a reminder to customers and are not easily lost in a shuffle of papers on a desk. This salesperson estimates that he receives about a 30 percent response rate. Although he is not nearly attaining the proportion of 80 percent of customers that might respond to a more direct request, at least this salesperson is obtaining some useful referred leads. Remember, it is a volume game.

Centers of Influence

A center of influence is a person who can, and will, influence other people to give a salesperson an appointment to discuss their needs. Centers of influence have an unusual amount of prestige and influence with others, and they are persons to whom one can return for referred leads over a long period of time. For example, ministers, florists, and photographers serve as centers of influence for couples planning their weddings.
Figure 2-1 How to Ask for Referrals

1. Get the nominator to express an affirmative feeling.

This means getting the nominator--the person you want to help you
identify possible prospects--to verbalize positive feelings about you or
your service (e.g., "How do you feel about the process that we have
been through? Has this been helpful?"). Ensure that your nominator is
in a receptive, positive mood. Your ability to obtain referred leads
depends on it.

2. Suggest a name or give a category.

The objective is to help the nominator think of names (e.g., "I'd like
to meet some other people like yourself, John/Mary; someone who helps
plan special events for his or her organization. Can you think of any
of your acquaintances in the area that might be involved in such
planning?"). Names and categories come from what you've learned about
the nominator in preparation and during the interview. This step is
inseparable from Step 1 and Step 3.

3. Qualify the prospect in depth.

Qualifying means evaluating the prospects. Know which questions are
important in your process. Ask the qualifying questions in the same
order each time (e.g., "Tell me about Joe. For whom does he work? What
exactly does he do there?"). Gain knowledge about the prospect's
business, markets, and personality.

4. Ask who else came to mind while describing the prospect.

Continue obtaining names by assuming there are other people (e.g.,
"Chances are, John/Mary, while you were thinking of Joe, some other
names flashed through your mind. Tell me, who else came to mind?").
Always qualify people after asking "who else."

5. Ask the nominator to identify the one person he or she knows well
who has the best opportunity to rise to the top.

Pinpointing helps you focus on the best leads. Pinpointing helps you
find out what makes that person special. Pinpointing helps build
networks of guests.


Nests

A nest is a group of people that is closely knit by reason of one or more relationships. The people making up a potential nest have one or more things in common. The relationship may be business, occupational, family, social, religious, or community.
Figure 2-2 Handling Objections When Prospecting for Referrals

1. If your client can't think of anyone ...
   X Suggest a name or a category

2. If your client says, "I can't think of anyone who is in the market
for hotel services ..."

   X "I am not concerned with whether people are in the market for
   hotel services, I am concerned about having the ability to meet
   people just like you."

3. If your client says, "I'd like to talk to them first."

   X "I think that is a great idea!"

      Describe your approach ... "whether they want to meet with me is
      entirely up to them."

4. If you encounter strong negativism,

   X "Sounds like you've had a bad experience."

      Listen empathetically. Obtain a positive response to your
      approach (professional, helpful, and beneficial) and describe how
      you plan to contact the referral.


For example, if the property is dealing with one department within a large corporation, there may be additional departments that could also use services. Thus, if the salesperson is working with the human resources department to provide meeting space for training employees, the salesperson might also find that the information technology group can use hotel services if it is involved in longterm installations that require bringing in specialists.

Repeat Business among Your Clientele

The majority of the sales made by highly successful salespeople come from repeat business, those guests with whom they have previously worked. It is advantageous for a salesperson to do everything possible to develop a strong and lasting relationship with those customers that were sold to earlier.

Local Organizations and Companies

Local organizations and companies may be large sources of business, especially for out-of-town visitors and home office personnel. Make a point to visit each identified business and introduce yourself for future reference. To encourage patronage, consider inviting key personnel from each of these businesses and organizations to a reception. Also, participate in local organizations like the Rotary Club, Jaycees, and the Chamber of Commerce. Remember: Friends do business with friends.

Other Prospecting Techniques

In addition to the more formal prospecting sources, there are three informal techniques that a salesperson will find helpful.

Personal Observation

Many clients will simply evolve if you stay aware and alert to situations taking place around you. Follow the media to identify companies moving to your area and to stay knowledgeable regarding news of existing companies, such as expansions or new contracts. Remaining alert and being aware of changes taking place around you will allow you to add a substantial number of potential prospects to your list.

Conversing

As is often the case in the process of interviewing a potential customer, the initial conversation will be largely small talk. During this time the salesperson is afforded the opportunity to discuss or listen for the names of people that could be potential referred leads. In other words, be a good listener.

As an example, "I see, Bill, that you are on the Board of XYZ company. Who serves on that Board with you?" "I notice, Dorothy, there is a new business down the street. Can you tell me who is the owner of that business?" Following the interview, make a note of those names so you can call on them as a form of a referred lead.

Situation Prospecting

People often buy products because a change has taken place that suggests a need for the product or service sold. Situation prospecting concentrates effort on asking for situations rather than asking for names of individuals. As an example, "Mary, of your acquaintances or business associates, have any recently gone into business for him-or herself?"

Prospecting Exercise

As the preceding discussion illustrates, prospects can be obtained in a variety of ways. You are only limited by your degree of creativity. In the following prospecting exercise, taking 5 minutes to identify other sources or methods for prospecting. Do some brainstorming and let your creative juices flow.

Build and Upgrade Clientele

In addition to where and how buyers are found, a salesperson needs to know how to build and upgrade clientele. First, identify the target market of your particular company. Should you be seeking to identify prospective business travelers, associations, vacationers, or conventioneers? If business travelers are the primary market of your firm, are you interested in attracting small businesses, professional practices, divisions of large corporations, or large multinational corporations? The more precise you are about what comprises your target market, the better job you can do at building your client base.

Building a clientele provides a salesperson with a continuous and adequate supply of high-grade probable buyers. Professional sales representatives regard their prospect file in the same light as they regard their personal bank account. They know that they must make regular deposits to offset withdrawals. If they fail to do this, they know that their prospect account will soon become bankrupt.

Preapproach

To effectively conduct business with prospects, so that both your time and the prospects' time are well spent, you must know and understand the prospects and their respective businesses. In other words, you should research the prospects and their companies so that you have all the available facts before meeting with the prospect. An executive vice president of a large company, for example, becomes very irritated with salespeople who question him about information that is readily available on the company's web site. This executive feels that such salespeople are wasting his time and he refuses to do business with them.

The information you need to conduct a strong sales interview and presentation is often available on the Internet, in annual reports, in company brochures, and in news items. Other information may be obtained by calling or visiting the company's office and speaking to the receptionist or the secretary of the decision-maker you hope to see. You can simply explain that you are seeking information that will help you develop a rapport with Mr./Ms. Doe, and that you would appreciate any information the receptionist can provide. Always ask, "Can you please help me?" In other words, work to qualify the prospect by determining if there is a need for your product/service and whether the prospect is the decision-maker. Let prospects know that you are serious about gaining their business by doing your homework!

Prior to calling on clients there are some questions that you should try to answer regarding prospects and their respective firms. While this list is fairly extensive, your goal should be to learn as many facts about the prospects and their companies as possible, prior to your sales presentation.

* What is the prospect's business or association?

* What is it that the prospect's company does?

* Where does the firm operate?

* Who are the key decision-makers in the prospect's firm?

* What are the company's geographical patterns or limitations?

* Who are the major competitors of the prospect's firm?

* What major trends are occurring in the prospect's particular industry?

* Does the prospect's company use hospitality services? When and how often?

* What is important to the prospect's decision-makers when selecting a particular hospitality service?

* With whom does the prospect's company do business for hospitality services and why?

* Who is responsible for preparing meeting and event budgets? Who approves these budgets?

* What is the company's time cycle for meetings and other events?

* What is the company's lead time for meetings and other events?

* What kind of attendance is expected at company meetings or events?

* What is the typical duration of a company meeting or event?

In addition to questions about the prospect's business, it is helpful to obtain personal information about the prospect, which may assist you in rapidly developing a rapport through common interests. Consequently, you may want to know:

* Is the prospect married? If yes, what is the spouse's name?

* Does the prospect have children?

* What college did the prospect attend?

* What are the prospect's hobbies?

Preapproach Exercise

The more information you know about your prospect, the better your ability to develop rapport and to tailor your sales presentation. In the following preapproach exercise, take a few minutes to identify key pieces of information, other than those previously discussed, that should be obtained prior to making your initial sales presentation.

Customer Mapping

As many researchers have noted, one way salespeople can be substantively more effective is by mapping out the buying roles of their prospects. (6) Essentially, in any sale there are four customer roles involved. In complex sales, one or more persons may serve in each role, while in more simple sales, one person may serve in several roles. The customer roles include:

* Final Decision-maker. This person has the final say regarding the decision to buy, and may veto the sale even when all others have said yes or may approve the sale when all others have said no. This individual has the ability to release the funds to complete the sale.

* User. This individual will use or supervise the use of your product or service. This person's success is often tied to how well your product or service works. Hence, the user will be judging your product/service based on how much it will enhance his or her performance or status.

* Influencer. This individual sets specifications and therefore pares down or eliminates the list of potential suppliers. The influencer will base the recommendations on how well the product or service meets the specifications. Although the influencer cannot approve the purchase of your product or service, he or she can give a final veto. Beware, sometimes influencers believe they are the final decision-makers when they are not. You should ask enough questions to ensure that you have identified the final decision-maker.

* Mentor. The mentor provides information and advises you as to how you might best obtain the sale. The mentor is someone who can benefit in some way by your gaining the sale. Thus, the mentor will provide guidance regarding the people who will be most influential in determining the success of the sale. The mentor must be someone who believes in you and your product/service, and has a great deal of credibility with the buying organization.

It is critical to identify and understand the people who fill each of these roles as you move into the sales process. You should make personal contact with each individual who performs these roles, or arrange to have someone else from your firm make the contact.

Customer Mapping Exercise

Think about one account with which you are working. On the following chart, identify the individuals who fit each role. Next, estimate the degree of influence (high, medium, or low) that you believe each of these individuals holds in determining the success of your sale. Finally, assess the degree (strong, neutral, or weak) to which you have developed a relationship with that individual. If you do not know the individual(s) who fills each of these buying roles and the amount of influence they control, you should recognize this as a red flag--meaning your position with regard to selling this account is weak. (7)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Buyers' Receptivity to Change

As part of the analysis of prospects, a salesperson should also evaluate the prospective buyers' degree of satisfaction with their supplier of the product or service, as well as their satisfaction with their own business performance. When prospects recognize a gap between where they are and where they want to be, they are more receptive to change. Thus, they will be more receptive to a new product or service that will help them eliminate that gap. As a result, a salesperson will have a better chance of obtaining an appointment and closing a sale with these prospects. (8)

When the gap is small, the buyer is open to suggestions for improvement, but may not be actively seeking new solutions (Dissatisfied). The larger the gap, the more urgent the buyer's need to find a solution for closing that gap (Threatened). The threatened buyer is likely seeking new solutions and will need answers in a hurry. Conversely, when buyers believe they are doing as well as they can be (Complacent) or believe they are doing better than they thought they would be (Smug), they will be unreceptive to change. Hence, the ability to sell to these buyers is quite low, unless the salesperson can convince them that there is a threat to their current position on the horizon.

You should seek to identify your prospects' willingness to change early in the sales interview. Although you do not want to completely discount the buyers who are less receptive to change, you should focus on those prospects falling into the dissatisfied or threatened categories. You will find the sales process can be completed more rapidly with prospects in these two groups. You should, however, remain in routine, but not too frequent, contact with those prospects who fall into the smug or complacent categories, as their situations may change. Your prior acquaintance and perseverance may provide you with an advantage in eventually obtaining these accounts.

Change Receptivity Exercise

Go back to your customer-mapping chart from the previous exercise. Try to identify where each buyer stands in regard to change. Is the buyer recognizing a need for improvement? How strong is that need? Is the buyer merely dissatisfied or threatened? Is the buyer happy where he or she is? Is he or she complacent or smug?

After determining each customer's receptivity to change, rate each buyer on how he or she feels about your product/service using the following nine-point scale:

9 = extremely enthusiastic supporter

8 = strongly supportive

7 = moderately supportive

6 = slightly supportive

5 = disinterested

4 = slightly negative

3 = moderately negative

2 = strongly negative

1 = extremely strong adversary

If you do not know where each buyer stands in regard to change, or if you do not know how each buyer feels about your product/service, you should "red flag" the buyer. Until you have definitely learned otherwise, red-flagged buyers should be considered extremely strong adversaries.

Re-examine your customer-mapping chart again to be sure no inconsistencies exist. Are your change receptivity classifications (dissatisfied, threatened, complacent, smug) consistent with your ratings of how each buyer feels about your product/service? (9)

Key Concepts

Chapter 2 has focused on prospecting and preapproach. The key points of this chapter include:

* The three primary market segments within the hospitality industry are association meetings, conventions, and corporate meetings. Corporate meetings account for the greatest number of meetings, while conventions account for the largest meeting expenditures.

* Prospecting is finding potential customers who have a need for a product or service, and who possess the ability and authority to purchase from the salesperson.

* Methods of prospecting include the natural market, cold calling, referred leads, centers of influence, nests, repeat business, local organizations and companies, personal observation, conversing, and situation prospecting. Using referred leads is the most effective method of prospecting.

* Preapproach involves researching prospects and their companies, so the salesperson should have all available facts before making the sales presentation. Do your homework!

* Utilize customer mapping as a strategy to ensure that all those individuals that may be involved in the purchase decision have effectively been reached. If you cannot identify the final decision-maker, user, influencer, and mentor for each of your accounts, you should proceed with caution.

* Customer mapping is used to identify the degree of influence and receptivity to change that each individual involved in the decision process holds. In addition, customer mapping encourages the salesperson to assess the strength of the relationship that he or she has with each of these individuals.

Endnotes

(1) See Anonymous, "Meetings Market Outlook: Size of the Market," www.successmtgs.com/successmtgs/images/ pdf/sm_market%20overview.pdf.

(2) Heiman, Stephen E., Diane Sanchez with Tad Tuleja (1998), The New Strategic Selling, New York: Warner Books.

(3) McGarvey, Robert (1995), "Listen Up!" Entrepreneur, August, 104-110.

(4) Patrick Leone (2002), "The Right Way to Get Referrals," Advisor Today (October): 84.

(5) Lorge, Sarah (1998), "Selling101: The Best Way to Prospect," Sales and Marketing Management (January), 80.

(6) For detailed information on buying center research see Heiman, Stephen E., Diane Sanchez with Tad Tuleja (1998) The New Strategic Selling, New York: Warner Books; Johnston, Wesley J. and Jeffrey E. Lewin, "Organizational Buying Behavior: Toward an Integrative Framework," Journal of Business Research 35 (January 1996), 1-15; Lichtenthal, J. David (1988), "Group Decision Making in Organizational Buying: A Role Structure Approach," in Advances in Business Marketing, vol. 3, ed. Arch G. Woodside (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press), 119-157; Webster, Frederick E., Jr. and Yoram Wind (1972), Organizational Buying Behavior, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

(7) For more information on customer mapping, see Heiman, Stephen E., Diane Sanchez with Tad Tuleja (1998) The New Strategic Selling, New York: Warner Books; Lilien, Gary L. and M. Anthony Wong (1984), "Exploratory Investigation of the Structure of the Buying Center in the Metalworking Industry," Journal of Marketing Research 21 (February), 1-11; Woodside, Arch G. (1992), "Conclusions on Mapping How Industry Buys," in Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing, vol. 5 ed. Arch G. Woodside (Greenwich, CT; JAI Press, 1992), 283-300.

(8) For more information on buyer's responsiveness to change, see Heiman, Stephen E., Diane Sanchez with Tad Tuleja (1998) The New Strategic Selling, New York: Warner Books; McQuiston, Daniel H. and Peter R. Dickson (1991), "The Effect of Perceived Personal Consequences on Participation and Influence in Organizational Buying," Journal of Business Research 23 (September), 159-177.

(9) For a more detailed discussion of a buyer's willingness to change, see Heiman, Stephen E., Diane Sanchez with Tad Tuleja (1998) The New Strategic Selling, New York: Warner Books; Sheth, Jagdish N. (1973), "A Model of Industrial Buyer Behavior," Journal of Marketing, 37 (October), 50-56; Sheth, Jagdish N. (1996), "Organizational Buying Behavior: Past Performance and Future Expectations," Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 11, 3/4 7-24.
Table 2-1: 2001 Meetings Market

                      Corporate   Convention   Association    Total

Number of Meetings      844.1        11.8         177.7      1033.6
(in thousands)

Expenditures           $10.3        $16.6        $13.9       $40.8
(in billions)

Number of attendees     51.5         12.5         15.9        79.9
(in millions)

Source: Braley, Sarah J. F., editor. 2002. "Overview." Meetings &
Conventions, (August): 3-42.

Table 2-2: Ranking of Factors Considered Very Important in Selection
of a Facility/Hotel

                                  Corporate   Convention   Association

Quality of food service               1           3             4

Negotiable food, beverage,
and room rates                        2        2 (tie)          1

Number, size, and quality of
meeting rooms                         3           1             2

Cost of hotel or meeting
facility                              4           4             3

Efficiency of billing
procedures                            5           5             5

Meeting support services and
equipment                             6           6             8

Efficiency of check-in and
check-out procedures                  7           7             7

Number, size, and quality of
sleeping rooms                        8        2 (tie)          6

Assignment of one staff
person to handle all aspects
of meeting                            9           8             9

Source: Braley, Sarah J.F., editor. 1998. "The Big Picture." Meetings
& Conventions October: 19, 35; Meetings & Conventions' 2002 Meetings
Market Report.
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Date:Jan 1, 2004
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