Reading may have a spot on the Monopoly board through its railroad that went bankrupt in the 1970s. But a hotel in this city an hour's drive northwest of Philadelphia should give it a place on the economic map when it comes to the timeless power of great service to produce great sales.
A few weeks ago, I experienced service at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Reading that went beyond the word "excellent." From the moment you walked into the hotel you were greeted by Craig Poole, the hotel manager, like you were visiting family.
I'm sure at one time or another you've experienced great service, but something was different here. It was so genuine and natural without the typical forced smile that you see when boarding a plane. This was probably because everyone from the manager on down seemed as though they loved their job.
When employees have great attitudes and go out of their way to make you feel important, they are demonstrating the most important characteristic of great salespeople, one that will always have you coming back. (And this hotel gets plenty of repeat business, including from locals.)
What Craig and his team did was what every top salesperson needs to do--whether it's 50 years ago, today or in the future. It come down to this: People buy from people they like, trust and respect.
This seems to be the most common statement made by the best sales people in the business when I ask them to share their secret for sales success. So I decided to call up Craig and ask him how he turned all his employees into great salespeople. These are his five secrets:
Focus everyday on selflessness.
"It's not about me. How do I make my customers more successful. We make sure everyone from the front desk, restaurant and housekeeping to sales and catering are embracing this philosophy."
Understand your customer’s needs.
"Our goal is to engage the customer and find out the reason and purpose of their visit. Is it a convention, funeral, sports team? And then how to make it more successful for them. At 9 a.m. we have a general meeting and discuss everybody who's coming in and what they're coming in for. Our breakfast room, bar and restaurant all know what's going on and are involved in the sales side of the business, even housekeepers."
Do the little things.
"If I see someone sitting and maybe reading the paper, I will ask them if they would like some coffee and bring it over to them personally. Everybody here has that focus on the customer. We have one client that needs a special pillow every time he stays with us. We customize rooms for key clients."
Hire people who have exceptional sales skills and great attitudes.
"I only hire people that have that ability, that mind set. It took three years to weed out the people who did not fit in."
Add that special touch and differentiate yourself from the competition.
"We have a 260 room convention hotel that we run like a bed and breakfast. … We have bus tours. Every time a bus comes in, we all go out and meet everyone on the bus, and I introduce myself as Willy Wonka. ... Chef and waiters come out and sell this like a Willy Wonka experience. Everybody gets involved including the controller--everybody."
Craig says sales success is about customer engagement, creating an emotional link, understanding customer' needs, being a problem solver, being genuine, having a passion, having a great attitude, and demonstrating drive.
That's not a bad recipe for sales success.