Building Relationships: As Taught To Me By a Hotel Employee


As Willie Nelson sang, I’m “on the road again.” And when you’re on the road, you experience sales and service sometimes at its finest…and sometimes at its worst. Tonight, I found it at its finest.

Checking in to my hotel at midnight with delayed flights, I was greeted by Steven who is the best relationship builder I have ever met. Steven knew more about me after 5 minutes of conversation than most people do in 6 months…not by uncomfortable questioning, but true conversation where he listened and asked questions based off my answers.

For instance, he started with “oh my, late night for you…where did you originate from?” From there it was, ‘is it business bringing you in this evening?’ Once he realized where I was going and what I did, he talked about what I do and we discussed similarities in his position and mine. He asked my favorite sport and I asked his. The questions went on and it was an interesting conversation with me asking a bit about him and he asking about my travel life. When we got done, I realized…this gentleman had done a total CRM initial assessment in less than 5 minutes, I felt like I was with an old friend, and then he asked the million dollar question: How often do you select our hotels when you travel? What makes you decide whether to or not? But he didn’t ask until he had chatted with me for a bit and got to know me.

Why do we have such a hard time asking questions and building that relationship? Think about our conversation. What has it done? First, I look forward to seeing him on the evening shift. Second, my info is in the system now and hopefully the next time I stay at this brand, people will use the info to have a conversation and make me feel welcomed. Third, the hotel brand will work hard to get me to stay with their brand each time I travel now knowing what I do and how often I travel. This is smart CRM use done by a a great relationship builder.

All too often I hear reps ‘pitching’ a client and starting out conversations asking how are you today? I see you’ve come to x number of games. Where do you usually sit? How many do you plan on coming to this year? Etc. It’s not that the questions are bad, it’s just that if we get into it so quickly we sound like the light bulb should be hanging and we are in an interrogation room. We are in high sale mode and want to ‘pitch’ the sale so we can get one and move on. And how often does that work for you?

Wouldn’t it be great, if before we got into all that, we actually built some sort of relationship? If we found out a little more about them and instead of pounding out the 100 calls and sounding robotic, just sit back in our chair and actually envision the person we are calling and start a true conversation, wouldn’t we build a relationship easier? And more importantly, wouldn’t we begin to find needs better?

On the flip side, if we have a retention team, wouldn’t it be better for them to know things about the client before they even call or meet up with them? How valued does the client feel when people aren’t asking them the same questions but rather already knowing them and building off of that? When you start the relationship at the start of the sale, and fill in the info into your CRM system, you are making life easier for everyone…but most of all, for your client.

You can’t pitch without someone to catch. Make sure the person you are contacting will catch what your are trying to say…and the only way they will do that is with trust, integrity, and building that relationship. And by the way, I believe Steven would be an outstanding addition to a sports sales team!

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

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