A Sales Strategy to Increase Function Bookings

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2 A Sales Strategy to Increase Function Bookings It s Time to Start Selling Again! It s time to take on a sales oriented focus for the bowling business. Why? Most bowling centres have lost the art and the skill of selling that was a core factor in building their businesses in the 60 s, 70 s and 80 s. Instead, most bowling centres have relied on mass marketing to attract enough new and repeat business to allow them to achieve the levels of trade needed to maintain a healthy profit and a successful operation. Now that most traditional mass marketing media is becoming more and more costly and increasingly ineffective, bowling centres are now being forced to review their marketing strategies that are no longer working and develop new proactive sales strategies to engage existing and potential new customers in various ways to generate leads, referrals and extra sales. There is still a place for some limited mass marketing, (e.g. the occasional local area letterbox drop campaign, local newspaper etc), but increasingly small targeted sales campaigns with clear objectives and goals, a defined target market group and measurable sales results will be the way of the future. New media, (internet marketing, marketing, social media marketing), will play a part in the overall strategy, but will only be a part of the solution and not the silver bullet to solve every marketing problem. We all need to be more proactive in selling Tenpin Bowling Fun Functions.

3 Personal Sales Calls to Local Businesses and Organisations Rather than wait for new business to come to us, we need to go out into the local community and hunt for business. Most management and staff don t like making sales calls so you can expect that there will be an initial resistance to this suggested strategy. We need to overcome any resistance or fears we have about calling people and agree to be proactive about growing the business. We need to discuss and work out our sales pitch, rehearse our sales calls and do all we can to raise awareness about what our Centres offer and make it tempting and easy for new customers to spend money with us. Referrals and Recommendations A key part of the culture of the organisation should be that everyone, (all staff), are always looking for opportunities to ask for referrals from existing bowling customers. Your customers already know about your business and your good service, they are currently using the facilities... why wouldn t they recommend you to family, friends, neighbours and workmates? Asking for referrals shouldn t be a thing we try every so often, but instead it should be an ongoing process of building better relationships with our customers, getting to know more about where they work, what activities they are into and who do they know that might need a fun function at your centre. We need to have marketing material, offers and incentives to give to existing customers to make it easy for them to tell their contacts about us and prompt those people to contact us and make enquiries or bookings with us.

4 Quick Check Can You Improve? If you are like most proprietors and managers you have probably been operating your centre for 20 to 30 years or more. Over those years you would have had several hundred bookings for functions or group bookings from local businesses, schools and sporting groups etc. Every time you had a function booking did you... Keep detailed records of the booking? - Name of Group / Organisation - Number of People - What they Booked - Name of person who made the booking - Phone number and for that person Is all that previous booking information in a Functions database that can be easily checked and used for future contact about further function bookings? Do you regularly follow up with organisations who have had functions at your centre to see if they would like to book another function? Do your staff have scripts to guide them when they make their sales calls? Do you have current function brochures and function packages and prices information in PDF format that can be easily ed to organisations that you call on to encourage them to make another booking? When you have functions in your centre do you give function guests any marketing material to encourage them to tell their family, friends, neighbours, workmates etc about the functions in your centre? Do you post images of functions on your centre Facebook page so guests can see their fun images and share them with friends? If you answered no to most of these questions then you have enormous potential to grow your functions business by having a more proactive sales strategy.

5 Getting the Basics in Place [1] Setup and create a customer information database. A term you need to be aware of is CRM Customer Relationship Management. CRM is the current jargon that s used to describe a system for managing your current and future customers. An important thing to remember when you are deciding on what type of database or CRM system to use is to choose an option that is really simple for you and your staff to setup and use. A lot of database software and CRM systems are overly complicated and have many additional features that you will pay for but most likely never use. You have several options when it come to setting up a database or CRM system. You can use software installed on your computer or cloud based online software. Software Installed on your Computer Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet A simple low cost option would be to use Microsoft Excel software that you probably already own. By using a basic spreadsheet template you ll be able to add contacts and keep track of calls and follow up action. The good thing about using Excel is that if you decide to upgrade to a more advanced database system at a later stage, you can easily export your data from Excel and import it into your new database system which will save you many hours of of work as you won t need re-entering all of your data manually. Excel is a good starting point for most centres but a better option would be to use proper database software. Click here to download a free Excel Template Filemaker The next step up from Excel is a program called Filemaker which is specifically designed to create proper databases with all the features you d require. (Filemaker is similar to Microsoft Access that some people may be familiar with. Filemaker software runs on PC s and MAC s.) If you ve never used Filemaker software before, there will be a learning curve to understand how to

6 use the software and how to create and customise a database to meet your specific needs. One bowling proprietor has already created a simple to use Filemaker CRM template that is ideal for marketing functions and other services for bowling centres. He has made the template a cloud based version of Filemaker which means that you don t need to install any software on your computer. You just use the browser on your computer, laptop or mobile device to visit your online Filemaker database, log in and then you have full access to your database and client records. You can also set up access for your marketing staff so that they can access your database from work or home. This software has a reporting system built in so that you can monitor exactly what sales calls and follow up activity your staff have been making. (If you would like to know more about this Filemaker Database Template you can contact Paul Simkus M: ) Cloud Based Online Software If you do a Google search for Online CRM Software you will find dozens of companies that offer online services. Many offer a free trial option but in most cases you ll end up having to pay a monthly fee depending on the number of staff you want to have access your database and the number of client contacts that will be on your database. Some of the leading CRM options are: SalesForce, Team Support, InfusionSoft, mhelpdesk and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. One tech savvy bowling proprietor is currently using the InfusionSoft system and is impressed with the range of features it offers which automate data collection and the automatic sending of s and information to customers. (If you would like to know more about the InfusionSoft system you can contact John Griffin Ph: ) Most of these professional online CRM services offer many features that most centres won t utilise unless you and your staff are tech savvy and have the time to dedicate to setting up and implementing many of the optional features. Unless your intend to be really serious about database sales and marketing you re probably best to stick to a simple database option like Filemaker, using either the desktop software or the online software option.

7 Choose a Database system that suits your needs. As setting up and using the right database will help to drive your sales activities and it s important to select a system that suits your needs and budget. We ve outlined a couple of options for you to consider. As you research what is the right database system for you, consider talking to other proprietors who are using database systems or other business people that you know to get their comments on what system they use and how effective it is. The key thing is it is not about the type of system that you use, it is that you have a system that is: - Easy to use for all staff - Provides simple easy reports so that results can be measured accurately - Cost effective

8 [2] Start adding contact information to your database. Once you have selected a database system to use, it s time to start adding the data. Initially you should try to locate and add the contact information for all businesses, school groups, sporting groups etc that have had bowling functions at your centre for the past few years. You may have this information recorded in a bookings diary or other function records that you keep. After you ve entered that data you might find it interesting to do a quick bit of research and work out rough percentages of the types of groups that have been booking functions at your centre e.g. what percentage were small businesses, what percentage were medium to large businesses, what percentage were school groups, what percentage were sports groups etc. Seeing these stats might give you ideas on where to target your new marketing efforts. Oher contact information can be gathered by you or your staff doing Google searches for the obvious businesses, schools, sporting groups etc in your marketing area. Almost all of those organisations will have websites with contact information that you can copy and add to your database.

9 [3] Prioritise the contacts with the most potential. Rather than starting to make your sales calls in alphabetical order or at random, you should prioritise which organisations have the most potential for booking a function with a large group of people. So, organisations who have previously booked functions for larger groups in the past couple of years and who have never been followed up would be the obvious starting point. Other obvious areas to target are organisations simular to the organisations that have had previous bookings at your centre e.g. if the local Big W social group had a function it would be a good idea to call you local Kmart and Target and make contact with the person who organises staff events.

10 [4] Start making sales calls. So, now you have a database and a list of organisations to call... it s now time to make your sales calls... the important thing is to make a start! Initally you should start with a few calls a day then increase the numbers as you and your staff become more confident with the process. Think about when is a good time to make your calls... most businesses may not want to be distracted with sales calls first thing in the morning and it might be better to call mid morning or mid afternoon. It probably is a good idea to set a couple of times a week to be your selling days so that staff get into the routine of knowing that a certain number of sales calls must be made every week. What to say when you make your phone calls. Words matter... the words you say and how you say them will affect the success of your selling efforts, so it s important to work out a script that works and gets results. Below is a suggested script that will help you and your staff to get started. Sample Phone Sales Script (For organisations who have previously had functions at your centre.) Hi, I m Mary Smith from XYZ Bowl. I look after social events at our centre and your company had a Xmas party at our centre last year and I just wanted to send you our current function information... could you please let me know the best person to talk to about that? In most cases you ll find you ll get a courteous response and they ll give you the name of the person you need to talk to. Make sure you write that name down and get the correct spelling of the name or enter it straight into your database. If the person you need to talk to is not available, ask if you can get that persons address so you can them the function info and call back at another time to follow up. If the person is available, (we ll call him Bill Jones), then you could say... Hi Bill, It s Mary Smith from XYZ Bowl. I look after social events at our centre and your company had a Xmas party at our centre last year and I just wanted to send you our current function information... were you at that event last November?

11 If he says yes then say... Well I hope you all had a good time.... and have a brief chat and listen to his feedback which hopefully will be positive. The next step... Bill our function dates are filling up fast between now and Xmas and I just wanted to you our current function information and see if you might like to have another Xmas party with us again this year? Stop and wait for a response... If he s not sure and has to check with other people at work then say... OK, well I ll you the current pricelist and brochure so you ll have all the info you ll need... what s the best address for you Bill? Write down Bill s address or enter it straight into your database. Bill my contact details will be in the ... please call me if you d like more information or would like me to make a booking for you. Thanks for your time today... goodbye. In your database you should make some notes to remind you that you spoke to Bill, he was interested in having another function, he needed to check with his boss and you ed him the functions info and perhaps he should be followed up with another call in a week or two to check he received the information and if they had made a decision about booking a function. Important! All staff who use the database really need to make notes about their calls so that if different staff make the follow up calls, they ll have all the relevant details they ll need.

12 [5] Send out functions information. Whenever possible, right after your phone call, the functions info straight away to the person who requested it, this will ensure that the is not forgotten and that you and your sales staff appear to be efficient and professional. What to ? You should prepare a functions kit that could include: - Your functions brochure - Functions packages and prices - Special brochures e.g. - Xmas Functions - End of School Year Parties - Sports Awards Nights. Make sure your clearly states who to call if they would like to make a functions booking.

13 [6] Tracking Function Sales Professional sales people always keep a record of the number of sales calls they make and also the number of sales they ve made, because over time this helps them learn approximately how many calls you need to make to get a sale and helps to hone their selling skills. It will be helpful for you to know the sales ratio for function sales for your centre, as you will then see that you can be proactive and build your functions business by making regular sales calls that do generate bookings. Knowing the sales ratio for your centre will also help to give a benchmark as to what results you can expect from staff. Say your sales ratio is 1 in 20, that s 20 calls to get 1 booking... if you have a staff member that is making 10 calls to get 1 sale then they are doing a good job... whereas if you have another staff member making 40 calls to get 1 booking then they are probably doing something wrong with their sales presentation and need assistance or extra training.

14 [7] Monthly Sales Targets Another way to motivate yourself and your sales staff is to go through your functions booking diary for the past 12 months and note how many functions you had in each of the previous 12 months. You could put that information on the wall in your office for staff to see in the form of a graph and proactively set new sales targets for the coming months with perhaps a 10% to 20% increase over the previous years numbers. Be sure to update the graph as new function bookings are received so that staff can see if they are on track to achieve the sales targets. This visual aid can be a great motivational tool.

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