The Importance of Developing Relationships to Win More Business

We’ve all heard the saying “Friends buy from friends” and its corollary, “Friends don’t fire friends.” These expressions capture the importance of developing friendships (aka relationships) in the world of sales. The message is loud and clear: when a salesperson makes friends with a client (whether a current or prospective one), they are more likely to win their business.

Why is this important to hotel owners, asset managers, corporate executives, and general managers?

Developing a relationship with an existing or potential client means the sales process will take longer. Hotel owners, asset managers, corporate executives, and general managers need to allow time for a salesperson to work on the relationship side before they focus on the sale. Clients made it clear in 2020 that they will remember those who continued to show interest in them over the past year and will call these people first when they need to book a hotel.

It also means that, despite current low conversion rates especially for the group and meetings market, it is important to bring salespeople back from furlough to reestablish these important relationships.

I recommend the following timeline for calling back group sales managers:

  • For small hotels (under 250 rooms) – 2 months prior to reopening
  • For medium and large hotels (250+ rooms) – at least 3 months prior
  • Large convention hotels (700+ rooms) – at least 4 months prior

But how does a hotel salesperson quickly develop a friendship with a client, especially during this time of reduced physical interaction when most conversation are conducted over e-mail and, at best, zoom calls?

Here are some practical tips on how to develop relationships:

  • Show genuine interest in the client themselves first, followed by their company.
  • Even when on the phone, smile. Ensure your voice is confident, warm, and welcoming, conveying that you are eager to work with the client. Maybe it’s time to put a mirror in your home office to make sure you are smiling when you’re on the phone.
  • Listen for cues regarding personal interests, values, concerns, challenges, and things in common. This maybe an opportunity to uncover personal needs that impact their work needs.
  • As appropriate, share things you have in common with the client but be sure to keep your stories short and then redirect back to the client. The point is that they do most of the talking.
  • At some point, pivot the conversation toward business with an attitude of partnership and trust.
  • Ask open-ended questions to find out what is important to them. These are questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

Examples of open-ended conversation starters:

  • How has your job changed in the last year?
  • Where are you dreaming of traveling to?
  • What do you miss the most in your ‘new normal’?
  • What has been your silver lining?

It’s a buyer’s market. It is critical for salespeople to set themselves apart from their competitors by staying in touch with existing and potential clients even when they aren’t booking. Doing this will ensure your hotel remains top of mind when they are ready to book. Salespeople need to be able to build a trusting relationship quickly and easily, the development of which takes skill and time.

Relationship development is a key component of the sales process. Ignoring it could mean it will take longer to gain traction once business starts to return and, ultimately, have a long-term negative impact on the hotel’s success.


"Business, after all, is nothing more than a bunch of human relationships." – Lee Iacocca, American Automobile Executive

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you" – Dale Carnegie, writer

Hire Jo-Anne to:

  • Motivate your sales team with brief, targeted monthly sales energizers.
  • Kick-start your sales and marketing organization for 2021.
  • Develop a strategic plan that focuses on the critical success factors.
  • Conduct a deep-dive review of your sales and marketing organization.
  • Remove barriers to getting things done.
  • Support your leaders with leadership executive coaching.
  • Convert the organization to embrace constant change and to thrive in it.
  • Engage a trusted advisor for consultation and recommendations.

If you would like to hear more, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected].

About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, the Dorchester Collection, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

Jo-Anne's New Book Cultivating Leadership Buy Cultivating Leadership Book from Amazonnewsletter-footer.jpg

This email was sent to *|EMAIL|*
why did I get this? unsubscribe from this list update subscription preferences