Making the switch from Hospitality Sales to Corporate Sales during COVID-19

Daniel Murphy
Nov 27, 2020 · 5 min read

After working in Hospitality Sales / Account management for nearly 2 years here at FREE NOW, Coronavirus hit us! Like many many others, I didn’t know what was going to happen and the worrying started as the fear of job security set in! As the weeks went on we slowly realised that the Hospitality sector was in serious trouble and may not be back to some kind of normal for a long time!!

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We brainstormed to see what we do on that side of things and above all, we kept in touch with our current accounts to see if we could help them in any way (e.g. offering a delivery service for restaurants), while also working on a few other projects. After many discussions with our leadership team, we realised that we needed to focus on the bigger picture. As it stands, approximately 88% of hotel beds will lie empty this month and it was the same story last month as well. According to the RAI, it is predicted that 50% of their member restaurants will be forced to permanently close. As a result, we knew we had to put our focus on the corporate side of the business.

Making the switch over was not as daunting as I initially thought it would be. I had been in customer-facing roles all of my life so I was used to chatting with people face to face and having a proper ‘get to know you’ chat. However, during my first month I was well out of my comfort zone (I still am, to be honest — but please don’t tell Ailish, our Head of Sales! ). The building relationships side of things had now completely changed and I needed to find a way to do what I had done for so long via email, phone and video calls.

Photo sourced from unsplash.com

1st Month

My first month was purely focused on one thing; the start of the dreaded cold calls. This, once again, put me way out of my comfort zone!

As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” — Robin S. Sharma

Along the way, I’d also started to build up a pipeline of accounts to get in touch with. Before making each call to these potential customers, I had a huge unavoidable feeling of guilt. With COVID-19 still in full flow, each call I made in my first month left me waiting helplessly for someone to tell me ‘where to go’!

2nd Month

When I got into my second month and after making nearly 100 calls, I realised that I really should have nothing to feel guilty about. In the back of my mind, I am genuinely trying to help these businesses with our great service. I know FREE NOW provides the best service & lowest wait times in the country, so I had absolutely nothing to worry about. If someone was not interested at the time (which understandably, a lot weren’t given the current climate), I would simply just send a follow-up email and leave it at that. I’ll contact them when things start to return to normal or wait until the time that they asked me to but I won’t start to annoy them as some salespeople do. I don’t want to be the person sending emails every week asking for a meeting (you know the ones!!).

Biggest Differences

When I made the swap, I had to ask myself: What is the biggest difference between Hospitality and Corporate sales? As well as the conversation being totally different, there is also a lot more work to do in order to find the right person in the business. The process takes a lot longer as it’s not always obvious who you should be trying to contact and the cold call to reception, while sometimes fruitful, normally leads to a bigger challenge than previously anticipated. So for me, that is the biggest change that I’ve had to adapt my mindset to. The process from start to finish with a XL corp account can take a long time. Some require long IT checks, some require a tender process but I know that in the end, it will be worth it for both sides.

So to sum up! Now that I am (slowly but surely) building up my own pipeline, I am really enjoying it! The worries are nearly gone — COVID is still about so I think there’s a little worry in everyone — and I am just getting stuck in helping out current accounts and contacting new accounts.

What’s Next?

What’s next for me? December is usually our busiest month for hospitality with bars, restaurants and hotels packed out with people enjoying the festive season! This year will be a little different but in saying that, we do wish our hospitality customers and the whole hospitality industry the best of luck coming into the Christmas period and going into 2021. I really do hope I am back popping into hotels, bars and restaurants for those face to face chats, very soon!! I have also really missed attending all of the excellent events that usually take place throughout the year. As you’ll see from the picture below taken at the Les Clefs d’Or Gala in 2019.

If you’d like to have a chat about your account or you are interested in setting up a new one for your company, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss! Also, feel free to follow and share our Free Now for Business Linkedin page, which is packed full of similar content!

Cheers,
Daniel

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