One of the best jokes about sales people goes something like this, “Ever wonder how to get a sales person to stop working? Just put a telephone in front of them.” I have heard this joke in a variety of renditions over the years, and have personally seen it with teams I have managed. As I’ve worked with various player development teams, this still seems to be their greatest fear, picking up the phone to call a guest. I hear excuses like, “What do I say to them?” or “We don’t have anything else to offer them.” As Sales Managers (PD Managers) we refer to this dilemma as “call reluctance.” If you suffer from this, don’t worry, most sales people do. The good news is that regardless of the industry, there are ways to work through it.
Overcoming Call Reluctance
The best way to start overcoming call reluctance is to look at the big picture. Why are we contacting these guests? What’s the purpose of my call? Most properties have Loyalty or Rewards Programs where guests are rewarded based on the money they spend at the casino, right? If you are only calling a guest to find out if they can attend the Slot Tournament on Sunday, you are missing the big picture.
Loyalty is built over time and so should our sales approach. When the guest has an experience they enjoy (i.e., playing slots, table games, or VIP events), they naturally want to experience it again and again.
To quote my good friend and Raving Partner, Janet Hawk, she always says people want three things:
1. To be seen
2. To be heard
3. To know they matter
Don’t simply pick up the phone and call them with their offers or promotions, you must engage your guests and then let them speak. If you give them enough time, they will tell you everything they want and expect from you and your property.
Here are three things you can do to help overcome call reluctance and work to build loyalty with your guests on the phone:
1. Identify a reason for the call
This helps you justify in your mind and theirs, the reason for the call. It can be a variety of purposes such as:
- “How did you like the last VIP event?”
- “When is your partner’s birthday or your anniversary?”
- “I was just thinking about you and wanted to check-in.”
- “We haven’t seen you in a while and wanted to make sure you were okay.”
- “I just realized that I don’t have an email address for you, do you prefer direct mail or can I get an email for you?”
2. Be real
This sounds so simple. Yet, it is one of the most challenging skills to develop as a sale or PD rep. This means you have to stop talking and listen! If you are talking, you are not listening. If you are not listening, you won’t be learning, and you won’t know how to lead the conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests how they feel, what their experience was like, or why they haven’t been back to see you. Then, stop talking and listen!
3. Don’t be short-term minded
It’s okay to call a guest to invite them to an event or to remind them of their offers but don’t let that be the only reason for your call. Identify another reason for the call and start with that reason first. This is your back-up plan if they can’t make it. What ever you do, don’t just end the call because they are going to be out of town for the event. This is where you let them know that it isn’t a big deal they are missing the event and that you look forward to seeing them when they get back. You have to look at the big picture and maintain a long term strategy.
Sight is for people that can only see what is directly in front of them. Vision is being able to look to the horizon and imagine what could be. Sometimes we evaluate a guest based on their historical play or experience, not what their play could be. I hope this helps you or someone on your team overcome call reluctance by building loyalty over the phone. Want to learn why phone calls are one of the most effective tools at building loyalty with your players? Give me a shout, I’d love to chat!