3 Steps To Building Great Sales Relationships

When a potential customer first comes in contact with your ministry or business, do they encounter a selling or buying environment? For many of us, I would venture to say it’s a selling environment. In other words, you center your marketing and sales efforts primarily on you and your product.

While it’s important to tell people about your ministry or business, this should not be the main focus. Instead, concentrate on creating a buying environment, where the focus is on customers and what they want. A great way to create this environment is through building personal relationships with your potential customers.

At LifeWay’s Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers, our sales staff emphasize building relationships with both existing and prospective customers. Our desire is for our customers to connect personally with their salesperson. We strongly believe that people buy from people they like and to whom they feel connected. This means that making sales is all about the relationship.

You can do many things to build relationships with your customers, but here are three to focus on first and foremost:

1. Be a good listener. Too many sales people talk too much. If you do all the talking, then you’re creating a selling environment. Remember, it’s not about you and your facility. The goal is to give your attention to the customer and to create a buying environment. Concentrate on asking questions to get to know your customer. This will help build rapport and get the relationship off on the right foot. Find out what’s important to them, what they want, what they need, etc. The more they talk, the more engaged they become in the possibility of buying from you.

2. Partnership. We are a ministry, serving other ministries. We want our customers to know that we see ourselves as their ministry partner. This means we are willing to do whatever we can to help their ministry be successful, even if that means they don’t hold their event or conference with us. Putting their ministry first, above our desire to sell our facilities, helps us demonstrate our commitment to the relationship. Time and time again, this commitment has resulted in groups looking for ways to buy from us.

3. Frequency of contact. It’s difficult to build a personal relationship with someone you only contact once a year. The same is true in business. Most sales people only get in touch with their customers when they need something from them (i.e. a signed contract, a meal guarantee, rooming list, etc.). Instead, focus on maintaining regular, ongoing contact with your customers. These contacts can be in the form of a phone call, an e-mail, a handwritten note or even a link to an article you think they may find helpful. The “how” is not as important as the fact that you are willing to invest time in building the relationship.

A word of caution when it comes to contact frequency: Just as some friends need to be touched more than others, the same is true here. Be sure to get to know your customers well enough that you know how frequently you need to contact them.

Regardless of who the person you’re speaking to is , they all could be potential customers for your organization. How are you building your relationship with them? The answer to that question could go a long way in determining your ministry’s future direction.

7 Questions To Ask Your Event Coordinator

Every group that brings a meeting, conference or retreat to Glorieta or Ridgecrest is assigned an event coordinator from our staff. The same is true for pretty much any other meeting venue as well. This person’s responsibility is to work closely with the group leader or meeting planner to ensure the best possible experience for their group.

If you’re the group leader or meeting planner, please be sure to take full advantage of all your meeting coordinator has to offer. This individual is typically someone who works with dozens, if not hundreds, of groups each year and can be a great source of knowledge and information for you. It would be major mistake not to take advantage of that experience. After all, that’s why they’re there!

With that in mind, here are 7 questions you definitely want to ask your event coordinator during the planning process:

  • How long does it take to get from one location to another on campus? – Depending on the size of the facility you’re using, this could be a significant time factor. When planning out your schedule, be sure to allow time for participants to get from location to another.
  • Where do my people go upon arrival on campus? – Telling your folks where to go once they arrive will help to eliminate a good deal of potential confusion and frustration.
  • What is there to do for free time activities, both on campus and in the surrounding area? Excellent info to share with attendees before they leave for the meeting/retreat. Allows them to plan and pack accordingly.
  • What other groups will be on campus the same time as us? – Not that you would have any say, but just knowing can help head off any potential issues before they happen.
  • What do we do in case of emergency? – At Ridgecrest and Glorieta we want people to contact us so that we know where to direct emergency personnel when they arrive on campus.
  • Can we bring in our own food for snacks/meals? – Most hotels/conference centers will not allow you to bring in your own food. If this is something you’d like to do, it never hurts to ask.
  • Can we reserve a section in the dining room for our group? – If you’re the only group on campus this is not really an issue. However, if yours is one of several groups, this is definitely something to ask about.

What about you? What are some other questions you’ve learned to ask ahead of time?

Our New Websites Are Live!

We normally don’t post promotional info on this blog, but we are so excited about our new Ridgecrest and Glorieta websites that I’ve made an exception. The sites have been under development for the past 4-6 months and a lot of thought went into trying to make them as user friendly as possible for our meeting planner audience. We tried to put ourselves in your shoes and create simple navigation to help you quickly find the information you might be looking for.

For instance, under the “Facility Rental” tab we’ve created planner personas (meeting planner, church staff, youth leader, etc.) to help you easily find the information you need, based on the type of meeting you’re planning. Under each persona we also offer contact information for all of our sales and event staff, as well as an RFP form and a PDF of our policies.

A new area of the website we think you will find very helpful, also under Facility Rental, is the “Resources” section. In this area you will find our extensive meeting planner guide, as well as a campus map and a property brochure, all in a printable PDF format. In addition, there is also a library of high resolution photos that are available for you to use to help promote your event at Ridgecrest or Glorieta.

Again, these websites were designed with you, our customer, in mind. I encourage you to take a few minutes and surf the site and then tell us what you think. In particular we’d love to hear suggestions you may have for additions to the “Resources” section.

Thanks, in advance, for your feedback!

Oops…almost forgot to mention. The sites now have new, easier to remember, URL’s. Here they are:

A Look Behind the Scenes at SBC 2010

Once again it’s that time of year. Time for the annual Southern Baptist Convention. This year we’re in Orlando, FL at one of the world’s largest convention centers. Needless to say, this place is huge and we’re only using a small part of it. Can’t imagine how large the group would have to be to use the whole thing!

As many of you know, a lot of work goes into pulling off a convention, especially one with a large trade show exhibit area. That’s certainly true with the SBC. Although the exhibit area feels a little smaller this year, it’s still pretty much a zoo during set up days. Good thing our area’s only 20’x30′. Doesn’t take nearly as long to set up as some of the braver folks!

We’re going to have a great time this year. If you’re going to be at the convention, please be sure to stop by and see us. If you’re not able to make it…here’s a little sneak peek at what we’re doing this year. Enjoy!

SBC 2010

Congratulations!

We are pleased to announce the first winner of our quarterly email subscription give away. John and Cathy Payne, with Church of God of Prophecy, are the winners of a complinmentary two night stay at either Ridgecrest or Glorieta Conference Center!

If you would like to be in the drawing next quarter, all you have to do is subscribe to our blog via email. You can do so by entering your email address in the blank below where it says “Subscribe” (top right). That’s all there is to it. If you are already subscribed, then you do not need to do anything else. You will automatically be entered.

As always, thanks for visiting our site. We trust you found it helpful and we look forward seeing you back here soon!

5 Tips For Planning A Golf Retreat

I recently read a good post for planning a golf retreat from a friend, Scott Lehman. Scott is the founder and president of In His Grip Golf and we have partnered with Scott on several Pastors Masters golf events at Ridgecrest and Glorieta. In fact, if you’re going to be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando this June, be sure to stop by our booth as Scott will be there giving a series of putting lessons.

Anyway, if you’re considering planning a golf retreat, here are some great tips from a golf pro!

I have been playing this great game of golf for over 40 years and have been on my share of golf retreats.  In fact, I am just returning from our In His Grip Golf Retreat that I hosted at Limestone Springs in Oneonta, AL.  A great course with a golf cottage on site.   Experience has revealed a few “best practices” and I would love to share them with you.

1.  Define your Purpose: You may want to talk to your guys first to see what would be their ultimate golf retreat experience.  I am starting to learn that guys want to play A LOT of golf, BUT, they also want some DOWN TIME.   We always try to use our In His Grip retreats to have a message in the evening or make it available for certain prayer requests.  This past weekend we spent time praying over our Senior Pastor who is battling cancer.

2.  Date and Location: Most of the golf retreats I have been on are either in the spring or in the fall.  When booking your date and location remember to stay away from course maintenance weeks and you may want to consider daylight savings time.

3.  Determine Your Budget: Hey, we are in challenging economic times and that means that our personal budgets are more sensitive than ever.  Searching the Internet for deals is still a great resource and most golf facilities need the business so don’t be afraid to ASK.

4.  Define your Formats Upfront: I like to send out the formats and teams ahead of time.  I also like to switch it up.  For example, we started out with a two-man scramble, then we had a two-man best ball and finished with a four-man scramble.  It’s a great way to build new relationships and allows for all playing ability levels to have a good time.

5.  Caravan to Build Camaraderie: We always try to have a central meeting point, like our church, and then load up the vehicles so we don’t have anyone driving solo.  It is amazing how many memories are also on the ride to or from the course.

I hope one or two of these keys will help make your next golf retreat experience more memorable.  You may even want to consider a survey from the guys to get their input.  Let me know what some of  your golf retreat experiences have been and what is your favorite golf retreat location and why?

I hope to see you on the course.  Scott

Why Should I Use An RFP?

When it comes to planning and booking your next meeting, retreat or event, utilizing a well thought out RFP (request for proposal) process can be a great time and money saver. Obviously, the larger the meeting, the more critical it is to use an RFP, but that doesn’t mean RFP’s aren’t beneficial for smaller meetings as well.

Johnson Spring - Ridgecrest

When you choose to use an RFP process, you basically have 2 options. The first option would be to utilize an RFP form provided by the facilities you’re interested in using. Here are some examples: Ridgecrest/Glorieta, Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Lake Williamson. The advantage is these are generally online forms that can be completed quickly and submitted to the facilities electronically. The downside is they are usually pretty generic and don’t ask for a lot details. You also give up control of how their bid comes back to you, thus making it more difficult to compare all the bids to each other.

The second option, which definitely takes a little more time on the front end, is to create your own custom RFP. After creating the RFP, you would then send it to each of the facilities you’re considering for your event, have them complete it and return to you. Having each facility complete the same RFP makes it much easier for you to compare “apples to apples” when it comes to all the financial details of the proposal.

While either option is better than just picking up the phone and calling facilities, I would definitely recommend taking the time to create your own RFP. In the process of creating your RFP, go through your meeting day by day and account for everything you will need from the facility. Doing so offers the following 4 advantages:

  1. More complete and competitive bids – The more information you give, and ask for, in your RFP, helps the facility to better understand your group’s needs. This should then allow them to be more competitive in their pricing.
  2. Less telephone tag – While I sometimes enjoy a good game of telephone tag…NOT! Simply, the more information exchanged in the RFP, the less the need for follow up telephone questions.
  3. Smoother negotiations – Because the facility knows all of your needs up front, they will usually be more open to negotiate. As a hotel operator, I was much more inclined to play give and take with a client that had laid all their needs out on the table. The last thing I wanted to see happen was for me to make a concession, only to see the group come back and ask for more stuff I was not even aware they wanted.
  4. No big surprises – This one’s huge. Neither you, or the host facility, want to get hit with big NEGATIVE surprises during the event. By taking the time up front to create a detailed RFP, you go a long way towards eliminating those big surprises no one wants to see.

What about you? Do you use RFP’s? Please feel free to share what has worked for you in the past.

Why Ridgecrest and Glorieta are perfect for Spiritual Retreats

SpiritualRetreats_120x120.jpg Even though I work for LifeWay I feel compelled to share with you why I believe Ridgecrest and Glorieta to be the perfect places for Spiritual Retreats.  I get the pleasure of seeing the weekly testimonies shared with us about how these retreats have changed peoples lives.  Here are just a few quotes.

“Being at Glorieta has inspired me every time I have stayed there.  God’s beauty in creation and in the friendly faces of the staff send me off a changed person!”

“Without the intrusion of television my family and I were able to really spend quality time together as a family with the lord.  Our family grew closer together during our stay.”

“The Lord is definitely in this place!  I am still on a spiritual high and have been home for a week.”

If you choose to visit Ridgecrest or Glorieta.  I hope you will take full advantage of the many recreation opportunities and area attractions available.  But more importantly, I hope that you include in your plans to visit, time for God to work in your life.  I have always enjoyed getting up early and walking to the lake, campus is so peaceful in the mornings.  Whatever you choose to do, I know you will come away blessed.

Getting away on a spiritual retreat will transform your life, if you let it. In Matthew 6:33-34 we are told “But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.”