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Business Intelligence | Why making 100 Calls is a Bad Idea

Business Intelligence.

Arn Enterprizes believes everyone should own a website and is dedicated to creating a Web Presence for all of San Diego's small businesses.  There is no doubt about it; if you're not actively marketing your business online, you are losing opportunities, Because your competitors are.

The good news is that, more than ever, the future is Local, and small businesses like yours are more often being recognized for what they are: the heart and soul of the
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You Should Have a Website.

My Awakening to Intelligence:
A short story for modern business.

"Work smarter not harder."

We've all heard that old saying before, but what does it really mean? How exactly does one: "work smarter?"

Why does one salesperson thrive while the rest stumble or lag behind. Are they a better salesperson? Yes, perhaps. Sometimes it is indeed a question of people skills. But more often than not it is a question of opportunities. One of the dirty secrets of sales is that the more successful salesperson or sales-group oftentimes have no better product or ability than their competition. In fact they are more likely successful because they have put themselves into a position to garner more high-quality opportunities.

My first Sales job was in hotels where I worked selling group/ corporate rates and packages. The job required I make 100 sales calls a week, no matter what. I learned at our first company-wide sales meeting how important those calls were when I witnessed several senior sales persons publicly immolated by the CEO for not meeting their quota. Message received.

Our prospective clients were listed in a book or set up through a client management system.  Often the only common factor uniting them was that they were in an industry that might (however remotely) have a business need for hotel rooms. All that mattered was that I made my sales calls. I absolutely had to meet my minimum, otherwise I could be sure to expect a blistering phone call from on high.

I realized quite quickly that not nearly enough research put into the who might be at the other end of the calls I was making. 'Prospecting' as it is called, is essentially the amount -or lack thereof- of research that goes into each prospective client. Do they really have a need for hotel rooms? or are we calling them because they are on the list? Is there any way to differentiate between high-probability prospects and low probability ones? The answers to these questions should be determined during the prospecting process.

The prospecting system at that hotel had been nonexistent for a number of months, and our odds of improving it were slim. Given the Sales Staff was tied up in its highly aggressive--yet effectually questionable-- calling campaign, things looked bleak. In that environment my success per call ratio was at best average or worse.

Occasionally I would listen to my boss, a senior Director of Sales as she made her same 100 phone calls. Her skill at maneuvering a conversation was light years beyond mine. It was amazing hearing how coolly and convincingly she could brush off objection after objection. Even with her talent and skill however, her success rate probably never exceeded 10% while making these mandatory sales calls.

Ironically, the drive to perform such calls often took the both of us away from other duties which would have netted far more sales than our dismal calling performances ever did.

That's when I began to realize what intelligence really was.

Luckily for me, my position in the company before moving to Sales was at the Front Desk where I was absolutely surrounded by customers. I had known many of our most faithful guests for years, in fact. Not only was I always around them, but more importantly I was always around their data.

For years I had meticulously typed every variable of their stays into our reservation system. It wasn't long before patterns had begun to emerge. Certain IATA numbers, and unique stay attributes denoted that perhaps this incoming guest was more than just a one-nighter. Perhaps they usually stayed somewhere else and ended up at my property due to a complication. How might I, as a savvy Front Desk Agent, best make advantage of this situation?

I learned to identify the clues that made any  particular guest a good prospect for group or corporate inquiries.

These were the things I learned at the Front Desk, processing data. My Director of Sales and I would go onto use that knowledge, the ability to identify and sift through data, to develop a better prospecting system  Eventually we made new lists; shorter ones.

Would you rather make 100 phone calls only being successful 5% of the time; or would you prefer to make 20 phone calls and be successful 90% of the time?

It wasn't long before our hotel was swamped with so many new group sales, we barely had time to make any phone calls whatsoever! Assisting current clients became all we were capable of.

That story embodies not only the "work smarter not harder" mantra; it also encompasses another critical notion: Business Intelligence. Using Intelligent processes and inferences to effect advantageous outcomes.

I know everyone likes to imagine that they are the ones "working smarter." But let's admit there are plenty of very smart people out there still hard at work making their 100 phone calls a week. They are using broken systems and mismanaged assets, and in the process are not only wasting money, but wasting their own vital motivation as well.

Business Intelligence, at its core is about using data and modern tools to help people work smarter not harder.

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