Leadership In Sales – Who’s Leading The Charge?

A little over a year ago I sent out an article about “Leadership in Sales”. I am sure that many of you looked at the subject and said to yourself, “I am the only Sales Professional on our property and I don’t have team meetings, so this really doesn’t apply to me” and then round filed the email. This year, I’d like to resurrect some of the ideas from that article and put them into motion at your hotel.

“Every associate on property from the GM to the housekeeper, from the maintenance person to the front desk clerk is a sales person for your hotel.” This must be the mindset for every hotel in our portfolio if we are going to succeed in generating new clients and maintaining our existing client base.

Let’s analyze why Sales Leadership is important and why timely and consistent communication is beneficial to not only our sales strategies but to the professional growth of every associate on property:

Do you regularly conduct sales meetings at your hotel? Do you incorporate sales training concepts into every departmental meeting?

  • It is our company’s requirement that monthly departmental meetings be held to review standards, updates, issues to be improved, rewarding our staff, and safety/security reminders. If you take 5 extra minutes per meeting – wouldn’t your staff benefit from a sales training tip? I am NOT talking about detailed and upper level selling and revenue management strategies….. I am referring to the value of (for example) recognizing our clients and speaking to them by name, hearing a guest talking about a trip, opportunity, or colleague who needs to book a room and passing the lead to the sales department on site, or having a friend or family member who works for a company that has hotel/meeting needs? Relate the importance of these selling opportunities to their job! Your breakfast attendant is surrounded by most of your hotel guests EVERY DAY. Is that person a listener? Does that person communicate to the sales department about potential companies and any travel needs they might have for our area?

Does an organized, formal, and professional sales meeting agenda demand more effort, take more time to prepare for, and cost more money to pull off?

  • Sure. But does a property motivated, better trained sales person, using professional selling processes properly on calls have a better close-conversion ratio and produce more sales at superior pricing….even if it is just a few percentage points more? You betcha. Don’t just sit around the table and chew the same fat every month!

Many typical sales meetings go like this:

Management tells you how poorly you’re all doing and what must be done NOW to improve things….all to do with more calls/more sales. (I’ll be the first one to admit that I might be guilty of this tactic.)

Do sales people perform better using this type of motivation? Ineffective meetings such as this type, are one-way, top-down stuff. You know the type – everyone shuts up, afraid to say anything or to admit that they can’t do this or have failed at that, or that they need help of any kind. Sadly, in some companies that is as good as it gets. Is this what your sales/team meetings look like?

So, how do we get where we need to be?

Our goal as leaders is to get the sales troops filled with a burning desire to spread the hotel’s mission using best value benefits. The focus of all of our meetings and stand-ups should be less to do with statistical “what was” and “what is” and should be everything to do with real-life triage of “what isn’t working well” and fix it. Leaders should be introducing newer weaponry that will make their mission easier and easier. Wouldn’t that make more sense? Isn’t that closer to the selling process? Wouldn’t it be nice if every associate was involved in lead generation, cost cutting and strategic thinking, AND actually knew WHY it was important to the success of the hotel’s bottom line?

So, the moral or goal of the story is that meetings need to be less about “meeting” and more about “managing of people”. It is all about building team culture and committed involvement in something they feel they own, want to be an integral part of, and where the objectives will benefit them, their careers, their families, their customers, and by default, the hotel.
What about sales meetings with clients? Does the same concepts above, coupled with proper planning have an affect on the outcome of the meeting?

Put yourself in your owner’s shoes. Doesn’t a sense of ownership in the solution precede the sale? You know it does. Whenever you have felt totally, passionately committed to a concept that you own, how have you presented it to someone? By being totally involved and having total buy-in, sharing, and caring. Isn’t a sales meeting an opportunity for the company to sell its mission to its clientele through all its parts…. its representatives?

Starting today, this is what we should shoot for in every sales meeting/stand-up….all of them!

Team Culture.

Study what makes a championship team. Model yourself and your people on the most successful examples available. Success breeds success. Look at how these teams are organized, structured and being led on the field and on the sidelines. Do they follow a success system where each player has a specific responsibility which is ultimately integrated into the whole effort? When you create a sense that being on this sales team actually is a considerable step above the rest, you have created team culture. Team Culture is key to winning at anything.

This might also be the time for everyone at the hotel to re-acquaint themselves with this concept and the need for a written mission statement. Now, I am not specifically speaking about a published brand mission statement (although these generic brand mission statements can be effective and would be a good place to start to model your individual property’s mission statement). I am talking about your hotel’s specific mission statement. Any mission statement needs to include a fervent desire to serve its market constituency beyond the levels of normal customer expectations thereby cementing Team Culture. So, if you don’t have a mission statement, then you need to gather together as a team and write one. Then – it needs to be posted, and every leader needs to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk. Reinforce this mission statement every chance you get… from posters in the break room, to messages on their paycheck!

Teach and Train.

A winning Team Culture is giving your sales force (and operations force) the sense and belief that they are always the best prepped and ready to win. Preparation wins championships.

Take your top value benefits of your hotel and write down why these are important for your customers. These value statements must be positive and believable. They must be easy to say and must be on the tip of every associate’s tongue at all times! In the long run, these value benefit statements will self-coach each other upwards to better performances and results. Role play in your daily stand ups – from sales to housekeeping to front office to maintenance! A Team Culture built on on-growing success should always be your only target.

Inform and Lead.

Establish that your meetings are about Leadership, built around real substance that responds to your sales people’s needs, and answering the same questions your customers are asking of them, your company and your products. In a past training topic article – we explored asking our customers what they like and did not like about the hotel they currently use for their meetings/guest rooms. By asking our customers what they want and need, is like putting a corporate ear to the ground. By listening to our customers and using this information to develop our sales value statements and then using them in your hotel departmental meetings, will better target real issues with relevant best value benefits that sales professionals can accept and pass on to the customer.

Wow, what a concept – two way communication! Just remember that this two-way communication must always be professional to professional. One of the best ways to establish a genuine two-way leadership is to conduct your meetings at a round table setting where no one is at the head of anything, in a private environment without distractions, consistent with the environment you use at customer calls.

Reaffirm that your Team is Battle Ready.

If we are focusing on the concept that we need to approach our in house sales meetings like customer meetings, we must follow the professional selling process as our agenda. That means prospecting through follow-up. Use the entire process as the ultimate example to your troops of what the selling process should look like on a call. To have any chance of success, your meetings must be all about them in exactly the same way as their efforts must reflect the needs, wants and desires of your customers. That means total involvement of each person, where the general is there to provide the expertise…. but more importantly, the strategy, and the ground troops are there to follow the example and storm the ground.

A true leader charges into battle with his people!

The ultimate goal of any meeting should be to inspire only two results.
Give the sales associate a reason to go out and do their job.
Give them the tools they need to go out and do their job.
Happy leading!

Linda

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