There is often confusion as to whether a good salesperson is actually selling or whether they are just wandering around the community marketing their hotel and hoping a sales contract drops in their laps. In order to try to specifically define the difference, I called on my old friend Wikipedia to help me with the definition:
Sales: The activity of selling, or the number of goods or services sold in a given time period.
Marketing: The study and management of exchange relationships. Marketing is used to create, keep and satisfy the customer.
Our hotel Sales Managers are primarily responsible for finding customers appropriate to our hotel facilities and converting lookers into bookers. Being able to sort through leads, prospects, and data to find people to talk to about our product takes skill. Learning how to find a customer is more than half the battle.
Sales Managers must understand the steps of sales in order to fulfill their goals. Getting to know your potential customer, walking the fine line between developing a business relationship and “getting in their business”, and being able to listen to what the customer wants before asking for the sale is critical.
Sales Managers in our hotels are responsible for all aspects of booking group business, soliciting and signing Local Negotiated accounts, and working with the brand to court and convince national accounts to book at our hotels. While Sales Managers are not primarily responsible for finding and booking transient guests, it is important that they participate in revenue management strategies and decisions so that they are looking for the right group/volume/LNR business, at the right times, and at the right rates. Having all these tools in their toolboxes will give them the advantage over the competition.
So when do we use Marketing to make sales work? After all, the definition above says marketing is used to create, keep and satisfy the customer! AND, the title of this blog is “Don’t $ell the Steak, $ell the Sizzle” – isn’t that title telling us to focus on “marketing” in the selling process?
A good Sales Manager has a few marketing skills up their sleeve at all times. Developing marketing materials and collateral, creating packages and promotions to support specific sales efforts, and being creative are great skills for every sales manager. Marketing can be learned. Sales must be in your blood! Knowing when to switch lanes between sales and marketing is critical!
I interviewed many of you before you joined the hotel in a sales capacity. Remember the question I asked? Are you a creative type or a nuts-and-bolts type? Your answer gave me insight into you and your ability to distinguish your skill set as it applies to sales versus marketing. A good salesperson is probably a blend of both creativity and productivity!
So, what do you do if you are more Sales or more Marketing? You focus on learning what you need to improve in both categories. Salespeople who want to be more creative: talk to people, brainstorm, reach out to people you know who are creative and learn to think outside-the-box. Creative types: You need to become more grounded and focused on the details and learning the skills needed to convert lookers into bookers. Set up your own personal learning plan. Take courses, read, and work with those who have strengths where you do not.