By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International
Author and self-described “analytics evangelist” Kelly A. McGuire, Ph.D., typically works with revenue managers, helping them to utilize data to grow their business, but she’ll be exploring a new side of hospitality at HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum in Dallas on Nov. 6 when she presents to a sales audience. HSMAI recently talked with McGuire, principal of McRevenue LLC, to discuss her presentation on “Data and Analytics for Sales Leaders.”
Can you give us a brief overview of your presentation?
Whenever I approach a presentation like this, I like to start by demystifying what’s going on. So, I’ll start by giving some definitions to level the playing field for the audience. For example, I’ll define data science, advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning. Sales leaders need to be experts in selling, and they need just enough information about analytics to ask the right questions and implement the answers. The second component is then understanding how to move your organization toward data-based decision making and what you need to do within your organization and your role to make that happen.
I’ll be using some quotes and examples from my book The Analytic Hospitality Executive, which I wrote to help leaders understand the value of data analytics and how to implement them to move the business forward. This is a topic that is near and dear to me that I spent a lot of years thinking about. I’m looking forward to sharing my perspective. I also put together a fun exercise, with my usual flair, to reinforce key concepts from the talk. I’m looking forward to interacting with the sales leaders in a fun, peer-to-peer way.
What is the number-one thing you want people to take away from your presentation?
I really want people to understand that this whole arena of data analytics is more accessible and easier to get started with than most people think. It’s also not as complicated and fast moving as people think. With all the talk about advances in data and analytics, it’s easy to feel that it’s too complicated or your organization just isn’t ready. I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of value that can be driven from the data and resources you have today.
Why is this so important to you?
I’m really just a data geek at heart. I’ve built my career on helping organizations understand the value that data analytics can bring. You can really transform your business and become more competitive just by leveraging the data in a smarter way. I’ve seen this transformation many times and seen the opportunities it unlocks both for organizations and the people involved, and so I’m really passionate about these initiatives and what they can bring.
How is this different from other presentations you’ve given in the past?
This is fun for me, because I tend to speak mostly to revenue audiences. What I love about salespeople is that it’s a more outgoing and interactive bunch, so I’m hoping to have an opportunity to learn and engage more.
I also think sales leaders have some unique challenges. I’ve always been fascinated with analytics in the sales process. When talking about revenue management, when you use data analytics to calculate price or response rate target, you use that directly for decision making. Sales is all about relationships and negotiations, so you need to provision data in a different way and add more flexibility. You’re not just looking for one answer.
I’ve always been interested in exploring how to provision data-driven guidance to leaders in order to facilitate the relationship-building and complex deals the salespeople are crafting. You want to do this in a way that supports the optimal outcomes but doesn’t get in the way of process. Whether that’s coming up with a range of room rates to negotiate against, or providing date alternatives in real time, salespeople use data differently than their counterparts in marketing and revenue management. In the end it’s about infusing analytics into existing processes, supporting better data-driven decision making, not enforcing cumbersome workflows or dictating rigid rules.