HSMAI Insight: Selling Your Job by Selling Yourself

By Melissa Kouvelas, Director of Worldwide Sales, Best Western International; Michelle Crosby, CMP, Director of Global Sales, Hosts Global; Amber Fox, System Consultant, NAVIS; Ed Skapinok, Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Revenue, and Reservations, Aqua-Aston Hospitality; Ron Taylor, Vice President of Sales and Development, WCG Hotel; and Christine Wight, Independent Sales Consultant — members of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board.

“The Perception of Hospitality Salespeople Needs to Change … for Good.” In that article for HSMAI Insights, Aqua-Aston Hospitality’s Ed Skapinok — chair of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board — argued that with “the emergence of sophisticated analytical revenue-management tools and the involvement of asset managers and hotel owners who cherish them, hospitality salespeople need to show that they’ve become more sophisticated, too.”

On a recent call, Sales Advisory Board members used Ed’s article as the starting point to discuss how we can do that — moving the perception of our profession from “warm and fuzzy” to strategic and crucial. Here are four takeaways from our conversation:

1. Conduct yourself like a valued professional. Ed’s observations about the damage done by stereotypes of hospitality salespeople “walking door-to-door delivering boxes of donuts to offices” or showing up “together in costumes on a ‘blitz’” resonated with more than one Sales Advisory Board member. “A lot of the perception out there is that what salespeople are doing when they do sales calls,” one member said, “is just dropping by and saying hi and shaking hands and dropping off tchotchkes.” Another added: “It’s being able to know that we are an indispensable part of the hotel’s revenue life, and to approach our job seriously.”

2. Be strategic. Changing that perception means not just showing up on a sales call without doughnuts, but showing up with solutions. “What we could be doing or should be doing,” one Sales Advisory Board member said, “is to walk into appointments and take a more strategic approach by presenting ideas that are unique to a customer’s specific marketplace or their company that your property, brand, or service can overcome. Giving them what they need without them knowing they need it yet.”

According to another member: “It’s arming salespeople with the ability to understand their customers’ business — not so much their needs but their pain points, and how the respective product that is being provided is going to meet that. And that’s more than stopping by just to say hello.” Instead, it’s providing a proposition that not only offers a strategic advantage for customers to book at your venue, but makes them feel good about the decision to work with you and your brand.

3. Be tactical, too. Sales Advisory Board members also shared small, simple steps that hospitality salespeople can take — such as not using the phrase “call-in lead,” because it makes it sound like all you did was answer the phone. Instead, one member suggested, when asked, “Where did you get that lead?,” you should answer, “From our sales efforts.” One member said: “Maybe the phone wouldn’t have rung if we weren’t out doing our job and promoting the hotel with advertising and working with different ways to market our hotel.” Be sure to find out how each caller was referred to the property or brand, then present the origin of the lead. This helps solidify hours of outside sales calls, marketing efforts, and local industry event participation — with the result being business coming into the property.

4. Communicate with leadership. Being seen as a professional starts simply with being seen. To that end, one of our Sales Advisory Board members has the sales team sit in on asset-manager calls as well as owner calls. “We hold them directly responsible for communicating to the ownership groups and asset managers,” the member said. “So every other week, they’re back and reporting on how they’re doing and what the results are.”

Another member has started sharing team successes further up the hierarchy — starting with the director of sales and the general manager, then moving on to the asset manager and the CFO. “I email my CFO about some financial information and I don’t hear from him for four days,” the member said. “But I send an email about a great booking and to show all that the ROI is there on the sales line, and for some reason he found time to right away say, ‘Oh, my god, thanks for showing this. Way to go! We need more of this.’”

Hotel salespeople are business professionals strategically working with customers to offer products and services that fulfill their needs. As leaders, we need to take more time to educate and promote our team’s successes, and the value of what sales relationships bring to the bottom line.

About HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board

HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board leverages insights, emerging trends, and industry innovations to fuel sales for hotels. Members include:

  • CHAIR: Ed Skapinok, Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Revenue, and Reservations, Aqua-Aston Hospitality
  • Jamieson Asselta, Director of Sales, Northeast, IDeaS – A SAS COMPANY
  • C. Becker, Principal, Titan Group of New York LLC
  • Bart Berkey, Director of Global Luxury Sales, Marriott International Luxury Brands
  • Brian Burton, CHSE, CRME, Vice President of Revenue Strategy & Optimization, White Lodging
  • Michelle Crosby, CMP, Director of Global Sales, Hosts Global
  • Katie Davin, CHSE, Associate Professor, Johnson & Wales University-Providence
  • Amber Fox, System Consultant, NAVIS
  • LaDonna Gerhart, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Remington Hotels
  • Lisa Giaimo, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, OTO Development LLC
  • Cory Hagopian, Executive Director, Sales Effectiveness, AccorHotels
  • Kaaren Hamilton, CMP, CMM, Vice President of Global Sales, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
  • SiuYin Ko, Corporate Director of Global Sales, Rosewood Hotel Group
  • Melissa Kouvelas, Director of Worldwide Sales, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
  • Ginny Morrison, CHA, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Spire Hospitality
  • Ronald Taylor, Vice President of Sales and Development, WCG Hotels
  • Jim Vandevender, Chief Marketing Officer, Knowland
  • Christine Wight, Executive Director of Hospitality
  • Tony Yeung, Principal, ZS Associates

Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles