One of my favourite soapbox speeches is to bemoan the last-in-line status of Sales departments when it comes to being properly equipped with the technology to do the job. In Dickensian terms, the poor Sales Director is Oliver, timidly raising a hand in budget meetings: "Please Sir, may I have some more.... laptops?" But maybe I'm being a little unfair on the organization. All too often these requests are ill-considered, badly presented and not justified in terms of return on investment. Maybe what we really need is for Sales Directors to change up and become more effective Sales Leaders. Let's face it, sales effectiveness is of foundational importance for any corporation but in the driven and constantly fluctuating arena of hotel sales, the only thing less effective than an absent Sales Director is having one that lacks leadership, vision and the basic business nous to convince an often sceptical corporate hierarchy on the value of what they and their team actually produce.
So, if you're responsible for Sales at your hotel or hotel group, evaluate these core principles and their current application to your sales team. If one or more are missing, chances are you need to look closely at your own role. The time invested will be more than repaid in the improved numbers of your team and the improved credibility of your cause.
1) Cast a Vision: It's crucial that the Sales Director has a clear idea of the overall sales goals of the organization, and the specific activities required to achieve them. Without these the team will be blind. The clearer the expectations, the more on target the results. Hold regular meetings with your team and communicate intentionally with staff members who are struggling to grasp the principles or execution of the sales plan.
2) Set Achievable Goals: No one likes feeling defeated before they've begun. Walk the line between motivation and discouragement by creating achievable goals that can be adapted to new situations if called for. On the other hand, make sure that individual sales managers do not jeopardize the organizational goal through poor negotiating. I have seen Corporate agreements signed off at average rates well below the requirements of the business plan with the result that the annual sales target is torpedoed before the new budget year even begins.
3) Provide Motivation: The very nature of sales is competitive. Provide motivation for hard work in the form of bonuses and incentives. Make sure everyone is focused on a common goal to create team unity rather than competition between individuals.
4) Insist on Accountability: A wise man once said "You can't manage what you can't measure". It's all too easy to lose track of your teams' sales target commitments made at the beginning of the season. Make sure you have a system in place to continuously monitor performance, including variance to plan and analytics as to cause.
The more rigour you can apply to the sales process, the more credibility points you will attract when pitching new investment ideas to the bosses. Time to step up!