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Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA

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Featured Article

"What the Heck is Hotel Revenue Management, Anyway?"

 

Is It Time For A Sales Tune-up? 

How Healthy Was Your Last Forecast? 

by Neil L. Salerno, CHME , CHA

When a professional golfer hits a slump in his game, he usually consults another professional to help determine the problem. When someone is unfortunately diagnosed with a serious illness, it’s always sound advice to seek another opinion. The common ingredient in these scenarios is that they both recognize the benefit of seeking “fresh eyes” to view the situation.

Fresh eyes provide a viewpoint, which is not clouded by assumptions or past circumstances. Often, the view from outside the immediate problem or situation tends to be the clearest view of all.

Good sales leaders and sales teams are prone to hit a slump, from time to time. We are, sometimes, victims of our own routines, good and bad. It is certainly comfortable falling into routines. Changing routines is made more difficult because of their sheer comfort. Exploration and thinking-outside-the-box is difficult to achieve when we are immersed in our daily activities. 

It’s May and a great time to schedule a sales tune-up. World events are changing the marketplace at an unprecedented pace. A small tune-up investment now could prevent a costly lack of production later. Find some fresh eyes to review or audit your sales operation. Large companies accomplish this with regional or corporate sales specialists. If this option is not available or has not been effective, consider a consultant or someone from outside your immediate market. 

If you cannot hire someone from the consulting arena, consider a sales & marketing friend or acquaintance, from another hotel, to perform the sales audit. Do one or the other, but get a “fresh” new and honest viewpoint.

Create a list of the information you would like to collect to determine the basic health of your sales effort. Don’t forget to include your electronic sales program on the Internet. Many consultants already have a checklist with step-by-step procedures for conventional and electronic sales reviews.  

Start your tune-up with how people are spending their time. How much time is actually being spent in the pursuit and booking of business? Are your sales people performing daily tasks, which actually take-up time, which would be better-spent soliciting business? Automated sales systems are the best thing to ever happen to sales offices in our industry, but they tend to place formerly administrative support tasks into the hands of the sales person. Can a support person take on some of this burden? If you want higher sales levels, give your sales team more time to sell.

True, we are in the age of minimum payroll levels. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, many hotels scrambled to combine and reassigned many tasks to reduce payroll. Revisit those non-sales tasks, which were assigned to or even taken on by each sales person over the past two years. Reassign any tasks, which do not involve direct contact with potential clients.

Many experts believe that adding just a half hour a day to a sales person’s solicitation effort will dramatically improve production. Improved production makes for a happier and more fulfilled sales team and a better bottom-line. 

Your tune-up should include a thorough review of market segments responsibilities. Is the time, devoted to each market segment, proportionate to the potential business from that segment? Are your sales targets being adjusted to changes in the marketplace? Is your view of the job the same as the person who is actually doing the job? You would be amazed how often there is a major difference.

Are individual sales goals clear, achievable, and well understood by each member of the sales team? Does each member of the team have a clear overall vision of the global goals of the hotel?

Many sales teams contain various levels of experience and training. Do you have a good consistent coaching program in place to provide guidance to each individual on the team, on all levels? Coaching is the ingredient, which makes training more effective because it provides continuous reinforcement of the training principles.

A sales tune-up should become a periodic ritual to maintain a healthy and productive sales effort.  We all learned that a maintenance auto oil change and tune-up every 3,000 miles could save huge repair costs. Preventative maintenance to tune-up your sales effort will prevent breakdowns and produce big rewards.

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