New Approaches in Enhancing Your Hotel Sales
By Todd Ryan Director of Sales & Marketing, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel | November 10, 2013
If you pay attention to the world around you, there are sales lessons to be found everywhere. How many of them are you aware of or pay attention to in order to enhance your own efficacy? Let's start by assessing something that most of us can relate to: practice. How often do you practice your craft? A simple question, but I bet that if you were really honest with yourself, you really do not practice your craft as often as you think. Every day, salespeople wake up, go to work, conduct their work and then return home. They gain experience and valuable, real world on-the-job training. At the end of the day, it's possible these salespeople are not reaching their true capabilities unless they invest a little more in themselves and their skillset. Many salespeople might be successful if you only assess their production to a goal. If this is the only criteria used, you might be doing a disservice to all parties involved. Using a sports example, consider a debate about some of the great quarterbacks to ever play the game. If you measure a football player by only Super Bowl wins and don't take into consideration the statistical rankings of that player, you would have to agree that football players Mark Rypien and Trent Dilfer are better quarterbacks than Dan Marino, or Jim Kelly who happened to play in four of them.
Many sellers spend downtime catching a football game, watching a movie, enjoying a TV show or even playing a round of golf. As sellers partake in these activities, there are lessons that can be learned. Professional athletes practice every day. Celebrities prepare for months for upcoming roles. In fact, I just read an article in a fitness magazine about actor Matt Damon's workout regimen where he worked out for hours a day for the six months leading up to his most recent role in "Elysium." If I often think, that if were paid millions of dollars to work out all day for six months, I bet I'd look like Damon, too! Unless you are talking about Allen Iverson, an American former professional basketball player, athletes and actors practice their roles on a regular basis. Becoming the best, or even just better than you are today, does not happen overnight. During the off-season, professional athletes pay trainers to help them stay in shape and improve for the upcoming season. Similarly, actors practice and rehearse and even train for upcoming roles. Most athletes are not superstars and are always competing for their jobs. The common argument that most people like to fall back on is that these athletes and celebrities get paid to do that. Well guess what, so do you.
Even the best athletes attempt to better themselves. A professional football player does not just show on Sunday to work and then sit around for the rest of the week going through the motions. Professional athletes must practice to perfect their craft. For example, my neighbor is a professional golfer who played on the PGA Tour early in his career. Shortly thereafter, he failed to qualify many years in a row. Determination and practice allowed him to regain his focus and he qualified for the tour last year and again for the upcoming season. It was practice and devotion and concentration that lead to his success. My neighbor's job is not too different from that of a salesperson, except for the fact that my neighbor's annual performance review is available on ESPN. During my neighbor's off-season, he goes to work every day. For hours on end, he practices his swing using the same club over and over and over and over again. He practices endlessly to ensure his technique is solid and that he is prepared for any number of situations that present themselves on the golf course. He practices because that one additional minute might give him the slightest edge which could result in a win and a higher paycheck.
I have always been intrigued by the manner in which many companies train their sellers. I read sales articles outside of my own industry and have several friends that are in sales positions across a spectrum of varying companies and industries. One particular friend came to visit after a rigorous week preparing for her company's product launch. She was practically in tears from the emotional toll the week had taken. Finally, she had a break where she could sit back, enjoy a glass of wine and have a relaxing weekend with friends. She was telling us how they stayed at a hotel that felt more like a junior high field trip than a typical sales meeting since they were under curfew every night after the group's hosted dinner event – alcohol not included. Can you imagine? They were forced to study product specifications nightly to review the following day. They were recorded in order to perfect the pitch and witness first-hand how they reacted to objections. Then came the final test and, by test, I mean test. They had to pass a comprehensive written and oral examination before being able to head out into the field to actually sell. I also later found out that there were occasional pop quizzes to assess retention rate. To keep this in perspective, this was not an onboarding training program, she had been with the company for more than five years and they were still testing their employees.
Every company has its own way to train, teach and educate its associates, but I have never heard of anything like what my friend had endured in our industry. As I navigated--and I use that word on purpose--through my career learning the ins and outs of selling, I attended a few training sessions here and there but learned much of what I know on my own. I asked to go to certain training seminars and classes. I read, and continue to read, articles and books to further my education. If not for that, I would have needed to rely on the one-on-one interactions (some bosses were more frequent than others) and by my own personal observations watching other sellers. I am left to my own devices to develop my own measurement from which to analyze my success. You need to know the fundamentals and what specifically to pay attention to in order to better yourself. Only then can you learn from the outside world.
If you actually pay attention to what you are learning and understand why it is important, you can better understand that power of observing your environment and pick up a few tips along the way that just might improve your selling skills. Consider the following examples: