The Top 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sales People

By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | May 19, 2010

For hotel staff working on Christmas morning, either behind the front desk or in the housekeeping department, a rooms sales position may look like a pretty cushy job! Sales people don't have to work holidays or weekends and have the freedom to come and go as they please. But, in reality, a sales position is (or should be) challenging. They have the primary responsibility to generate room revenues for the property. Sales is responsible for building occupancy in low demand periods and by increasing average rates in peak times.

But, in order to do this successfully, it is important that a sales person is at the top of his/her game. An effective sales person should be able to produce results despite market conditions and product drawbacks and to develop existing business by taking one meeting and turning it into four.

It is also important to understand that "sales" is a skill, not a personality trait. Expert sales skills can produce business despite product deficiencies, rate structure, or market conditions. Since most owners and operators do not have perfect properties and supply/demand dynamics can change, it is even more critical to ensure that each sales person is highly skilled to generate business and to deal with client objections and problems effectively. A dedication to expert sales skills, thru a formal training program, is the best insurance for market share and profitability.

Although formal sales training is necessary, it is not the entire solution to ensure that each sales person is effective. This article will address some important "habits" that are demonstrated by the most effective sales people, to assist owners and managers in developing a highly effective sales department.

Habit #1: Know your product and know your competition.

Unfortunately, it is far too common that an established sales person has never been to a competitive property. Without that first hand knowledge, it is impossible to sell effectively if a customer is shopping your property as well as your competition. The first step in effective selling is to know your property i.e. its strengths and its weakness and what it offers to its target audience. The next step is to evaluate the competition's strengths and weakness and compare it to your property. A personal inspection and honest assessment will place the sales person in a position of strength in convincing a customer to book your property over the competition.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.