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Post-Pandemic Sales Mindset, Strategies, and Challenges

Come along to ROC 2022 and hear from Paul Er, Vice President Sales & Marketing Asia at Millennium Copthorne as he addresses this very topic.

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We have entered a new era of hospitality and travel. As sales professionals and leaders, it is imperative that we shift our mindset and adopt certain strategies that will lead to effective change in our approach to sales. The HSMAI Rising Sales Leader Council recently discussed key themes on embracing this new mindset, as well as how they are managing current challenges presented to them due to the impact of the pandemic.

On Being a Servant Seller

“There was a line [in an article I read] about being a servant seller. It was about really focusing your mindset more on, ‘How can I serve [my customer] during this time of uncertainty and turmoil?’ I thought that approach was impactful.”

“Sometimes [being a servant seller] means providing more honesty, rather than just being a ‘yes man’ or a ‘yes woman’ in terms of wanting to take all the business you can. We have to play this balancing act now of hotels having staffing shortages and some real challenges in delivering what an event might need. It’s important to be honest with your client and know that you might be helping a relationship, even if that means directing them away from a certain property or a route they were looking to go originally. It boils down to building that relationship and serving them.”

On Recommending Leads to a Competitor

“Normally, recommending a competitor doesn’t seem like the smartest move, but I think building trust in relationships is a huge part of what we do. For instance, in my role, we had an upscale hotel that hadn’t really been delivering the kind of service they should’ve been over the last 12 to 18 months. If my biggest client wants to bring a large group there and is asking me questions about whether the hotel can deliver top-notch service, I’m going to be forthright and present other options. That transparency is so important, and it shows you’re not just after getting a quick sale.”

“Not all business is the best business. Of course, I’d rather take the business and run, but there are times where it’s just not a good fit. And it’s also about understanding the client’s needs and their budget. Ideally, you want to recommend or send that lead over to someone within your portfolio, but there are times when that isn’t within the realm of what they’re looking for. This year and for next year, I’ve been focusing more on the quality of the lead versus the quantity.”

“I always want the customer to be my customer for life, and if I took something that was not a match and it was a bad experience, then I would lose a little trust from the customer. It’s always tough because you want the win, but I’d rather take the big win and have them think of me for an event and say, ‘Hey, he’s an honest guy, and he took care of me, and it wasn’t even his property.’”

On Selling in a Virtual Environment

“I work remotely off property, and I have found that Zoom calls and phone calls help with a more personable connection than email. When you’re on property, you can get out and reach those clients in person, but when you’re working from home or you’re not even in the same state, it’s a lot harder.”

“We’re all very busy, and some companies are still having everyone wear a lot of hats. So, you must respect everyone’s time, and phone calls or Zoom can help with that, instead of dragging everything out through email. But depending on the property, sometimes they won’t do anything unless it’s through email, and every now and then you run into a hotel that only uses fax. So everyone is a little bit different, and you just have to be prepared for that.”

“We used to do a lot of face-to-face traveling and sitting at the table having those conversations. One thing we implemented was the concept of virtual visits. We reach out to all our prospects in Dallas, for example, and we’d travel virtually to that specific market to provide them insights and resources specific to them. That has been impactful.”

On Managing a Team During Recovery

“We can’t go back to those old habits. Business volume is increasing, we’re getting busier, and it’s easy to lose sight of the work that we had done to establish strong connections with our teams. The customer is incredibly important, but our employees are much more of a greater asset to our continued success. And if we aren’t taking the time to talk to them, check in, and make sure we’re in sync with them, things could go sideways quickly.”

“We hired new staff over the past two years, but we kind of threw them in the deep end, and now we’re learning that we need to reteach everyone processes. We’re finding a lot of errors because we never taught them the right way — they’ve just been figuring it out for the past two years. Now is the time to get back on the right course.”

“As a leader, you must be willing to invest in others before addressing what you need first. It’s easy to bring your teams back and give them marching orders, but you have to take that time to orient them. By doing that, you invest in longevity for the future.”

“It’s stressful working the desk shifts, cleaning, being required to make your numbers, and trying to find new business — and then managing home life, too. As leaders, these are the things we need to understand and we need to figure out how we come up with solutions and be advocates for our people and competitive with the marketplace, too. That also means having opportunities for them to develop and grow.”

By Maxwell Smith, Worldwide Sales Manager, Sports Market, BWH Hotel Group, HSMAI Rising Sales Leader Council member

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