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David Brudney & Associates
2938A Luciernaga Street
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone: 760-994-9266

Salespeople: Attracting and Keeping the Good Ones

David Brudney & Associates- Hospitality Marketing Consultants
David M. Brudney, ISHC, a nationally recognized spokesman for hotels and a veteran with four decades of experience, is the principal of David Brudney & Assoc. of Carlsbad, CA

By David M. Brudney, ISHC February, 1984

Here are two of the questions Iím most frequently asked by owners and operators in the hospitality industry.

  • "Where do you find and how to you attract good salespeople?"
  • "How can you keep a good one?"

Most of my clients are owners and operators of small, independent hotels, resort, motels, restaurants, private clubs and catering facilities. They believe that the major hotel chains have a monopoly on all the really good sales people and that they, being small and independent, will never be able to compete for the good ones. 

Exploding the Myth

First, let me explode that "myth"--if, in fact, it still exists. Major hotel chains, in particular, do not control the best sales talent in the industry. A great many talented salespeople pass through the chains leaving the ranks after only a few short years. Some move into operations in hopes of becoming general managers. But far too many leave for these all too familiar reasons:

  • Lack of recognition.
  • Advancement obtained only through multiple but necessary (physical) moves.
  • Lack of proper compensation.

The second "myth" is that any good salesperson can and will do well in our business. I do not believe that to be so. Twenty years of experience in the industry has helped me to realize that the best hotel salespeople -- the ones that last, the most productive and effective -- are the ones who are hospitality oriented first and good sales people second. The really good ones -- at any level -- are the ones that love to serve other people, ones who take great pride in seeing to it that people enjoy their meal, stay and or meeting. That "hospitality" trait has to be first. The skill to sell must come second. 

Better Pay not the Answer

Did you notice that "compensation" was listed third as reason for good salespeople leaving? That was by design. Yes, of course, fair compensation will help you attract and keep good salespeople. But it is more important for you -- the owner and operator -- to create an atmosphere wherein your salespeople believe that you not only appreciate the efforts put forth ( by them), but you also understand those efforts and skills required to produce results. That can only come about through your regular involvement and participation in the sales program. 

Effective sales management is one of the most important tools in our industry today. There must be a close bond, a "partnership," between you and your sales staff. You must spend the time necessary to understand what it takes to produce positive results. If you do, and if you compensate your salespeople fairly, you will, in the long run, have helped yourself and your property immeasurably. 

Good Candidates Are Everywhere

Iím amazed at how many good, hospitality - oriented salespeople are available today. I find them everywhere! Secretaries looking for an opportunity to prove their abilities, teachers disenchanted with their profession, mature housewives and mothers with outstanding volunteer and organizational experiences. Iíve seen bellman, room clerks, waiters and hostesses make significant contributions is hotel sales. 

Look around your own communities. You might find a former hotel salesperson who got out of the business because he or she didnít want to move (at that particular time in their careers). 

You would be amazed, too, at some of the sales skills these people bring to the job. Skills such as prospecting, research, persuasiveness, overcoming objections and closing. 

"Instead of Ďstealingí sales talent from your competitor, do some prospecting on your own."

I recommend that instead of Ďstealingí or Ďpiratingí sales talent away from your nearest competitor, so dome prospecting on your own: in your property, amongst your customers and in you local community. Iíll deal with training and re-training programs for salespeople in future articles. 

Keeping the Good Ones

you canít "keep" good salespeople if they lose interest in their work, run out of challenges, are underpaid, unappreciated, or if your property fails to keep its commitments to service and facilities maintenance for the customers. 

Itís also true that good salespeople will "outgrow" some properties, particularly, the small independents. No amount of recognition, understanding and compensation will keep some of them. But those cases are isolated. Most owners/operators can retain the services of the good ones if they follow these recommendations:

  • Recognize good sales performance regularly.
  • Have a clear understanding with your sales person/staff of specific sales work to be done, when, how and by whom.
  • Become involved in every way possible (i.e., making joint sales calls, producing leads, attending sales meetings, participating in the production of a marketing plan, jointly establishing budgets and goals).
  • Jointly develop a workable "incentive plan" whereby the good salesperson/staff will be rewarded in ways beyond salary ( cash, trips, extra vacation, days off, merchandise, meals, transportation and cleaning and laundry).
  • Reassure your salesperson/staff that you respect their profession and you support them to the fullest -- especially when that respect and support has been earned.
  • Encourage the salesperson to come to you without hesitation whenever business and/or personal problems have developed.
  • Demonstrate a strong and sincere interest in the sales program and the individualís every possible opportunity.

Remember, especially you small, independent owners/operators, you have an advantage in recruiting and retaining the service so good salespeople. Your property isnít moving to another city. Itís going to remain in the local community. That factor alone could mean a great deal to a talented hotel salesperson. 

About David Brudney & Associates

David M. Brudney has become a charter member of Laguna Strategic Advisors and was a founding member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants. Brudney is a veteran sales-and-marketing professional concluding his fifth decade of service to the hospitality industry. Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators about hotel sales and marketing best practices and standards of care, and conducts reviews of sales-and-marketing operations throughout the world. Brudney is a professional speaker, teacher, mentor and sales trainer. Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.

Contact:  David M. Brudney, Principal
David Brudney & Associates
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone:  760-994-9266
Email David Brudney
Web Site:   www.DavidBrudney.com

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