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Resiliency in Sales Is Best Built During Up Market Conditions.
By Doug Kennedy
Tuesday, 13th May 2014

Resiliency: what a terrific word for our industry. just about every 'average' day working in a hotel requires some degree of resiliency;

When you look up the word 'resiliency' in various online dictionaries, the most common definitions center around the ability for a physical object to spring back to its original form, such as a rubber band after it has been stretched or the elastic waistbands on gym shorts. 

My favorite definitions of resiliency are the psychological definitions, focusing on the character trait of having the ability to cope with adversarial conditions and stressful circumstances; to bounce right back to a normal mental state without experiencing long term negative effects. 

As a minister I had years ago used to say, “It’s not what happens to us, but what happens in us, that makes the difference for us...” Resilient leaders seem to know this well, as adversity only makes them grow stronger.   

Although resiliency is essential in all daily hotel operations, it is especially important to have the personal charter trait of resiliency actualized in sales leaders.  As the old saying goes, “Nothing happens in operations until a sale is made.”  

It is during unexpected periods of low demand and during hard times that we most recognize the character trait of resiliency.  Yet construction on the foundation of the character trait of resiliency is best started during good economic times. 

Even without resiliency, it is easy to be successful in hotel sales during good times in an up market.  The phones are always ringing, or these days it would be more appropriate to say the email in-box is always pinging with electronic inquiries.

But when the market shifts and leads are not coming in on pace, resilient leaders know what to do.  It is in their instinct, their DNA. They have disciplined themselves in diligently focusing on excellence at every step in the sales process excellence every day, regardless of market conditions.  They know how to be “hunters” during hard times because they continue to hunt for new business in good times when other hotel sales leaders ease-up and coast by being “gatherers,” to use an analogy from anthropology. 

Resiliency in sales begins with discipline in sales excellence throughout the sales process.

  • Resilient sales leaders have a lead tracking and response process that is in place for all inquiries.  They understand that sometimes the hottest lead is disguised as just another inquiry, lost in general inbox. They know how to sort and prioritize leads, and still follow-up on every lead, even when dates are sold out.
  • Resilient sales leaders report a little early, prepared for their day and looking the part of a well-organized and put together mentor. 
  • Resilient sales leaders know the best time to make a cold call to a new sales suspect is right after you just closed your biggest recent sale.  They are never fully satisfied with the sales goals they have achieved in the past, no matter how much they beat budget, and are only focused on the next month, quarter and year.  
  • Resilient leaders mentor others. They take time to teach others their processes and philosophies
  • These sales leaders know that eternal optimism is a necessary and required ingredient of resiliency.   They understand that it is difficult to prospect for business if you don’t believe people are interested in your product.  When overall demand is down, they know they don’t have to fill all the hotels in the comp-set, only their own.  They look for business in new places.
  • Resilient leaders are also realistic in the best moments that there will be challenges ahead.  They prepare for the proverbial “rainy day” and do not over-react to unexpected periods of low demand or the loss of a single large account.  Instead they have been working for months ahead to replace current business before it moves on for whatever reason.  They know that plants close, operations move, new initiatives end, and construction projects are completed.  Yet they are confident that the systems they have in place will yield new opportunities. 
Right now most hotel salespeople are enjoying above average demand in the face of limited supply; the proverbial “seller’s market.”  If sales leaders only focus on beating the previous year’s revenues, they will never fully actualize their potential for the current year.  They will never realize just how much money they left on the table.  They will also be ill prepared when markets shift. 

Meanwhile, resilient sales leaders are currently busy focusing on excellence at every phase of the sales process with the same degree of discipline they had during the “Great Recession.”  When the next downturn approaches, as it inevitably will, they will already be replacing the business that has yet to be lost. 

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades.

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