Hospitality sales pros: administration bogging you down?

administration is a hospitality sales time robber

Administration bogs down far too many hospitality sales people, and as a result they do not spend enough time selling.

In our studios of what makes hotel and other hospitality sales pros great, we find that far too many are so burdened with administration and other non-selling activities that is it any wonder that they are not hitting their numbers.

You know, whenever I present this topic at my in-person training sessions, every head nods when I bring this up. Most salespeople are so bogged down with non-selling activities; you are so burdened with administration you do not spend the majority of your day selling.

So let’s just slow down for a second. I’m a sales guy; I’m looking for the shortest distance between A and B — the sale. I don’t care about C, D, E and F. Let me explain why. If you think about it, there are three things that we can do with our day. First, you can sell. Second, you can service those accounts that you’ve sold. Third, you can take time with administration. Selling, servicing, administration: that’s it. If you’re doing anything else, it doesn’t have anything to do with your job description. Anything else other than selling, servicing and administration and you’re doing somebody else’s job.

Now we’re not above that, especially if you are at a smaller hotels. But the principles here are still the same. If your job says “sales” then you should try to try to maximize your selling, service and administration activities while minimizing the rest to the extent possible.

My definition of hospitality sales is fulfilled only by meeting one of three criteria. One of three criteria must be met to put you in the selling mode. If you are doing anything other than these three things you may think you’re selling, and you could be supporting the sales effort, but in fact you are not selling. Because in order to be selling you must be 1) in the face of, 2) over the phone with or 3) breaking bread with a customer. No other conditions or criteria can be met to put you in the selling mode. Notice, e-mail is not in there.

We did a study to determine how  much of his or her time the typical average sales person in the hospitality industry today spends selling. As it turns out, the PCMA, or Professional Conference Management Association conducted a similar study. For each of us the results were very similar. In fact we came out one percentage point different, which I believe completely validates each study. The question was how much of your day do you actually spend selling, according to the definition we just gave? Remember, that’s 1) in the face of, 2) over the phone with or 3) breaking bread with a customer.

Before I reveal the answer, why don’t you guess?

Get a load of this. If you’re a normal, typical average hospitality salesperson in America today, you’re spending about 14 percent of your day actually selling, according to the definition that I just gave. Now, let’s look at this backwards. What we’re saying is, if you’re a normal, typical, average hospitality salesperson in America today, you’re spending 86 percent of you day doing something other than what you get paid to do. 86 percent of your time is spent doing something other than what is in your job description.

Amazing isn’t it? But don’t scratch your head and wonder where the wheels came off on that one. It makes certainly should make management wonder that if you’re only spending 14 percent of your day doing what we’re paying you for, why don’t you just go to the front desk, open up the cash drawer and help yourself?

We’ve looked at the definition of selling, so let’s check the definition of servicing. Every time you talk to a customer who’s already bought, that’s servicing the client. Now this is not a bad thing, and I’m not making a critical judgment here, I’m just providing definition. I am an enormous proponent of the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of my business comes from 20 percent of my customers. So obviously we have to provide great service, especially to the 20 percent of customers that keep our hotel in operation.

So I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be talking to our existing customers, and in fact it’s a daily event for those of you in catering. Catering people actually have this other scales skill that’s called up selling. In fact group room sales, IBT people, etc. have lots to learn from those in catering. While group sales people for the most part don’t even include up selling in our vocabulary, that’s a way of life for those in catering. Servicing can be a great asset in all its forms.

The third thing that you can do with your day is administration. Quite simply, every time you touch a piece of paper or pound on your keyboard, that’s administration. Same thing for sales meetings. They’re administration too. How many of you attend sales meetings that are held between 9 and 5? How many of you attend sales meetings that are held 2:30 on Thursday? As an aside, why do we have our sales meetings 2:30, Thursday? It’s so we can meet in the same room where the staff meeting just ended and we can drink their leftover soft drinks. But let’s get real. How many of you have ever booked an awesome piece of business while attending a sales meeting? Let me know if you have, because I’ve never heard of it happening in all my years of business.

It’s obvious that the middle of the work day is prime selling time, and we continue to have our meetings between 9 and 5. The solution to that issue is also obvious. But I also have to share with you that I have a lot of compassion for hard working hospitality sales people. We can’t come to work at 7 every morning and stay till 9 every night, but I just want you to consider that every time you touch a piece of paper, or work on a keyboard, or attend a meeting between 9 and 5, it’s a moment of administration that you could have, but didn’t, contact a new previously unsold account. And if we agree that the only time to contact customers is between 9 and 5, we’ve simply got to put off servicing clients and being involved with administration during non-selling hours as much as possible.

Posted 7/23/12





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