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Stop, Just Stop, Hiring the Wrong Sales People

By Conor Kenny

Author, 'Sales Tales' – true stories of how great sales happen

It's 9:30am and it's a Monday morning. Business is tough, you're concerned. The sales meeting was due to start at 9:15am but 2 out of 3 are late.

Jason arrives in looking the worse for wear, as he puts it later, "a full on weekend"and Caroline is late because there was no hot water. Still, the obligatory kitchen side chat and coffee must consume Mondays first 10 minutes. The frustration builds it's just you and Annabel who appear to care.

The meeting starts and clichés flow. The reports, well written but studiously vague, are really just another one of those mindless 'have-to-do' exercises that get in the way of cheerful fun. It's time to chat about activity and here are just some of the lines that emerged;

On the 7 show arounds last week – "They went really well" "They were really nice" "They loved our hotel" "I liked them"

On activity for this week – "I've got to meet the printers, interview the digital marketing student and review the web stats with the web designer and meet the interior designer about wallpaper for the function room"

On results from the Meetings Showcase – "83 attended and the feedback was really positive"

On reaching targets next month – "I've got a really good feeling about next month"

On new prospects – "I'm just waiting for the new advert to go live"

On lost business – "We were too dear"

On external sales calls – "I've a meeting with the Pharmaceutical Company on Monday week"

On follow up – "I've 2 quotes still out there and I'm waiting for them to get back to me"

On any other business – "Can I have a private chat about my salary and holidays later?"

Of course the real problem here is that you hired Jason and Caroline to sell and they thought differently. Quite quickly, they morph seamlessly from 'sales' into 'marketing' because there's more ambiguity in theory than in hard transparent figures.

You get frustrated and they wonder what your problem is. It's all about expectations and that's just the first chink in the armour.

You see, very few people want to be in sales. They want the benefits they perceive; freedom, a car, long lunches, commission and more. In fact, you might unwittingly have sold those little trinkets when you 'bought' their personality. Then again, wasn't there a reason why they were available in the first place?

Here's a few things you could think about doing before you dive in and recruit;

Track record – check it out with the people who weren't on the reference list.

Ask them to explain the difference between marketing and sales – make sure you know beforehand

Get them to sell you your hotel once a quarter – but know your USP's, ethos and brand values first.

Go with them to a sales call – but don't tell them when.

Have a short sales meeting – every week, not every month.

Mystery buy them – get a trusted friend to tell you how good they were.

Test their follow up – did it summarise the problem?

Ask them to set objectives for the next 2 weeks – in 2 weeks, review, assess and score.

Ask them to define failure – they will set their own standards and you can agree or not.

Interview carefully and slowly – think of how long the opposite end of the process can be.

People who succeed in sales do so out of a great desire to help other people. It's attitude that matters. If you recruit a misfit then don't blame the candidate, blame your process.

Good sales people, especially in the hotel business, are very hard to come by. If you nurture them, train them, develop them and listen to those rare good people, you will immediately stand out from Mr. Average next door.

After all, the first part of selling is simply to get noticed. After that, it's a journey that must follow all the steps. Failure comes when 'being clever' means skipping a step or two. When that happens, you usually fall into the water and might even drown!

Conor Kenny is the Author of 'Sales Tales' - True stories of how great sales happen and the Principal of Ireland & the UK's leading independent hospitality training, learning and development company, Conor Kenny & Associates

©Conor Kenny & Associates


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