By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
At HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum on Nov. 5–6, Cindy Novotny, managing partner at Master Connection Associates and recipient of HSMAI’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales, presented a keynote address on “Sales Imperatives for Today’s World.” Here are four key takeaways:
“If you don’t like helping people, growing people, role playing with people, going out and making sales calls with them,” Novotny said, “then you really shouldn’t be a sales leader.” She also suggested that the reason people are leaving the industry is because of bad leaders, who hire without explaining the realities of the job first. “They’re not leaving the company, they’re leaving people,” she said. “You didn’t hire them right.”
2. BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE
As a sales leader, you have to know not just what customers need but what you can offer them that your competitors can’t. “You have to know your customer,” Novotny said. “You have to know their divisions. You have to know who they compete with, how you can get more referrals from them.” Indeed, Novotny noted, referrals from existing business are some of the best leads she gets and shouldn’t be overlooked or underutilized.
3. CUSTOMER FOCUS
Novotny shared that she constantly hears that hotels make it more difficult than it should be for customers — guests, meeting planners, travel agents — to do business with them. “Just answer the phone, talk to the customer, and then have a team that works on them and get everybody involved,” Novotny said. “Don’t make the customer work for this.”
No matter how big or small your team is, you need to be on the lookout for ways to elevate everyone working for you — because at the end of the day, you have to be able to show the numbers, and the numbers come from the salespeople on your team. “Those who say it can’t be done,” Novotny said, “better get out of the way of those who are doing it.”