Competing Against Yourself: Hospitality Sales Professionals
Lesson #13 from Olympic Gold Medalist Phelps
(Thirteenth in a series)

By David M. Brudney, ISHC, August 2008

“Do you think you’ll have any competition in London in 2012?” asked NBC sportscaster Bob Costas of Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps.  “I never concern myself much with competition,” said Phelps, winner of eight Gold Medals.  “I’m always competing with myself.  My goal is always the same. I’m always working on getting better, on improving.”

While very few of us may even come close to achieving what U.S.A. swimmer Phelps did during the XXIX Summer Olympic Games in China, the message we can take from him resonates within us all: raising the bar on our own performance, our personal expectations, no matter what vocation, what activity, what endeavor, so that we are always improving, always getting better.

Kaizen - - Japanese word meaning
“continuous improvement”

The very best hospitality sales professionals I have known over the past four decades have always competed with themselves first.   They didn’t need monthly or quarterly bonus plans to measure personal performance.  Nor did they need corporate or G.M. oversight.  I suspect that each had a little voice inside that said, “I know I can do better here” or “I should have done better there” or “Hey, I know I’m better than that.”

With Michael Phelps it may be working on getting off the swimmer blocks quicker or maybe on shaving tenths of a second off on his turns.  For hospitality sales pros it could be something as simple as booking more group room nights or more revenue per group room night.  Maybe it’s just more room nights booked over hard-to-sell periods?  How about quicker selling cycles?  Improved contracts, faster turnaround time, reducing cancellations or room block erosions? 

Just a few tips to get you started

Here’s a few suggestions on some areas for you to consider:

  1. Selling cycle
  2. Sweet spot(s)
  3. Self-Monitoring. 
Selling cycle.  The “selling cycle” represents a period of time from when you first engage the prospect/client until there is closure on the piece of business (you book it, you lose it, a decision is deferred or you simply stop pursuing).  The very best sales pros are always looking for those groups they can book in the shortest time period possible.  Historically, corporate meetings are usually booked within a shorter cycle than associations or SMERFs.  And some of the largest, highest yielding association conventions can take more than a year or two.  Knowing the difference between the short and long-term booking cycle is very important and should be factored into every decision a new sales pro makes regarding which accounts to pursue.
The very best are always challenging themselves to shorten the cycle, to do whatever they can to close as much business as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next account, the next solicitation.  It makes good sense to set up your own timetable for your own selling cycle to revisit on a monthly basis to see how you’ve done - - and to learn from that.

Sweet spot(s).  The term, “sweet spot” comes from a sports analogy - - I’ll use baseball and tennis here.  A batter in baseball knows there is a spot on the bat that when contact is made with a pitch either a line drive or a ball driven high over the outfield fence typically follows.  In tennis, there is a special spot in the center of the racquet that when contact is made with the ball, it can result in a difficult-to-return, point-winning shot.  A sweet spot in selling can be the outside personal sales calls you make.  It could be a high-yielding vertical market or even a geographical location.  For whatever reason, my “selling sweet spot” was Chicago.  While representing mostly larger, upscale, group-driven properties on the West Coast, I had a tremendous amount of success making very good sales calls and booking lots of groups - - corporate and association - - out of Chicagoland. 
Where is your sweet spot?  Maybe you are a “morning” person?  Do you find that you have your greatest selling success from making telephone calls first thing in the morning?  Maybe you have found your greatest success from those personal sales calls made outside your office? 

Track your selling activities so you can be aware of what is it you do, where and when, that has provided you with your greatest productivity.  Ask yourself, “Am I getting all I can out of my sweet spot?”  What can you do to get more and what can you learn from your sweet spots that you may be able to transfer over to areas where you are least productive?

Nothing ever stays the same.  You’re either
getting better or getting worse

Self-Monitoring.  This is all about your taking personal ownership for your own performance measurement.  With telephone calls, personal outside sales calls, appointments made, and site inspections, there is a direct correlation with your production numbers end-of-day.  You should begin to monitor those numbers closely and see if by increasing those numbers, your production will improve.

  • Number of telephone calls made per day, per week - - am I making enough calls?
  • Number of telephone calls completed per day, per week - - am I completing enough?
  • Number of appointments made - - what goals have I set, one a day, three a day?
  • Number of site inspections - - one a week?  Six a month?  More?
  • Number of (outside) personal sales calls made - - Five a week?  More?  Less?
  • Number of proposals delivered - - how many tentatives are you converting?
  • Number of referrals received - - and acted upon quickly?
John Marckx, a dear friend and now retired IBM sales professional, tells me that during his long and very successful sales and sales management career IBM used a formula for sales success:
  • Calls
  • Demo (demonstration)
  • Sale
I tell John that during my hospitality sales career, our “formula for production” was this:
  • Telephone call
  • Appointment set (and kept)
  • Site inspection (if necessary)
  • Contract presented
  • Sale 
Closing reminders: 
  1. Selling cycle - - always look for ways to reduce the amount of time required
  2. Sweet spot(s) - - learn from where, when and how you’ve enjoyed your best results
  3. Self-Monitoring - - track all the selling activities you do to determine which ones need to be increased in order for you to experience greater results.  There is a direct correlation between each of those activities - - how often, when and where - - and increased sales 
To access all previous 12 articles in this series please visit www.DavidBrudney.com

© Copyright 2008 

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860 
(c) 760-994-9266

Also See Keeping Positive: New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals / David M. Brudney / July 2008
Mike “Shiny” Dimond: One of the Great Hotel Sales Impresarios / David M. Brudney / June 2008
Avoided Trips: Memorable Tourism Experiences Lost / David M. Brudney / May 2008
Hey, General Managers, There is Hope for This New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals! / April 2008
Never Go to Bat Without a Plan: New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #11 / David Brudney / March 2008
Established Client Relationships Can Last a Lifetime: New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #10 (Tenth in a series) / David Brudney / February 2008
Change v. Experience: Dilemma Facing Presidential Candidates and Hoteliers / David M. Brudney / January 2008
Hotelier's Confession: Second Voyage Confirms There is a Difference in Cruise Experiences / David Brudney / December 2007
Hotel Owners and Operators Expecting Higher Yield from Increases in More Personalized, Direct Selling Expenses / David Brudney / November 2007
Pause for Reaction: New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #9 / David Brudney / October 2007
Today’s Meeting Planner: New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #8 / David M. Brudney / September 2007
Hospitality Leaders Take Note: The Bill Walsh Legacy / David Brudney / August 2007
Hotel Brands Weren’t Always Thinking Outside the Box / David Brudney / July 2007
Did the Cruise Experience but Thanks,  I’ll Take My Luxury Resort Any Day / David Brudney / June 2007
Referrals; New Generation of Hotel Sales Professionals: Lesson #7 / David Brudney / May 2007
Relationship Building - New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #6 / David Brudney / April 2007
Site Inspections New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #5 / David Brudney / March 2007
Mood of Hotel Investors and Operators is Euphoric / David Brudney / February 2007
“Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer” Know Your Hotel Competition: Lesson #4 / David Brudney / January 2007
Hotel Owners Nightmare: Money Left on the Table / David Brudney / December 2006
New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #3: Selling Time Balance / David Brudney / November 2006
New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #2: Want to be Successful? Start by Packing your own 'Chute / David Brudney ISHC / October 2006
Managing the Consultant: Careful Not to Doom the Project / David M. Brudney / September 2006
You Cannot Microwave Experience: New Generation of Hotel Sales Professionals - Lesson 1 / David Brudney / August 2006
New Breed of Hotel Sales Associates Lacking Curiosity? Maybe it’s Not a Generational Thing / David Brudney ISHC / July 2006
Generation X Hotel Sales Associates: All Important Curiosity Factor Missing? / David Brudney / June 2006
Physical Therapy Sessions: A Good Reminder for Professional Selling Fundamentals / David M. Brudney / April 2006
Hotel Marketing Starts Locally; Never Forget Your Neighbors / David M. Brudney / March 2006
Notes from the ALIS Conference / David Brudney / February 2006
General Managers Workshop: Managing Today's Hotel Sales Teams / July 2005
Owners & Asset Managers: Need Expert Advice, Referral? Ask A Trusted Consultant / David M. Brudney, ISHC / May 2005
Larry May: The Passing Of Another Hotel Soldier / David Brudney ISHC / April 2005
Hotel Owners: Better, Worse or About the Same? / David Brudney ISHC / December 2004
Let’s Put Bush and Kerry Through the RFP Process / October 2004
Bev Kordsmeier, Hyatt Sales’ First Lady / April 2004
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What Innkeepers Want Every Christmas? Fill Those Empty Rooms / December 2003
Uncertain Times Call for Return to Backyard Basics / April 2003
Time to “Group Up”?  Maybe, Maybe Not / May 2002
America’s Front Desk  Fights Back! / January 2002
Front Desk Fails To Catch America’s Hospitality Spirit / David Brudney ISHC / November 2001
A Very Good Time For That Sales Audit / David Brudney ISHC / Sept 2001 
More Theater, Less Zombies / David Brudney ISHC / Dec 2000 
It’s The Experience, Stupid! / David Brudney ISHC / Nov 2000 

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