Post by Roger Miller, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Hospitality Ventures Management Group;
During my 35 years of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring hotel sales professionals, I’ve had dozens of success stories and, of course, occasional failures. I have been acknowledged for successful hires and deservedly booed for the failures. Like everything in life, the truth is actually somewhere in the middle. The conclusion I have come to is that this process is a little bit science, art, and luck.
Performance Model Profiling (Science)
Performance Model Profiling is an important aspect of any sales associate hire. While most of us consider ourselves to be strong in interviews, very few of us truly are. To rely solely on two to three upper-level management interviews and reference checks prior to hiring is foolish, short-sighted, and dangerously flawed in today’s marketplace.
Skill set testing should always be implemented in order to balance out all other company methods of interviewing and hiring. Measuring skill sets like learning index, verbal skills, verbal reasoning, numeric ability, and numeric reasoning is critical to assessing the ability of performing as a results oriented sales associate. Other skills such as energy level, assertiveness, sociability, manageability, attitude, decisiveness, accountability, independence, and objective judgment should also be a part of this model.
I suggest hiring a company specializing in this field to build your company performance model profile based on your six to eight strongest field and corporate office sales and marketing specialists. It will pay off big dividends in the long run and provide many surprises along the way. There is an old cliché that says “it’s not rocket science.” Well, maybe it should be.
Build It and They Will Come (Science)
Another vital aspect of hiring results oriented sales specialists is to build the blueprint or specific job foundation first. Yes, I’m talking about very detailed job descriptions. If you clearly specify what is expected from each position on a daily-weekly-monthly-annual basis, then there is a good chance you will fit the person to the job vs. the job to the person. There is a big difference in results. With one you will succeed; with the other you will fail. Whenever we buy or take over a hotel at Hospitality Ventures Management Group, this process is usually one of the most promising opportunities going forward (in conjunction with sales staff structuring).
The above header explains three of the most important management style traits I look for in any results oriented sales associate. Anyone can be a boss, dictator, or micro-manager. The rubber meets the road when you set every sales specialist up to succeed from the beginning and then coach-mentor-lead them accordingly on a daily-weekly-monthly basis. Find these three traits during the recruiting/hiring process and you definitely will be hiring results oriented sales specialists.
Orientation – Job Expectations at Interviewing Stage (Art)
Most upper-level management waits until post-hiring to implement a sales associate orientation with explicit job expectations and company culture in full detail. Over the years, I have found this to be a huge mistake. I always spend 30-45 minutes going into full detail regarding company sales, marketing culture and specifics of each job. You may as well call it like it is from the start so there are no surprises at the end. Both employer and employee must enter into any employment feeling strong about each other. I would rather take two to three hours deciding a perfect match vs. three to four months wondering if things will work out, and if not, suffering the negative financial ramifications.
Compensation (Blend of Salary & Incentive Program)
I have never met a results oriented sales specialist that was not driven by a market-bearing salary combined with an attainable, quarterly-based sales incentive program. The reason is simple: results driven sales associates get bored with salaries even if they are high. They always want a chance to earn more based on their results. It’s in their DNA. On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of non-results oriented sales associates that demand high salaries with little emphasis on bonus programs.
Reference Checks (Take With a Grain of Salt)
While reference checks are important, you must take these realizing that each candidate has been picked in order to get the applicant hired (a set-up of sorts). The most valuable time spent with job references will be discussing strengths and shortcomings derived from the applicant’s “performance model profiling” results. I have found more honesty with references when very specific areas are discussed vs. generalizations.
While no one has the perfect formula for hiring results oriented sales specialists, I have found the aforementioned methods to be very effective when implemented with patience, honesty, and thoroughness. To short change this process is a sure way of hiring ineffective and poor performing sales associates which, in turn, is a sure way of dooming your hotel to low revenue growth and loss of RevPAR and RevPAR Index. In short, if you do not pay the price upfront, you will unfortunately pay the price much later. My decision is to pay the price upfront. It truly is a choice as well as an obligation all of us must take pride in.