Sales Productivity; More is Better. . . Or is it?

Conventional wisdom dictates that in the world of Sales, higher numbers reflect better performance.  To a certain extent, this is irrefutable; the more revenue a salesperson generates, the better the performance of the hotel.  Tough to argue with this logic, correct?  Reality tells us, however, that this is not always the case.

As with so many things, “the devil is in the detail.”  Yes, salespeople exist for the purpose of generating revenue, so the more revenue that they generate, the better for everyone.  However, the ways in which they go about generating this revenue should be held under a very high level of scrutiny in order to ensure ultimate success.

Here’s what I mean; in many hotels and in many hotel sales offices, members of the sales team are assigned performance goals, specifically in the form of revenue targets.  They may also have room night and average rate targets, but in the end, the one that matters is revenue.  To “help” the salespeople to achieve or exceed their goals, they are often also provided with solicitation goals, which typically appear as the following:

  • A specific number of telephone solicitation calls per week
  • A specific number of outside or personal sales calls per week
  • A specific number of “personal client interactions” per week, i.e. entertaining for lunch,    entertaining for cocktails, dinner, etc.

 So far, no controversy, all of this seems very matter-of-fact.  However, the reality of assigning and measuring against quantitative goals such as those outlined above tells us that “more is not necessarily better.”  Imagine a scenario in which Sales Manager ‘A’ finds themselves on Friday morning having completed only 5 of their weekly quota of 15 outside/personal sales calls.  Sales Manager A thus faces a harsh reality; “I am either going to fail to achieve my weekly quota of calls, or I have the remaining hours of today (Friday) to complete my quota.”  Most will choose the latter, and will work frantically for the remaining hours of the day to achieve their quota of 15 outside/personal calls.  There is obviously a downside here, as those hastily-arranged appointments may succeed in getting the salesperson to achieve their quota, but the quality of such appointments would have to be considered suspect at best. 

As you are digesting this, many of you may be shaking your heads, saying “no, it’s not possible that any Sales organization would be so short-sighted as to allow such a structure to exist.”  Unfortunately, just the opposite is true, as the scenario that I’ve outlined above is extremely common in our industry, in fact it likely exists in the majority of hotel sales organizations.

The obvious next question is “what can be done about this?”  As many have stated before, "the first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one.”  Our problem, namely the pre-determination that more sales calls will result in more revenue, is that we are basing our sales strategy on a deeply flawed premise.  More calls don’t automatically equate to more revenue; instead, better calls result in more revenue.  Better calls, in this case, are better targeted, better researched, and better prepared sales conversations that take place with customers that actually have business

Stay with us as we talk more in coming weeks about just exactly how to make your sales organization better, keeping our focus squarely on the concept of “quality vs. quantity.”