As Hospitality Sales Leaders, we are constantly looking for talent and recruiting high performing hospitality sales professionals to fill Sales vacancies, . Unfortunately, we often find ourselves scrambling when people leave our sales organizations, so territories and revenues are not impacted. We work with our Human Resources departments to source candidates, receiving mountains of resumes, sifting through unqualified candidates looking for the one person with the background, experience and culture profile for our team.
Ideally, we should keep a bank and pipeline of potential candidates, people we would like to bring in from our competition, sales professionals already working in our brand that could transition into our property, or junior people ready for a promotion.
I was speaking with a former colleague recently about junior salespeople we had worked with who had grown into senior salespeople throughout New York. It was exciting to talk about talent who had been groomed from sales coordinators into senior sales roles. In my role as a hospitality recruiter, I have also found sales coordinators for clients willing to take junior candidates and groom into sales roles.
I am concerned about the future of this career progression for several reasons;
- We are lowering our dependency on sales coordinator roles and in some cases, eliminating them. Our sales managers are more electronically independent.
- Our young graduates are not as prepared to take junior, low paying roles and supportive positions (particularly in an expensive city like New York). As a generation, they can feel entitled to a more senior role upon graduation.
- As leaders, we are pressured to find experienced sales people who can immediately bring in revenue and come with a “rolodex”.
- We must go back to promoting Hospitality Sales as a Career not just a Job. I speak to more salespeople than ever seeing their sales manager roles as a means to a career outside our industry, rather than a stepping stone to senior roles.
New Sources of Junior Sales Talent
If our sales departments have fewer coordinators to groom into sales managers, where do we find new talent? We must get out of the mindset that only hotel salespeople make good candidates. Can we create “Junior Sales Manager” roles that manage small accounts and new business development? Always scope out your Front Office and F&B outlets for great talent who can (and want to), transition into sales. Keep on the lookout for great salespeople in retail or tech that you interact with throughout your personal time.
Our Current Graduates are not prepared to take Junior Sales roles
Armed with an expensive degree, graduates expect higher paying management roles. I am not suggesting that you create titles for the sake of it, but if you have the autonomy to institute a position band that has a title and responsibility that gives your junior sales team a sense of responsibility and clear career progression, you are more likely to attract talent you can put into your more senior pipeline.
Experienced Salespeople Need Only Apply
Often I have a client that asks me to find them a Sales candidate with a “rolodex”. Of course I can do that and we will continue to recycle sales managers throughout our competitive set. Our Sales Managers go from selling one property to speaking passionately about the competition. This has been done since the beginning of our business (and our clients continue to shake their heads), but we need to think creatively about where we source new talent.
I had a client just last week, when we were running out of qualified candidates, who suggested I start looking outside of the immediate industry. It gave me the latitude to find candidates with the cultural profile that would fit my client, who can be groomed into the exact sales discipline.
Someone who has a “rolodex” can recycle their clients into your property, but don’t we want salespeople who have ability and energy to find new clients and know how to develop new loyal relationships?
Hospitality Sales is a Career not just a Job
Everyone within your sales organization must see a clear path for their hospitality sales career.
As a leader, you should have regular career discussions, add new responsibilities or, add a new client segment. Give them a new sales manager to mentor or ask them to give a role play tutorial during a sales meeting.
We must keep building a talent base for our Sales Organizations. Scrambling to fill a vacancy is expensive and time consuming. By looking creatively outside traditional sources, we will always be bringing in fresh new talent.
As a Hospitality Recruiter, when I am given the autonomy to look for creative sources of candidates, I know I will be successful. Anyone can call your competition and find candidates handling the same territory or client base you want to have in your vacant position. What will give you a competitive edge is that unique person who will look for new business and develop new clients for your property.