Hotel Sales Super Star




How Do You Train Your New Sales Managers?

I work at a hotel where we use a certain Greek character named computer program for sales and catering.  When it comes time to hire a new sales or catering manager one of the key qualities that we often look for is experience in this specific system.  It's not particularly hard to find candidates who have used the system before as it is also used by the vast majority of our competitors.
Certainly we don't require experience in this program as we have the capacity to train someone on it, but many times we view experience on that system as a plus for that candidate.  I know most of our competitors view things much the same way.

So here are where things often go wrong.  Hotels hire a new sales manager who comes with vast experience with the same computer program and they just give them a login and let them loose in their database.  What a surprise that months later they discover that they have been doing things the "wrong" way!

You see, no two hotel companies use any computer program exactly the same way.  Thee is no right or wrong way, but rather an "ABC Company" way to use the system and an "XYZ Company" way to use the system.  Meaning that that new Sales Manager is using the system the way they were trained over at another hotel - ie. not per our hotel's standards and procedures.

The perfect example is lost business.  In our system we have two lost business statuses, Cancelled and Turn Down.  My property defines Turn Down as a piece of business that we as a property decide not to bid on or book, and Cancelled as a piece of business that decides not to book with us (regardless of its previous status).  It really doesn't matter whether you agree with that definition or not, it's my hotel's definition.  I know that many other properties use this definition, but many others define it differently.  Irrespective, if a new Sales Manager is hired at my property we have to make sure that we educate them on our definition, otherwise we invariably end up with a mess in our system.  Trust me, I have learned this the hard way!
So what this really boils down to is training.  Just because a new Sales Manager tells you that they know how to use XYZ system that you have at your property doesn't mean that you get to skip that part of their training and let them immediately start booking business.  I know it's tempting to just let them loose, but restraint is needed here!

Another potential pitfall is to rely almost entirely on computer based training.  Computer based training is a great tool for teaching the basics of a new system, but again it doesn't train your sales team YOUR hotel standards and procedures for using the system.

Here is my hotel's approach to training a new Sales Manger on our sales and catering system.

After they have completed all the new hire rigmarole we have them work independently to take the Accounts and Contacts portion of our system's computer based training.  Following that, we have one of our seasoned Sales Managers sit with them and run through our hotel's standards and procedures for Accounts.  They review the database entry standards, expectations for parent/child accounts, inquiry accounts, weddings accounts etc.  Once they are done, the new Sales Manager is given a few Accounts and Contacts to enter into the system as practice.  Leading up to this training we have asked the rest of the team to hold off entering any new accounts and had them put them to one side for the new sales manager to enter (as you can imagine the rest of the sales team love this part!)

The next day the focus is on bookings.  Again we start with that portion of the computer based training, followed by a one-on-one session on SOP's followed by practice entry.  We continue this approach for Activities, BEOs, Reports etc.

Our particular computer based training has a quiz at the end which they then take at the end of the training.  We also have a quiz on our property SOP's.  Once both quizzes are passed we feel comfortable setting this new user free in our database.

The only part that we modify is that if the new hire has considerable experience with the same sales and catering system then we have them take the computer based training quiz at the start and if they pass we skip the computer based training and just train on SOP's.  We still have them go through the motions of entering in the practice accounts, contacts, bookings etc, and they still have to pass our SOP quiz.

I am not suggesting that our way is the best way, I am merely using it to demonstrate one way of training a new Sales or Catering Manager.  Our database is one of our most valuable assets, so I want to guard the integrity of all that data from improperly trained Sales Managers, or Sales Managers trained the "wrong" way ie. the way our competitors do it!