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A coaching approach to sales leadership in hospitality

coaching approachThe labour crunch the industry faces spans all segments and types of hotels. The Washington Post reported in February 2023 that two million hospitality and leisure jobs remain open.

It is challenging to recruit qualified professionals, and hotels have to expand their search beyond the hospitality industry.

The need for increased effectiveness through automation and the ‘always-on’ expectation of clients and employers add further mental and physical stressors to sales professionals.

Becoming a good sales team leader today requires more than market or industry knowledge or the ability to close deals. Although these qualities are essential, more is needed to overcome the challenges hospitality faces effectively.

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Beyond outstanding sales and people skills, often the reason for promotion into leadership, future hospitality sales leaders will need coaching skills to build and lead high-performing sales teams, ensure retention and develop untapped, inexperienced potential and talent.

Retaining key talent, efficiently onboarding new, sometimes non-industry talent, and building effective sales teams are all undoubtedly critical priorities for the sales leader.

Learning coaching skills is vital to execute these priorities successfully.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a skill that follows a structured process for conversations and interactions with each individual and the team to develop them, improve performance, foster innovation and build strong relationships.

Coaching is when the leader unlocks the individual’s potential to maximise performance.

Sales professionals deliver better results when they are better trained and coached. When done well, they start growing in confidence, develop greater awareness of their strengths and learn about their blind spots. They begin to experience more success in their work, feel greater fulfilment in their careers, build stronger relationships and stay longer with the organisation. Organisations that use a dynamic sales coaching approach show double-digit improvements in sales performance on both quota attainment (21.3%) and win rates (19%,0) over the study’s average (Miller Heiman, 2019a, p. 36).

The sales leader starts to coach when they stop relying on their own experience and begin working with each team member’s experience and perception to discover a fresh approach, a new perspective – a moment of insight and personal learning.

Good sales coaches can and will take each team member beyond the coach’s limitations of their knowledge.

The success of a good sales coach is not dependent on being ‘an older, more experienced individual passing down their knowledge’ but instead on recognising a team member’s potential rather than solely considering their recent performance.

Ordinary people will do extraordinary things when they have to and when thrown into a crisis. The capacity is there. The crisis is the catalyst. However, a crisis is not the only catalyst to access this potential.

Using a coaching approach can access some of this capacity to create extraordinary results.

Coaching can ensure that individual and team performance is sustainable, not at superhuman levels but at levels far higher than we generally experience.

Future sales leaders who know how to coach can lead teams outside their own experience and background to great success, as it requires coaching expertise rather than in-depth knowledge of each area for which the leader has responsibility. It is one of its great strengths.

Here are some areas where a coaching approach to sales leadership makes a measurable difference:

  • Delivering consistent sales performance for sales managers
  • Shortening the time to proficiency for new hires
  • Developing the untapped potential of sales team members
  • Increasing retention
  • Leading a diverse workforce
  • Successfully leading teams outside the area of expertise of sales leader (Marketing, PR, event teams and others)

Training programs are available that address many of the above areas. These training programs are often well-designed to teach processes, establish standards and set expectations for the team that are essential for running a functioning department.

Nevertheless, the training manuals often end up in the bottom drawer, and more is needed for everyday behaviour and standards to change consistently.

The sales leader bases the coaching on the sales process or the sales methodology of the hotel or the organisation. Having a customised sales process and methodology is essential. The coaching approach has a much better chance of success with a robust and customized sales process or methodology.

Becoming a sales coach is best done by having an experienced coach partner with the sales leader. Some executive coaches specialise in sales coaching and performance/executive coaching specifically. They can develop a coaching approach with the individual that aligns with the desired hotel or company standards and help them improve their performance simultaneously.

Other ways to learn about sales coaching are through specific training programs. However, experience and research have shown that coaching is best learned by working with a coach directly. Coaching still is the fastest and most sustainable way to transform habits and behaviours. That is true for individuals and on an organisational level.

Training programs teach individuals methodology, intellectual constructs and processes. Approaching the daily operations of a sales and marketing department with a coaching mindset will allow the hotel to establish procedures, align behaviour and drive performance continually.

Coaching is listed as one of the essential leadership skills for the present and the future by Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/sponsored/2021/03/leaders-need-professional-coaching-now-more-than-ever

Hotels and hospitality organisations must embrace this into their training and approach to ensure their sales teams stay engaged and effective.

 

 

 

Tags: coaching approach, sales leadership, training

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