The economy is in a slump, is your sales staff too?

‘No’ is likely one of the most common words heard in hotel sales offices over the past 18 months.  No, we can not hire.  No, we can not spend.  No, we can not book with you.  No, we will not have our incentive this year.  Sales people are getting hit from both clients and internally with a whole lot of negativity.  Additionally, sales teams have seen colleagues laid off and positions eliminated and may be operating under the fear that if they don’t produce, they may be gone too.  All of the negativity surrounding sales today could certainly result in a slump.

This WSJ article talks about professional slumps and how tackling them like an athlete may get you out of one.  This may be particularly important to sales staff as corporate budgets are still reduced and hotels are fighting each other for every group sale and every consumer dollar.  Your property may be losing business in part because of the economy but in part because of a sales slump.

What does a slump look like?  Dr. Steinberg describes it as loss of confidence, over-thinking, dwelling on past failures and working too much.  All are key components of both a professional and athletic slump.   With the current economy, the sales “no” is prevalent.  Contracts go out but don’t come back, leads are drying up, repeat clients have decreased spending or stopped booking altogether, sales numbers are down year over year.  For your sales team, confidence may be at an all time low.  They may be putting in more hours yet sales remain flat or continue to slip.  For the sales person, this can be a downward spiral of failure.  Just like the athlete who replays the missed kick, over and over again.

So, how do you fix it?  Stopping the downward mental spiral is key.  Focusing on the positives is the first place to start. 

  • Look at achievements as opposed to failures: sales made vs. opportunities lost
  • Direct focus to self worth: they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t good at what they do
  • Be conscious of long hours: just because someone is working more does not mean they are more productive
  • Draw from past successes: shifting to what they have achieved vs. the current state of events

As a manager, it may be hard to be positive about slumping sales, but with a little positive spin, you may see your sales team adding more to the bottom line.  Hey, it worked for Jack Nicklaus.

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