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IN-DEPTH: Put in place an excellent global sales structure and delivering a return on investment is possible. This may sound simple but it can’t be done without appointing a meticulous and skilled executive to lead the team, writes Ritesh Gupta.

The job of the global sales executive is a complicated and complex business. It calls for proficiency and not just at the corporate level; the top sales executive must also have the management ability to deliver optimal results from a team, which may be spread across the globe. Integral to their responsibility is the establishment of an appropriate sales structure, which avoids duplication in accounts. 

Internally, they must work with numerous stakeholders. Within the sales department there must be a strong focus on team development and alignment of incentives for each individual. Other than establishing an efficient reporting structure, a sales executive has to rely on the team to gain key information about source markets, while keeping up to date with the macro-economic environment that can affect a hotel company’s business.

To achieve global sales targets in today’s challenging business environment, the sales exec must have clear tactics to deal with, for example, allocation of accounts and incentives. They must also be able to leverage these on an ongoing basis.

Best foot forward

Wyndham Hotel Group’s vice president, sales innovation, David Mollov has been with the company for nearly four years. He says: “The strength of our function lies in the department’s ability to align our activities with three key focus areas.” These are: generating revenue for hotels, growing market share for those properties and developing relationships between customers and properties.

It all starts with identifying your corporate identity, values and goals, and then evaluating a group’s current market position for an existing portfolio. After this, one has to assess the experience and skills required to meet set goals, tailor the strategy team and find ways to sustain the effort on an ongoing basis.

The sales and distribution strategies need to be aligned but these can vary by market.

Sales structure can be finalised by understanding the segments that drive revenue to a hotel group’s markets. This way a group can connect sales people with B2B customers and conduct activities that grow revenue and increase market share.

“Our national and global customers buy differently, and it is important that we provide our salespeople with the tools and resources needed to build those relationships and effectively sell to the consumers’ needs,” says Mollov, who in his current role is responsible for the strategy and execution of global sales, field sales and revenue management initiatives.

In terms of planning for sales force structure, it is important to connect regional strategy with segment strategy.

“In a global hotel company, you have people who travel inter-regionally and those who travel for different reasons (attending a meeting, individual corporate travel, leisure holiday and so on). You need to deploy resources to maximse revenue with the right mix of customers. When speaking of sales activities, you have to be smart about using available resources to maximise efficiency and generate maximum revenue,” Mollov says. 

Centrally strong  

Recently, when EyeforTravel talked to Rocco Forte Hotels recently about its European sales structure, it said there is a need to have a good balance between on property sales and regional sales.

For Molllov, however, the best way to centralise a sales force is to have a strong leadership team deployed in-region that connects regularly to discuss trends, strategy and opportunities.

“If that team is working collaboratively, then you’ve put your company in the best position to be successful, he says, adding that the challenges to consider are cultural differences, time zones and travel and client investment dollars.

The sales force, he says, must be able to take the initiatives that are proven to accomplish company objectives and apply them elsewhere. It must prioritise based on where the growth is and where the investment dollars are. 

Other things to consider are channels and levels of sales talent; these matter when thinking about how you target the consumer. Leveraging things like hotel operations centres and lower cost resources, where it makes sense, would be ideal. One should also consider whether you are providing the right tools and processes to allow the sales force to focus on selling; lower value sales activities can be handled by less expensive resources, Mollov adds.

Managing accounts  

When it comes to choosing between global account management and national account management, Mollov says it is important to consider the following:

•    What is the level of trust and commitment with the customer?

•    Is that relationship strong?

•    Are you having strategic conversations with the company, which are mutually beneficial to the buyer and seller?

One also has to consider if it is in fact possible to grow market share with that consumer.  Here the key criteria to consider include: size of spend, share of wallet, complexity of transaction process, growth potential and scope of relationship, says Mollov.

A global entity must be clear about the ownership of accounts. There are instances where the local sales team, national sales team and global sales team do end up managing the same account, but this should be avoided. At the same time there should not be any gap between above property and on property sales to ensure that nothing is being missed out upon in terms of opportunities. A sales structure that works well should provide the greatest return on investment to the business.

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