Most of us have worked in a sales department at some point in our career. I certainly have. In fact, a substantial part of my role at BON Hotels requires sales skills. So here’s what I know: one of the first things you learn in a sales environment, usually from a salesman who has come before you, is to keep your foot in the door. Wise words. Valuable words. Sales words.
One of the things I have always been aware of about my own character is that I am extremely tenacious, with tenacious actually being a rather gentle term. To be honest, I’m more akin to the Canadian Mounties, Canada’s legendary federal police who ‘always get their man’. However driven that sounds, it’s not always smart. Being too persistent can drive any deal down the tubes. But remaining polite and tactful in your approach allows you to ‘keep your foot in the door’. And in sales, this is key.
The biggest disappointments we experience in our BON journeys is when deals go amiss, awry, askew, or just plain screech to a halt. I take this as an enormous defeat for myself, so clearly it is something I must work through personally. That skill of keeping my foot in the door is not always as simple as it sounds. I find that on some occasions, I would rather break down the door and, quite frankly, put my foot elsewhere!
I have recently been reminded that it is smart to be attuned to those times when it is best to retract and lurk in the wings. In the very early days of BON Hotels, for example, my team and I were wrapped up (and strung along) in what we thought was a very exciting prospect for a BON Hotel in the Cape Town CBD. After months of dedicated and enthusiastic proposals, blue prints, architectural planning and meeting upon meeting, we were left bitterly disappointed when the deal turned sour and didn’t materialise.
Fast forward 18 months: in comes a phone call from a property developer we met during that time who would like our involvement in building a hotel in the CBD of Cape Town. And to make matters even sweeter, this would be right next door to the hotel on which we had initially set our hearts.
Lessons learned: nurture relationships, mix in a tad of patience, and soon something will come from it. Shine your shoes, get your toe in the door, and keep your foot there if at all possible!