After Bill Lennie gave his Top 3 Home Depot Sales Lessons last week, we returned to Columbia Business school where Brian King, the Senior Vice President of Sales at Marriott, gave his Top 3 Marriott Sales Lessons. Brian has been in the hospitality business for over twenty-five years. He has held multiple leadership roles spanning brand management, revenue management, reservations, regional operations, and sales. Before joining Marriott, Brian worked at the Six Flags Corporation and in Allen & O’Hara, LLC’s hospitality management division. He was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement from his alma mater, Cardinal Stritch University, where he earned his BA. Here are his Top 3 Marriott Sales Lessons:
1. Embrace An Omni-Channel Approach. In order for a company to be successful, it must take an omni-channel approach. If a company doesn’t, “that means they have silos in their organization and the customer could have different buying experiences because those silos aren’t connected.” Marriott recognizes how important an omni-channel approach is which is why, regardless of where you shop, “you’ll always see the same pricing.” Without it, “customers will discover breaks in your pricing strategy and you will loose brand credibility along the way.” Brian firmly believes in the importance of an omni-channel approach despite its inherent complexity: Marriott hotels use “real time, highly dynamic” pricing models that change up to 8 times a day. In order to maintain the strength of their brand, those changes in price need to be reflected across all of their channels.
2. Service Is The Defining Factor. “You cannot put a price on service. Service drives sales.” While a consistently high level of service is a must, Brian firmly believes that the most important moments of differentiation come when a brand has a failure. “How you recover from that is more important than the original sale, because that is what will cement the customer for life.” This philosophy is ingrained within the culture of Marriott, Brian explained, as Mr. Marriott at age 86 still attends all of the company’s board meetings (which have been known to last 8 hours) and impresses upon the directors, “Success is never final”; the company can always improve.
3. Listening Is Key. When asked what advice he’d give to sales managers, Brian pointed to Mr. Marriott as a model. “Mr. Marriott is the best listener I’ve ever worked for… He has opinions, but you never hear them until the end. And they’re always wrapped in such wisdom that it’s a show stopper because he listens so deeply and intently.” Brian also noted a fact within Marriott: 57% of management started out as hourly associates. For those eager for growth, Brian believes “the managers who listen the most usually become the most successful ones in the end. Emotional intelligence is absolutely one of the most important things any leader can have.”
Given the incredible success of Marriott as one of the world’s largest companies, Brian’s focus on an integrated sales approach, on service, and on listening should certainly be considered as sales managers and sales representatives alike seek to grow.
If you liked “The Top 3 Marriott Sales Lessons” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog. Special thanks to Robbie Linck for his help with this post.