Our monthly Ho‘ohana themes have proven to be so serendipitous: either that or they cause me to be more open-minded in embracing the happenstance in my life that blends into them.
This month it happened again with Bottom-Line Aloha and the Art of the Sale when I had the wonderfully good fortune to meet the gentleman who is the new Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for our Hawaii Convention Center, Mr. Ron Adams.
Ron is but a month into his new position at the Center, however Ron’s name is one that is familiar to many in Hawaii, for he has been a mentor for several who have chosen sales as their career: I just so happened to meet one of them within days of meeting Ron, and this young lady very appreciatively shared how much Ron’s tutelage had meant to her and had shaped her own now-noteworthy career in hotel sales and marketing.
With my own recent thoughts on the Art of the Sale as fertile ground for more exploration, Ron very graciously let me grill him about his chosen profession. And in the true spirit of aloha, he agreed to share his answers with all of you here on Talking Story.
Ron I was so fascinated by our first conversation, for it was apparent to me that sales is something you truly love to do (it is your Ho‘ohana). What is it about sales that is so very appealing to you, and how would you describe "the Art of the Sale?"
Ron: There have been times in my sales career I have not always enjoyed sales. This mostly has to do with the product I had responsibility to sell. I am ‘jazzed’ with selling again now I am with the Hawaii Convention Center. This is a terrific product and the operation is super. We simply need more business.
I know from past experience Hawaii is a terrific business destination. Hawaii has had terrific success in marketing our destination as a top leisure destination. That success has been something which sometimes gets in the way of convincing a meeting planner successful business can also be done here. Our job in marketing and sales is to shift that perception and to find the right prospective customers who will really benefit from holding their meetings in Hawaii and in the Hawaii Convention Center.
Because I know certain meeting planners will benefit from holding their meetings here I feel good when our team can shift perceptions and perform above expectations and make all of this work for the planner, the attendee, and the people of Hawaii.
You had told me that you believed sales was about "creativity and problem-solving." Would you talk about this again for the benefit of our Ho‘ohana Community of readers?
Ron: The sales process is opening someone’s mind to a place, a product, etc. which they had not previously considered as a benefit to them. The sales person must really understand the prospective customer’s needs and believe the product being sold will meet or exceed those needs.
Not every product will universally do this for a prospective customer. The successful sales person will take the time to understand the prospect’s issues and then only if the sales person’s product will truly be a benefit to the prospective customer will the sales person present the product in a way which clearly shows the prospect how the product benefits the prospect and thus solving a problem and creating a customer.
As someone who must both manage and lead other sales managers, what is your strategy in getting to "Bottom-Line Aloha" and optimizing productivity in the sales and marketing effort? What must a leader know to manage other sales people effectively (i.e. practice Alaka‘i)?
Ron: A sales manager and leader must know his sales team exceedingly well. Everyone is motivated by different things or issues. An individual motivation program must be developed for each individual on the team. While these motivation programs must be individually tailored they must be perceived by the team to be equal and fair to all. That being said there will likely be people on sales teams which cannot be motivated to perform. Those people need to be taken out of sales so as not to destroy the motivation of others.
Ron when you have a vacancy for a new sales manager, what are the strengths and personal values you are looking for (so they achieve ‘Imi ola)?
Ron: In the meetings market sales are made face to face with the meeting planner. Experience is one key value. The other is the sales person’s reputation in the industry. Will the sales person be able to get and keep the trust of the meeting planner? This market segment is all about trust the meeting planner has with our sales people to deliver what is promised.
Ron: Again the word trust comes into play. The entire sales team must trust the entire operation to deliver the promises made to the planner. They must also trust each other in the way each sales person deals with customers. One bad apple spoils the barrel. — I guess the reason clichÃ©s become clichÃ©s and stay in our language is that there is something true in the ones that last.
How would you describe the best-possible relationship between a sales person and their customer?
Ron: As close to complete trust as one can have.
You and I have met at a time when you are about to embark on a new journey in your career: how do you envision putting your personal signature on your work as the new Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for the Hawaii Convention Center? What are you hoping to achieve for the people of Hawaii (Kulia i ka nu’u)?
Ron: It is not really about my personal signature. It is about the entire sales team making the business happen for Hawaii and the Convention Center in particular. We have a social obligation to the people of Hawaii to generate business which allows them an opportunity to remain as fully employed as possible which in turn will allow them to raise their families in the best possible manner. It is about our whole team accepting this responsibility and being held accountable for production.
Mahalo nui loa Ron for sharing your thoughts with us. From now on, I for one will always think of sales as creativity in problem solving and building a relationship of trust.
One of the profound impressions Ron left with me, was this sense of civic responsibility he has to our Hawaii communities. He clearly understands that better business translates to better opportunities for our residents whether they are directly connected to the hospitality industry or not.
I’m hard pressed to think of a better way of defining what “Bottom-Line Aloha” can mean for all of us.
Aloha and welcome to your new position Ron. KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u!