Editor’s Note: The Strategic Advisory Group, a division of ALHI, provides customized management and strategic advising to Member hotels, clients and preferred partners. The overall goal is to assist organizations and individual professionals through targeted training, interaction and programming, aligning with ALHI’s core values to provide value and deeper engagement with the membership. Dr. Lalia Rach, Executive Managing Director, recently conducted a round-table discussion, Perspectives with ALHI Strategic Advisors, with several advisers—Armine Terzyan, Heather Hansen O’Neill, “Speaker Sue” Sue Hershkowitz-Coore and Neil Johnson on a range of topics. Below is an excerpt from the first round-table discussion. Additional excerpts will be posted soon, including video clips. 


Roundtable Faces


Neil Johnson: This is going to Speaker Sue. I remember you when I was with MGM Resorts and you're talking about the e-mail communication. I remember you talking about the difference between people living pre-pandemic and a post-pandemic. What are some of the new tricks, bells and whistles that are out there from when you spoke to us to the people you're advising now?  


“Speaker Sue” Sue Hershkowitz-Coore: There are a bunch of things, and this is going to sound really cheesy, but it's memorable: we need to slow down the outreach to speed up the outcome. That's been a really big change. 


People need to be cared about. They need to feel like you care about them. There's been some new research that if there's no warmth in a communication, you're not going to book the business, but if there are choices, people will go for the one that shows warmth and competence. Yet, when you ask people, they think that competence is what's most important. Competence translates to transaction. It's mainly about the messaging that's most important…less formal, more conversational. So many people are now working from the comfort of their homes and everything around them is familiar. When we send an email that is business transaction, it's almost jarring to people. We need to overcome that. We need to create a sense of, once again, of care, and that comes from the words that we're using. Not nearly as formal as we were prior to a few years back, but more concise. People need information even more quickly, but also the ability to imagine. I want the ability to imagine if I can see the difference, the difference between a fresh egg, for instance, and a freshly cracked egg is a 23% upsell. 


A fresh egg, nobody can picture it. Tell me, anybody, what's a fresh egg? But a freshly cracked egg, we can hear it, can even smell it. It’s not that we're communicating short. Every word needs to forward the movement for the buyer. 


Frictionless…making it easy. If we do just one thing, just one thing differently, we'll sell more if we make next steps easy. 


Lalia: You now see why she is known as the queen of email and communication.  


The group will hold its next Perspectives with ALHI Strategic Advisory Group at 11:30 a.m., Central Daylight Time, June 24. Join using this link: Perspectives with ALHI Strategic Advisory Group

Members and clients can also email questions for the advisers in advance at advisorygroup@alhi.com


Speaker Sue: Neil, do you use the strategies?  


Neil: As I'm listening to you talk, it's kind of organically who I am. I do remember when you were talking, it was about the professionalism in the email, about keeping it precise but now I definitely see the humanity in it. I do think there is an element of the pandemic that we were separated from each other and that we didn't have connection.  Now everything's about that connection. I'm a relational guy at heart, anyway.  


Lalia: What's so interesting is the two of you talking about caring relational and it leads me, Heather, right to you because when I think about what you do and the approach you take. I was writing while you all were talking because I wanted some of what you were saying. You said you incorporate adventure and nature into your experience. I thought that was a lovely turn of the phrase, but I'm not sure I know what it means.  


Heather: I'm happy to elaborate on that, but I'm actually going take a step back for a moment and thank both Sue and Neil for using two words that really are all about what I do: connection and humanity, right? What I do is the evolution of sales. It's the humanity of sales. It’s how can we help people to connect at a deeper level? It's not manipulative. It's not competitive. It's not even consultative. It's collaborative. It’s beyond, right? We begin with the leader within, the salesperson within. I spend a lot of time on how can we look at what the blocks are for the individual, what might be holding them up, the judgments, the assumptions, the fears, the beliefs that keep people from taking actions. We help discover what they are and release them and then we're able to open them to what is possible with new strategies. It's elevating, right? Because it is all about—Sue mentioned this, too—it’s all about change, right? We're not going back. We're going to continue to change and evolve and grow. Everyone, even the best salespeople out there, need new strategies in today's world.  


Armine: Lalia, can I jump in there real quick? Just hearing the conversation between Neil and Sue and what you've shared about bringing the humanity and what Heather also elaborated can also be difficult relating it back to my world. If your processes are broken, if it's taking your salesperson 15 minutes to pull together whatever it is that they need to communicate to your customer, that frustrates them. It is going to come very clearly in that communication. If they had to spend so much time in going through your garbage-in data, garbage-out data; if you haven't done the proper work to make sure that you're giving your team the proper tools and the proper processes to respond and connect with your customers, that frustration can and often does bleed into it. How often are you communicating? Are you tracking how often are you communicating with your customer? Is it enough? Is it too much to go back to…Sue said to slow down the outreach to speed up the outcome. That all ties into how we track our data. How do we put that into our system? Have we done it? My favorite terminology is data hygiene. I know Lalia will come to that later. But if you haven't done the proper work to make sure that you have adequate systems and tools in place, it will impact the other aspects of your business that can impact your teams, humanity, and ability to connect to your customers. 


Editor: Later in the discussion, Lalia offers insight on leadership. 


Lalia: I am going to add a piece of advice and that is leadership is a journey without a destination. I get asked a lot: when will I be a fully formed leader? In essence, they don't put it that way, but that's what they ask. I say, never. You can disagree with me. That doesn't bother me. I always say if you want to disagree, just know why. But for me, someone who's been a leader for decades, work constantly at being better at something, some aspect of my leadership, because periodically, every leader slides back on something. Because you are human, your bias comes out. Periodically, because you've been asked the same question 18 times, you bite somebody, not actually, but figuratively. The point being as a leader, it's always knowing you have to work at getting better, and that's my advice.  


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