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At the recent HSMAI Commercial Strategy Conference, Gissell Moronta, Senior Vice President of Sales for Atrium Hospitality, delivered an impactful presentation on the sales perspective within the broader commercial strategy. Her goal was to provide a leadership viewpoint on sales, emphasizing the importance of integrating the sales function into a cohesive commercial strategy. The presentation highlighted two foundational concepts essential for successful sales partnerships and commercial leadership: the inherent challenges of sales and the balance between analytical and creative skills.

Acknowledging the difficulty of sales, Moronta pointed out that the profession is often perceived as glamorous due to its focus on customer relationships and entertainment. However, salespeople face constant rejection, requiring a higher degree of motivation than most other professions. This candid acknowledgment resonated with the audience, many of whom could relate to the mental resilience needed to succeed in sales. Recognizing and appreciating the hard work and perseverance that salespeople bring to their roles, which is often overlooked, became a focal point.

Balancing Analytical and Creative Skills
The critical balance between analytical and creative skills in sales was another key topic. While the best salespeople possess both skill sets, it is more common for individuals to excel in one area over the other. Commercial leaders should appreciate and leverage these diverse strengths, rather than expecting salespeople to be equally proficient in both areas. This perspective encourages a more inclusive and supportive approach to team dynamics, where the unique contributions of each team member are valued.

Vivid examples illustrated how creative salespeople can develop innovative strategies and build strong client relationships, while analytical salespeople can provide data-driven insights and optimize sales processes. Successful commercial leadership involves recognizing these complementary skills and fostering an environment where both types of expertise can thrive. This approach enhances team performance and drives overall commercial success by ensuring that all aspects of the sales process are effectively managed.

Goal Alignment and Upskilling
Achieving commercial success relies heavily on goal alignment. Measuring individual contributions in silos, such as sales productivity or return on ad spend, undermines the potential for a cohesive commercial strategy. Instead, a unified approach where the entire leadership team is measured by the same key performance indicators (KPIs) ensures that all team members work towards common goals, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and collaboration.

Discussing the concept of a “tribe mentality,” Moronta highlighted the importance of mutual respect and appreciation for all areas of expertise. Building a strong commercial team requires creating an environment where everyone understands that success is a collective effort. This mentality helps prevent finger-pointing and blame when challenges arise, promoting a culture of cooperation and mutual support. Insights into cultivating a culture of trust and respect emphasized the need for commercial leaders to achieve long-term success.

Creating a Learning Environment
Upskilling emerged as another crucial element of successful commercial leadership. Leaders have a responsibility to create a learning environment where team members feel comfortable admitting when they don’t know something. Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and development helps teams stay agile and adapt to changing market conditions. Practical strategies for fostering this environment include incorporating small training sessions into regular meetings and encouraging peer-to-peer learning.

Highlighting the importance of providing resources for professional development, such as the new sales certification program launched by her organization, Moronta emphasized the program’s coverage of topics including revenue management, distribution, and marketing. Leaders should utilize such programs to enhance their teams’ skills and knowledge, ultimately driving better performance and commercial outcomes.

The Qualities of a Great Commercial Leader
Discussing the qualities of an effective commercial leader, Moronta emphasized that strong leadership skills, including inspiring and motivating teams, effective communication, and conflict resolution, are essential for commercial success. Two key traits were highlighted: agile thinking and talent curation. Agile thinkers can quickly analyze data, anticipate opportunities, and pivot strategies when necessary. Talent curators excel at managing human capital, growing their teams’ skills, and fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.

Balancing these qualities allows commercial leaders to leverage both their analytical and creative skills to drive success. Insights underscored the importance of holistic leadership, where the ability to manage and develop people is just as important as technical expertise. By focusing on these traits, commercial leaders can build high-performing teams that are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of the hospitality industry.

Gissell Moronta’s presentation provided a comprehensive overview of the sales perspective in commercial strategy, offering valuable insights for leaders in the hospitality industry. Emphasizing the challenges of sales, the balance between analytical and creative skills, goal alignment, and upskilling provided a clear roadmap for achieving commercial success. The call to action for fostering a tribe mentality and creating a learning environment resonated with attendees, inspiring them to take actionable steps in their own roles. As the conference continued, her insights encouraged participants to embrace new challenges and strive for excellence in their commercial strategies, ultimately driving the success of their organizations.

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