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Stay on Target

With decades of working in a corporate environment, I have seen my fair share of strategies. I was devouring KPIs, and whatever was inked into annual sales, marketing or business development reports. Written to tick off another box for shareholders and executives to grasp the context for the months to come.

Weeks of ploughing through statistics, analytics and foreseeable trends resulted in a 100-plus page report outlining the ins and outs of keeping the balance positive. And coming up with ideas in making an impact with thinking-out-of-the-box methods to rake in customers. 

I deliberately write the above as many companies are still suckers for reports exceeding an xx amount of pages. 

Sad but true.

Delivered and signed off, these reports will eat dust after a couple of weeks of proudly adorning one’s desk. The Corporate Bible to which we are seeking the results we have promised to the higher executive powers. While it may be the to-go method before technology took over the work of a calculator, the creative approach to sales, marketing, and business development has grown by leaps and bounds.

The world is changing, the demand for innovation is growing rapidly, and the competition is as fierce like ever before. The demand for “more data is better” peaks like there is no tomorrow. Pivoting from one strategy to the other is the name of the game. And these past years have shown this in full force.

Demands from those pulling the strings have risen by a factor of 10. Balancing the scales in the right direction is no longer process that can be measured into a static sales and marketing report. The things I remember when I was a younger bloke. Times like these ask for quick pivots and long-term strategies – we have the data. 

Let’s use it and make our commercial dreams come true.

And as data and technology is our friend, so we have all the data we may need to get that head start.

Sales and marketing are terms that are no longer defined as I used to know. I never had training in strategically caressing partners by using our products and services exclusively. Convincing them that what I had in store beats everyone. I had little to no data, less online, more in-person meetings and sometimes hard-core wining and dining until the wee hours.

Nowadays, sales trainers and trend watchers are sprouting like there is no tomorrow.

Kneading sales and marketing teams to perform to what the market is asking at this stage, all for the sake of staying abreast. Using whatever is online available to their advantage. Re-educating to understand the processes better and pick and choose the right data stream for the right market.

Terms like Big Data and Analysis Paralysis were unknown to me before we entered the 21st century.

When I chat with my colleagues and some close hospitality partners, these changes and challenges are real. These front-line friends are obtaining the latest skills in interpreting this to get that result for this market at this (room) rate. Sales and marketing plans are dying out – thank, goodness – for more and more travel and hospitality partners. There is a growing awareness that the market may turn upside down with the flick of a switch. 

These pandemic times have heralded a new, and growing, era of clustering roles. From taking up one, stand-alone brand under one’s wing to a multitude of similarly tagged products and services. A new definition of multi-tasking is on the rise.

We give more responsibility to a person to grow and evolve. After all, we have the technology by our side. Something we have invested in to make the employee’s life easier.

All the above seems to connect to do more. It is geared towards getting the info you need to sell and market better through online sources and get more knowledge through training and online courses. I am merely talking about the industry I am most familiar with – travel, tourism, and hospitality. But certainly, with some of these statements I make, these may as well overlap to other branches of the corporate world.

It is all about revamping the company culture. Making decisive steps in redirecting HR and training departments to follow this path in allocating resources within the hierarchy and staying abreast of the latest trends and opportunities.

But in so many ways, a number of companies overlook one important factor – the health factor.

Try to deny that 2020 and 2021 were far beyond what was expected for many companies does not need any further explanation. The drive to pick up where we left off is exponential now that we are moving back into some form of normality. An accumulation of uncertainty for those who aren’t able to sell or market, having to turn around to new opportunities, often extremely limited and competing with a similar service and product with a five-fold number of competitors has taken its toll.

Stress levels are rising. These great people feel their energy levels are out of whack. The mental aspect of health has been put under inhuman pressure is one of the negative results of being (partially) under lockdown. Long-term professionals being cut off from one’s principal sources of income. Recruitment was temporary halted. No business, so why hire more permanent?

Yet, as we have reached the end of the tunnel, the influx of travel demand from outside the country’s borders is exploding. It was to be expected, to be totally honest.

Training remains, yet coaching healthy practices does not fall under the piling pressure of what many of us have undergone is on many levels neglected. Back to business is the credo out there. A catch-up race to bring the financial reports back to black.

What good do one’s sales and marketing plan of any kind do when your team is feeling the strain of pivoting from chasing new (domestic) markets?

Or in trying hard to cover the hibernating overseas market and again have to play catch-up now that an influx of requests is on the table? 

When I talk with colleagues and friends in the industry, the stories about their mental struggles are surfacing en masse. Their struggles are real. So real because they haven’t been able to get the right tools to survive this onslaught mentally and physically. Some even cried. Others were in such a detrimental state that leaving the industry in the search for something else was their only option.

Relationships were destroyed.  Lack of real social contact for months. And binge eating was the only solace to alleviate the hurdles thrown at them. The uncertainty whether these true professionals in their respective fields would be able to keep their job. Bouts of depression and anxiety are on the rise. 

I can go on.

What good will a new sales, marketing, business development strategy or software application do when one’s health is not on par? Or any other job in an industry I called home for 30 years.

Money wasted. Talent wasted. Priorities were not set properly. A higher turnover of staff. Lesser demand for new talent to fill in the ranks. 

Am I sketching a downward spiral here which has already surfaced?

With society changing at such a rapid pace, technology certainly supports the urge to make things easier. At the foundation of it all is still a human factor. Particularly in an industry where the human factor is a crucial factor.

Instead of setting aside a budget for training (acquiring new skills), why not set aside a budget for health and performance coaching? Fuelling habits and creating awareness of turning one’s struggles into opportunities in becoming a better you?

The foundation of whatever sales, marketing and business development entails is fairly grounded.

It is how we interpret this through the demands of modern-day society with the health factor in mind that is downplayed too often.

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts | Winston Churchill

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