Interview with Bianca Bara – Senior Sales Manager, Marriott Hotels and Resorts
Bianca was recognized by Marriott Hotels as one of their top 5% of Sales Achievers in the world. I was curious to discover what talents were behind her success and if it would be possible for someone else to replicate her success.
When it comes to personal development there are two schools of thought. The traditional approach is that we should figure out where we need to improve and spend time working on fixing our ‘weaknesses’. After spending years using this approach, I can tell you that it is draining, makes you miserable and there is no actual end to how many possible weaknesses you have!
The second approach is to figure out what natural talents you have. What things you do consistently well, what do you love doing and what activities do you get totally absorbed in making time fly. Once you figure out your superpowers or your natural talents you then intentionally use them every day. You polish and perfect them. Using your superpowers or natural talents is energizing for you. Because you love using them so much it won’t be long before you reach true mastery and benefit not just yourself but those around you too.
As a Clifton Strengths Coach, I know the easiest way to figure out Bianca’s talents was to have her sit the Clifton Strengths Assessment. Just 30 minutes later we discovered that Bianca’s top 5 natural talents are:
1 - Competition
Having established her natural talents, I wanted to learn exactly how she uses them to become one of Marriott’s award-winning Sales Managers. In this interview, you will see her talents come to life.
Q: Bianca, tell me something about your role as Senior Sales Manager for Marriott?
A: The most important thing for me is to build relationships with both our Guests, colleagues and the Global Sales Organization. I try to always leverage all the channels in order to secure business at our hotels. I always make sure I know the unique selling points of the hotel as well as the strengths and weakness of the competitor hotels.
Q: Which of your talents do you think you are using when you are creating these relationships?
A: It is definitely ‘Individualization’. I love figuring out what is important to different Guests and tailoring to their needs. For example, consultancy business is very different to oil and gas. I always make sure when I make an offer it matches what they need. For instance, consultancy guests typically don’t have time for long meetings as they work non-stop (literally also during meals) therefore I need to be considerate when I meet these Guests keeping my interactions quick and efficient. Culture differences are also something I enjoy figuring out so that I can meet their individual requirements.
Q: Did you know that this ability to tailor your offerings to individuals was actually a talent?
A: I had no idea! I just assumed everyone did this. I guess it’s the job of a Salesperson to do this but for some, it would be natural and effective.
Q: I notice you have the talent ‘Strategic’. How do you use this talent when making decisions?
A: For me this talent is all about seeing a complex problem and quickly figuring out how to best fix it. I was once given a project to manage a spreadsheet. I quickly figured out that the calculations were not working properly and set about fixing it. The more I started digging the more problems I found. Somehow these issues just give me more energy because I can get stuck in and sort it out.
Q: I am interested to know how you use this talent in the hotel to solve problems.
A: Actually this is funny. Because I tend to think very quickly with the ‘Strategic’ talent when I want to get things done, I just want to get them done! I don’t want to listen to long stories. So I guess at times I may seem a little impatient. As great as this talent is I do need to keep this in mind.
Q: Which talent do you think gives you drive and energy?
A: It’s definitely ‘Achiever’. I am very motivated and work a lot. Clients say that it is easy for them to call me because they know I will get stuff done. From my side, I can tell you this is because I have a really organized mailbox and task list. So when they call I get excited that they are giving me another job to do but then once I tick this job off it feels great.
I also think that this talent is something that drives me through the year. Every month I want to achieve more than the month before or more than that same month last year. For this recent competition with Marriott, I knew I was overachieving but I didn’t know it was by this much. I was at double my targets and I didn’t even know!
Q: Now that you know you have this talent of ‘Achiever’ how could you use it more intentionally?
A: Now that I have discovered how much I enjoy working against my own targets I would probably have the goals displayed somewhere obvious on my desk and update them regularly. I think I could also stretch the goals further.
Q: In Sales meeting clients is important – which of your talent do you use to meet people?
A: When I started in Sales in my hotel it wasn’t open yet. But I wanted to make sure everyone knew me. Even if they didn’t need me now they may do at some point. I tend to work more intensely in the mornings and I think this probably comes from my ‘Achiever’ talent so I would use this to meet as many clients as I could by lunchtime. And of course once I was with them my ‘Individualization’ talent would kick in and I would enjoy getting to know them as individuals and what is important to them.
Q: So far you haven’t mentioned your ‘Competition’ talent. How do you think this has helped you?
A: I honestly don’t know! Everyone says I am competitive but in a fun way. I like healthy competition to help motivate the team. Recently we had a competition within our department to see who could sell the most Iftar packages. I was organizing my friends to have a night out. Guess where we went? Of course, to my own hotel because it would help me get points to win! To me, it was an obvious choice. I think competition drives me in the background because I hate losing!
Q: Can you think of one tip of how you use your ‘Activator’ talent in the Sales environment?
A: The most obvious thing I can think of is that we have a standard in the hotel of a certain amount of time we should respond to enquiries. But this talent of ‘Activator’ makes me impatient for action and I literally want to respond immediately. I can drop anything I am doing to respond quickly and then get back to my work. Although it may seem that I keep jumping between jobs I do believe that if you are the first to respond to an enquiry it sets the tone right from the start that they can trust and rely on you. This is my number one priority and probably one of my biggest secrets to success.
Q: You have talked a lot about the Guests and the process. How do you use your talents to help you build relationships within the hotel and your team?
A: I am glad you asked me this question. Since doing the Clifton Strengths Assessment I can see that I have several talents (Achiever, Competition and Activator) that make me very fast-paced and work-focused. I believe that until this point I have built relationships with people through sharing my endless energy and drive. However, I have also had an idea that I could start to use my ‘Individualization’ talent a little more to take the time to get to know my colleagues within the hotel as well as the Guests.
Bianca is a fantastic example of someone that has developed a strength-based mindset and not only has been successful in her role she is genuinely happy and gaining more and more energy each day from using her talents. I could feel in our interview that she loves her job and cares deeply about the guests. I could also sense that now she is aware of her talents she will go on to consciously use them even more to develop herself and the relationships she has with others.
Is it possible for you to copy Bianca’s approach?
No…. Why….? Because you are not Bianca!
Each and every person has their own set of talents. If you were to try and use Bianca’s talent’s you would not be a genuine version of yourself. In fact, you would be miserable because you would be trying to be someone that you are not.
If you are looking to elevate your career, increase your level of engagement and be the very best version of yourself you need to tap into your own unique talents. Once you know your unique set of talents you can aim them intentionally within your role.
If you are interested in taking your career to the next level contact me today at email@example.com