Twenty years ago, Jill Harrington joined SITE as Executive Director having spent some years before that as an executive and sales leader at Maritz Canada, immersed in the exciting world of incentives. When her work was done at SITE, she launched her sales training and consultancy, bringing her expertise to many different audiences across the world.
While she has worked with a wide range of industries over the past two decades, she kept in touch with incentive travel via highly rated interventions at SITE events, both at a chapter and a global level. It’s fair to say, she’s one of us and that’s why we’re thrilled to announce she’ll be appearing next week with SITE President, Jenn Glynn, CIS, CITP in our inaugural “Armchair Conversations”.
Jenn will be asking Jill about Sales in the Time of Covid and also about her award winning book, Uncommon Sense: Shift your Thinking, Take New Action, Boost Your Sales (2017). Never one to mince her words, Jill says “It’s time to dispense with the common nonsense of dusty old selling imperatives like elevator pitches, unique value propositions, and ‘always be closing.’ If you want to sell more, sell faster, and at higher profits, stop thinking like a seller, and start thinking like a new breed of customers and prospect.” She adds that, “In COVID-dominated 2020 we are all working with a new breed of customer.”
So that’s the end of the USPs and the pithy elevator pitches for me and I’ll never watch Glengarry Glen Ross again, no matter how utterly mesmerising and captivating Alec Baldwin is in that notorious, “Always be Closing” speech. I’ve ordered Jill’s book Uncommon Sense on Amazon and, if you take my advice, you’ll do likewise as well as signing up for Jenn and Jill and their armchair conversation next Friday, 11 September.
In the meantime, and to whet your appetite for what’s lining up to be a great conversation, here’s how Jill answered our initial questions:
Our members want to know how they can promote their destinations, hotels and businesses - do their jobs, make sales calls - at a time when it might be considered inappropriate and "tone deaf" to do so. What would you advise them to do?
There is no short answer to this question, which is why Jenn and I will be talking next week. I will say this: It starts with asking yourself the right questions. “How do I sell my hotel, talk to potential clients about my DMC, or approach a new company about an incentive travel program?” are the wrong questions.
What's your most abiding positive memory from your time as an incentive travel professional?
Without question, it is living through 9/11 when SITE was headquartered in Manhattan. I will never forget that day, or the ensuing impact on the industry, the city of New York and the world. And the positive memory: Seeing industry peers and competitors come together in a spirit of collaboration and support I had not seen before.
20 years ago you were Executive Director at SITE. If you were Executive Director of SITE today, what would be your strategic imperative?
I am going to sound like a broken record but this will be even more important in the new future. Shifting the industry (and I mean across all disciplines, from planner to hotel sales manager) to a higher level of curiosity about, and understanding of, the strategic objectives of incentives in context of the client company’s overarching business strategy. I have reviewed countless industry proposals and sales messages over the years, and they frighten me. Competitors look the same because they are not fully addressing the important “why” behind the event. Coupled with this is the need for corporate planners to recognize that there is immense value (to themselves, to the success of their event, and the growth of their company) when they share strategic objectives with the partners and suppliers that are genuinely interested.