The Sales Gap

Many people in sales are “accidental sales people” and did not grow up saying they wanted a career in sales.

This was the case for me. Growing up, I wanted to be a social worker or in a similar line of work where I could help people. Hospitality and travel was a second choice. After completing a co-op in high school at a crisis shelter, I decided this was something I could do on a volunteer basis but too heart wrenching to choose as a career.

So off to college I went where I pursued a 3-year program in Hospitality and Event Management. I wanted to be a meeting planner (or so I thought); however, the first job I interviewed for out of college was a corporate sales manager with Hilton Hotels.

I couldn’t believe I got the job! I was very excited but thought to myself; “What does that even mean? What does a corporate sales manager even do?”

I became an accidental sales person and 27 years later, I am so grateful that I stumbled into this profession. It has allowed me to grow in incredible ways, work with amazing clients and colleagues and best of all, I get to help people.

So how do we get more people to choose sales as a career by choice and not by accident?

In David Priemer’s book (ex VP of Salesforce) “Sell The Way You Buy”, he sums it up perfectly. “Everyone is in sales and they don’t teach it.”

According to Priemer, there are approximately 4000 colleges in the US and less than 100 offer sales programs or sales courses. And of the 170,000 MBA graduates in the US each year, only a small fraction learn about sales.

No wonder we all end up becoming accidental sales people.

And yet, no business has ever succeeded without a sale. A few years ago, The Globe and Mail did an article on the labor shortage and what keeps CEO’s up at night. Finding sales talent was in the top 5 things keeping CEO’s up at night.

So, what is the solution? It is not a quick or easy fix because in addition to lack of awareness and not being taught in schools, there is also a stigma attached to sales people. As David writes in his book “When was the last time you enjoyed talking with a salesperson?”

The solution is a three-pronged approach: Attract, Recruit and Retain

1) Attract
Teach sales in grade schools, high schools and in colleges and universities. And do not just teach sales process or sales fundamentals, but showcase sales careers in various organizations and have established sales professionals speak at career fairs and classes.

2) Recruit
Polish the unsavory reputation that is attached to the sales profession. Sales associations such as Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) or National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP), HSMAI, AHLA should develop a PR and recruitment campaign demonstrating the benefits and rewards of a career in sales. If the Chartered Professional Accountants can make the accounting profession sexy, this should be a successful campaign.

3) Retain
Create standards and certification for all salespeople to take like many other professions to have industry requirements in place and to weed out the others. Organizations need to have proper onboarding programs and coaching to develop their salespeople so they do not “wing” it and create inconsistent experiences for customers.

I feel lucky that I stumbled across a career in sales over two decades ago and often wonder how many people are missing out on such a rewarding career because they do not know what it entails. Until colleges/universities, along with professional associations and organizations come together to attract, recruit, and retain sales talent, this issue will continue to keep CEO’s up at night.

Some of Our Clients

Proudly Serving Clients throughout US & Canada

"As a management company with 4 smaller hotels in busy transient markets, we have struggled to keep our sales and marketing costs relative to the size of our hotel.  The cost and time invested in attracting, training, and retaining good salespeople with the current job climate can be not only daunting but frustrating with turnover.  With varying demand in the market, a sales manager needs to recognize when to take the business, and when to say no to it.  The right rate, at the right time!

We have solved all these problems through turning this demanding role in 3 of our hotels over to Gillis Sales.

Gillis is a trusted, credible partner who has supplied me with experienced professionals who know the fastest route to the business I need.  This has become our most effective resource, and I 100% recommend the Gillis solution to my colleagues."
Patti Barker -

Vice President of Hospitality, Metropolitan Hospitality Management

We have the pleasure of working with Gillis Sales, and couldn’t be happier with the results. Their expertise in the hospitality industry, combined with their innovative sales strategies, have delivered exceptional revenue growth for our property. I highly recommend Gillis Sales to any hotel looking to boost their sales and increase their bottom line. Their commitment to excellence and personalized approach make them a valuable partner in the competitive world of hotel sales.
Preena Patel -

Preena Patel, Administrative Director,  A-1 Hospitality

"The math is simple: Gillis equals heads-in-beds!

The sales pro's at Gillis have been instrumental in building occupancy at Motel 6 and Studio 6 hotels in Canada over the past several years.  Working collaboratively with owners and managers, Gillis takes the time required to find and convert prospects to guests.  Gillis provides a best-in-class solution for hotels that don't have a dedicated, well-trained sales team."
Irwin M. Prince -

Irwin M. Prince, President & COO, Realstar Hospitality

“We had the good fortune of engaging Gillis after years of managing our sales effort inhouse. They came highly recommended through brand leadership and seasoned sales professionals – and they haven’t disappointed. Despite only a few months into our relationship, they have had an immediate impact on our hotels and key account relationships. The Gillis team has already established themselves as one of our most valued and trusted advisors and partners. They have always displayed the professionalism, passion and accountability demanded by their profession. The Gillis team is well prepared, highly engaged and goal orientated. To this end, they have solidified accounts, delivered new bookings and helped to diversify our business drivers. As a result, they have earned the deep respect and trust of our organization. I would not hesitate to recommend Gillis for any organization that requires the highest levels of sales performance, execution and professionalism.”
Perry Batke -

CHA, General Manager, Denham Hospitality Organization

“Tammy Gillis and her organization have been nothing short of amazing! We have seen an approximate ROI of 10x at our BW PLUS hotel as well as a ROI of 4-5x at our BW hotel. The sales team is so dedicated, passionate and driven to deliver revenue to hotels. I just wish we started sooner with Gillis!”
Hitesh Patel -

President, Colorado Hospitality, Inc.

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Sales is the life blood of your organization.

No business has ever succeeded without sales. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming.

The good news is, we can teach you how to do it OR we can do it for you.

Our services will help you sell more rooms, stand out and succeed in a competitive market, and train your staff to implement sales more effectively.

Interested to learn how this applies to you? Contact us for a complimentary consultation.