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

“Before working with Gillis Consulting, the sales efforts were left to the responsibility of each hotel general manager. With daily and continuous competing priorities, our general managers were not always able to complete consistent efforts in prospecting for new business. Since introducing with Gillis, we have a consistent, full-time sales efforts! This pressure has been removed from our general managers giving them more time and energy to focus on continuing to run award winning properties and taking care of our team and our guests. The biggest benefit to partnering with Gillis is we do not have to manage our sales personal. In the event of vacations, turnover, as an example, Gillis ensures someone is available to our hotels to continue our sales efforts and cycle with no down time. We also don’t have to manage training, expense accounts, or reporting and software. We have recommended Gillis’ sales solution to three other hotels who since have also successfully joined the program.”
Tyson Ghostkeeper -

Director of Operations, Mouallem Management Group

“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

“When we made the decision to lock arms with the Gillis Sales team, we were a relatively new property in a rural tertiary market. In the midst of an economic downturn, with limited ability to attract a qualified onsite sales manager, we decided to try this sales approach to increase our revenue. Once we found the right staff fit from the Gillis team we were able to experience greater success in sourcing out and securing business for the hotel. Some of the advantages of using Gillis has been the quality of skilled individuals that have been able to support our onsite sales team. I have greater confidence in knowing that sales efforts are happening and being executed in a professional manner and above all have appreciated the learning that has transpired because of this association. I would certainly recommend this program if you have experienced any of the challenges that we have. The management team is committed to ensuring the success of the program and have given our property the best that they have to offer.”
Jacquie Corkery -

Owner/General Manager, Best Western Plus

“When we made the decision to give Gillis a try we were struggling, particularly with getting groups to stay at our hotel. However, since we teamed up with Gillis, we have not experienced any problems. We have been using Gillis for almost two years now and we have seen a huge impact on our business. It has been such a pleasure working with Gillis. I absolutely love our salesperson; we have a great connection. I know I can reach out to him anytime I need to, he knows my goals, where I need to go, what budget I must meet, and he works hard to help me meet them. No matter who we work with on the Gillis team, they are always understanding of what we are looking for and trying to achieve. They really work with our goals. I would absolutely recommend their sales support services. We came into the program willing to give it a try and see if we can get a return on our investment. We were able to get our ROI and then some, resulting in us making the decision to stay in the program. I am not sure how we did it so many years without Gillis.”
Nicki Moser -

General Manager, Best Western Plus

“Before working with Gillis, we were not in a good situation. We were not able to respond to many of the leads that came through RFP, Nexus or hotel direct.  As a result, we lost a lot of business. After we joined Gillis, they took charge of everything. They have helped us understand our market and obtain base business in terms of groups. This really helped us to be #1 in the market, which we will be closing the year as such. The Gillis sales support services are customized and tailored to the needs of hotels. We are a hotel that has a HIGH volume of direct leads, and we tailored the program for a lead only model. This has allowed me to focus my time in other areas, such as operations, yielding rates, better understanding my market, training and coaching my staff, and ensuring that our revenue is in line with our strategies and goals. I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone! It is very cost-effective. If I had to hire a Sales Manager to do the same work that Gillis does, it would have been at a much higher salary. In addition, we are receiving the same level of commitment and service from our Business Development Manager that we would from a Sales Manager.”
Vandana Kumari -

General Manager, Best Western Plus

“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.

Contact Us for a Complimentary Sales Consultation

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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.