For nearly 40 years, Karla Boyles has been involved in selling one thing or another.
She started her career in the fitness industry, then in 2004 moved to hotels, eventually settling into her role as director of sales for the Hampton Inn & Suites Tempe and the adjacent Red Lion Inn.
Except she never settled.
Now, with her being honored as the Hampton Sales Leader of the Year, the Tempe Chamber of Commerce sat down with Boyles to discover her sales secrets and what she values most to make her customer’s visit the best in Tempe.
Karla was nominated to receive the award through her general manager. Out of the approximately 800 Hampton locations, which is a brand under Hilton Hotels, 495 sales directors were nominated to receive the award.
“My G.M. put me in and then Hilton looks at my work, ’cause they can look at everything I do,” Boyles says. “They can look at my mix of business, how much corporate business I brought in, my request for proposal … They look at your turnaround, they look at your national accounts, how many have I been on, how many have I gained, how many have I won. So there’s a lot of different angles they look at.”
So, what does the Sales Leader of the Year have to share? First off, success starts with her staff and the notion that “everyone sells.” Hotels typically employ a younger and less experienced workforce, and Boyles uses that to her advantage because she believes millennials are “climbers and drivers and want to learn more.”
“They’re always asking me, ‘What do you do? Tell me how you do it,’” she says. “So I try to always talk to them about how I got an account, what that account looked like, what that account can be. I give them numbers, I show them our budget so they’re aware of what we have to hit each month. I give them different words to talk to guests, and different ways to talk to our guests to make things seem not so painful for our guests if our rates are really high … A little verbiage like that will let [the customer] go, ‘Oh, I get it.’
“Every day, I walk up to the front desk and I just try to talk to them about a different topic, whatever is on my mind that day. Or I ask them if there’s anything I can help them with, and they always have something. They want to learn. They want to know what I’m doing and they want to know how they can better speak to that guest.”
That transparent relationship with her employees extends to every level of the hotel and, in turn, drives the success of her hotel as a hallmark of customer service. The hotel currently ranks second in the city on TripAdvisor (its sister hotel, the Red Lion Inn, is number four), and numerous reviews left on the site compliment the staff on every aspect of a guest’s stay.
“Because we’re really working on the customer service aspect of things, it really helps if they give superior service, it makes my job so much easier,” Boyles adds. “I don’t have to constantly be out finding new clients because the ones that are here will continue to come back. That’s what we really stress to our front desk staff; if we can service the guests who are coming to perfection, they’ll come back over and over and over again.”
Adding to Boyles’s customer service is her turnaround rate with request for proposals. According to her, the hotel chain standard is to respond within 12-24 hours. Boyles has a 100-percent return rate within four hours.
Additionally, Boyles values the experiences and connections that the Tempe Chamber has given her to pursue leads and connect with business leaders.
“I really think every business professional or sales professional should be involved in a networking group like our coffee connection club,” Boyles says. “It’s so important to have that 30, 40, 50 people in that group you see every other week, and even though those folks may not do business with you directly, they’re out in the community talking about you to other people.”
Boyles states she has been able to book meeting space and other uses for people she has met through the Tempe Chamber.
Tempe Chamber’s Coffee Connection leads groups are networking and leads generation events held for Chamber members. One representative per industry is allowed to be part of each of the leads groups, which facilitates business connections and sales.
Boyles also emphasizes that professional groups are something that younger businesses may overlook in their business strategy.
Most of all, Boyles hopes that maintaining her stature as a Sales Leader of the Year will be instructive in maintaining her best attribute: balance.
“I love doing community stuff, but I have to keep that perfect balance. That’s the key: just staying in balance.”