The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode 209 · 2 months ago

Selling in the Hospitality Industry


In this episode, we've got Maryclare Sweeney with us. Maryclare is the Director of Sales at SEVENROOMS, which sells into the hospitality space. As a talented sales manger, she gives some secret strategies for success and how the company had to make changes, like so many, due to COVID.

What You’ll Learn

  1. The growth journey of Maryclare and SEVENROOMS
  2. What was it like to sell during COVID
  3. Maryclare thoughts about selling against competitors
  4. What Maryclare has learned selling to restaurants 

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. About SEVENROOMS and Maryclare Sweeney [3:04]
  2. Maryclare’s thoughts on the biggest fallacies in nutrition [07:44]
  3. Being more influential than you think you are [11:46]
  4. Maryclare’s thoughts about zoom fatigue [17:28]
  5. Paying it forward [22:37]
  6. Sam’s Corner [24:24]

One, two, one three, hey everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the salesacker podcast. How are you? I hope you're doing well. Today on the show we've got Mary Claire Sweene. Mary Claire is the director of sales for seven rooms, which sells into the hospitality space. She is a talented sales leader, sales manager. She started off as an account executive at sale at seven rooms and she talks about the transition that the company needs to make as it went through covid and she also talks about some secret strategies, some tips for how to sell effectively into SMB. So it's a really good conversation. She's a dynamic person and she also says zoom fatigue's bullshit. So if you want to hear why she thinks that, keep listening. First we're going to hear from our sponsors and then we're going to hear our conversation in my interview with Mary Claire Sweene. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is brought to you by outreach. outreaches the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators. Outreach allows you to commit to accurate sales forecasting, replace manual process with real time guidance and unlock actionable customer intelligence that guides you and your team to win. More often, traditional tools don't work in a hybrid sales world. Find out why. outreaches the right solution at Click, dot outreach, dot io forward slash thirty MPC. That is click, dot outreach, dot io forward slash thirty MPC. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is sponsored by pavilion. Pavilion is the key to getting more out of your career. Our private membership connects you with a network of thousands of like minded peers and resources where you can tap into dozens of classes and training. Through pavilion. You University. Make sure you take advantage of the pavilion for teams corporate membership and enroll your entire go to market team in one of our industry leading schools and courses, including marketing school, Sales School, Sales Development School and Revenue Operation School. Unlock your professional potential and your team's professional potential with a pavilion membership. Get started today at join Pavilioncom. Once again, that's joined pavilioncom. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is brought to you by ambition. Every revenue leader feels the pressure to keep sales high and REP attrition low. Take Control with ambitions revenue performance platform, a suite of tools that combine performance intelligence with Sales Gimmification and coaching orchestration to drive accountability and encouragement across your entire Revenue Org. See why top companies like Fedex, ATP and the Atlanta Braves rely on ambition to keep morale high and Rep attrition low. Check them out at ambitioncom. Everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the salesacker podcast. Today in the show I'm excited to have Mary Claire Sweeney. Mary Claire's the director of sales at seven rooms and she's going to be talking to us about all kinds of stories and and experiences over the last fifteen years and start up land, particularly selling during the pandemic when you're trying to sell two restaurants, and hospitality, which we know is a challenge on to itself. So, Mary Claire, welcome to the show. Thank you. I'm happy to be here. We're excited to have you. So I gave a little bit of background in context, but we like to know a little bit more about you as we dig in. So the first thing we want to know about is is seven rooms. That's the company where you work. Fells, what a seven rooms? What do you all do you know? Give us a little bit of the story. Sure, so, seven rooms is a guest experience and retention platform that helps hospitality operators create exceptional experiences that boost their profitability and repeat business. So we're doing that by empowering our RESTCHATT and hotel operators with guest data so that they have a full solution and data set to enable that kind of activity. And tell me about where seven rooms is on its growth journey. Obviously we don't want you to reveal anything confidential, but you know how much money of Your Rais? What's your rr range? How many people work there? Give us a sense for how big the company is. Sure so, we're just about it. Two hundred employees now. I think we were at thirty employees when I started four years ago. Series be we're in between the twenty five and fifty million range in in an are, I guess. Is it subscription revenue? Yes,... And what's your background? So walk us. How did you get here? You've been there, you mentioned, for about four years. But where'd you come from? Where you grow up? How did you get into sales? You know a lot of people come to sales from a non traditional background. There aren't that many, quote unquote, traditional backgrounds because it's hard to get a degree in sale. So how'd you get into the sales world? So it's definitely a non traditional background. I grew up in northern Virginia, right outside of Washington DC. Oh, we're abouts? Are You somelier with loud and county? I am. I'm from Fairfax County. How my Gosh, I'm a Langley Saxon by breeding, I guess. Very nice. Okay, Katomac falls high YEP, so sterling Virginia out there in Loddon County. So wow, we're from a very similar area. That's pretty cool. Lodden County is beautiful. It is. It's very beautiful. It's very beautiful. I try to get back there at least once a quarter to get some fresh air. I'm based in New York and Brooklyn here, so it's nice to have that as an escape and and get some country air in my lungs and get a changing scenery every now and again. Absolutely. Look at them cows and the farms as opposed to the smoke stacks in them in the hooped he's driving down your block at three in the morning. Exactly, exactly. So, yeah, grew up in northern Virginia had a very strong interest in nutrition. So I was studying nutrition thinking that I was going to become a registered Dietitian. When I was in college I took a look at that salary and said I don't know if that's necessarily what I want to be doing long term, and it was more hospital based, and so I with this strong passion for nutrition, I was seeking some other type of education and I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which back then was a very small program they ran one program a year and holistic nutrition, and you would actually travel to New York City over the course of ten different weekends to do like an intensive study program where you were learning all these different approaches to nutrition and holistic lifestyle. And they also teach you a business co oponent so that when you leave you are officially a health coach and you can start taking on clients and advising them on lifestyle and nutrition. So really loved my experience there. But I approached the founder after I graduated and I was really young, wasn't finished with college yet, but it'd finished this program and I said I love what I've learned, but I want to come work for your school. And so three weeks later I was packing my bags. I moved to New York City and I started at an entry level position at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in their admissions department, but it was really sales. I was there for eight years and when I left we were a global program we had moved everything to a virtual study program and we were enrolling what you know, we went from one hundred students a year to about one hundred students a month that we were enrolling into the program and I was actually overseeing the entire sales team. So I was the director of sales and I left integrative nutrition. It was a really incredible experience, but I fell after eight years. I kind of I came, I saw I conquered. It was time to move on to the next phase in my in my career, and I really wanted to get into technology. So I dabbled in a couple of companies. I found seven rooms and, as you can imagine, sales in a holistic nutrition world don't necessarily translate to Sass, consultative technology, sales and hospitality. So I took the position with seven rooms because I saw that there was room for a ton of growth and I started as an individual contributor on a very small sales team at seven room was really really just starting to break ground. From there, became a top seller, was promoted to a management position and then to director of sales, which I that's my current title now with seven rooms. Let me ask you a question about nutrition, if I may, since this is it. What do you think the biggest fallacies are when it comes to nutrition, that they ideas people have that are wrong, and what can we all do to improve ourn agression? I know that's a pretty straightforward question, but you know, let's not let's not dismiss the years of experience you have teaching people this...

...stuff. So what's interesting about nutrition is that a lot of different approaches work right. So there's conflicting science, but typically what remains true is that when you're focused on your diet in one particular way that you will see some kind of improvement. I think that there's not a one size diet fits all, I don't think that it's all based on calories. It's what we focused on a lot. What we learned a lot at integrative nutrition is that that holistic approach is really real. It's not just about the food that you're consuming, it's really about your lifestyle. So we look at it as like a primary and secondary food, and your primary food is actually the areas and your life that feed and sustain you. So your satisfaction with your career, your relationships, your physical activity, spiritual practice, these are all things that show up in your relationship with food. So typically, when one of those areas is out of balance, your diet is too. So that's kind of the over arching theme and how I approach nutrition, that it's not just about calories and fat grahams, it's really about what's going on in the lifestyle that is indicative of your health and your food choices. Well, that's you just dropped a lot of knowledge. Oh that's awesome. Thank you. I'm going to think about that for a little while. So you got to you got to seven rooms from zooming ahead. You got to seven rooms. Tell us about what that experience has been like. And you know, we were talking offline specifically I'm interested in, you know, what it's like to sell. You know what happened during covid right, because there was a lot of companies like zoom that exploded in a good way because they, you know, they had everybody was virtual. And then there's companies that were selling to restaurants, into hospitality, like seven rooms, and I'm sure it was a difficult time and yet you're still there and the company still growing. So what was that experience like? Yeah, so the experience at seven rooms, I'll say when I first started I did come in kind of cocky and I thought to myself ten years of experience and sales, I got this, I'm going to come in and just absolutely crush my goals and I realized very quickly that I had a lot to learn. So it was helpful for me that first year of selling, even though I became a top seller, that it's important to take a step back and reevaluate your skills and realize that you always have things to learn and there's always areas to grow. So that was kind of my first experience there and then when I moved into management, we were doing really well as a company. Were just hitting a turning point of really taking off, hiring a bunch of people, and then covid hit, and I mean, as you can imagine, in the hospitality space it is. It was like everyone's, you know, worst nightmare and we very quickly had to pivot. So we had plans to introduce an online ordering aspect of our platform much later, in two thousand and twenty, and so we had to fast forward that implementation in that release of the product very quickly. So, you know, within three weeks of being sent home, we were launching our online ordering product and doing it all over zoom and completely shifting the way that we were approaching our clients. So we were selling into our current clients, trying to give them an alternate approach and a way to keep their business aflow because everything was so crazy with covid. So that was a really incredible moment in time where the team rallied together, came together to launch this new product and we were extremely successful with it and I believe that our ability to pivot quickly, lead the team and launch this this product as a company is ultimately what got us through the hardest parts of Covid. That's exciting. Did did seven rooms take PPP. I mean, was there other assistants provided to the company, or where you just forced to make sure that you pivoted quickly and executed? Force to make sure that we pivoted quickly and executed fair enough, you know, one of the things that that you've mentioned, and we ask a question in our in our question are we said, what, if some of the biggest lessons learned from your time a startups? And you said you are more influential than you think, which can be a double edge sort. I would love to hear...

...your perspective on this. Tell me. Tell me how influential you thought you were versus how influential you actually were and why that can be a double edged sword. Sure, I think in in the startup universe, especially when when startups are really small it what's really great about it is that you have influence and your voice can be heard and as an operator, as an owner of a company, you want to make sure that the people that you're hiring will rally behind you when things get difficult, because they inevitably well and a startup, and I think that really was highlighted, especially during covid because how demoralizing is it to be at the at this pivoting point with a company, things are going really well. We had a really awesome company culture in the office. People would just stay after hours and hang out with really great group of people. All of that was ripped away from everyone and then we're working at home. A lot of people based in New York, very small apartments. It's a completely different lifestyle shift, and so you're getting accustomed to that. The difficulties with covid people getting sick. I mean there was some really it was very tragic and during that time you have to put your game face on and try to do your job to the best of your ability because it's a make or break moment for for your company. So I think I learned at that point that, as a leader, it was really important for me to show up every day. So it meant getting on slack, being available to my team, making sure that I was open to them if they if they needed to talk, not just about their quota and their pipeline, but about whatever they were struggling with at that particular moment, and I think the the influence that our leadership had on our team. We didn't see any attrition from our sales team during the entire covid period. Did you do layoffs? We did. We did, which was unfortunate. We were able to bring some people back, which was great, after we launched the the online ordering piece, but anyone voluntarily leaving a sales team that was selling into hospitality tech didn't happen. We actually kept our entire team through Covid, which made me realize, you know, I am pretty influential. Our leadership is pretty influential and conversely, if you've got someone who's, you know, negative or not feeling it, that can be very influential on the team as well. So it's important to to keep that top of mind totally. What have you learned from selling two restaurants? I mean, you know from what I know. Obviously I live in New York too, so I know lots of people that sell to restaurants and it's hard to get the owners on the phone. It's hard to get them to change and make decisions. What what have you learned about selling into the SMB space? Oh, that's it's there's a lot. I think what I've learned about working with hospitality owners is that they're moving a hundred miles an hour. A hundred percent of the time and you better make it worth their time to speak with you. So what you're saying better present some serious value to their business, which we which we do, thank goodness, and you better. You better be succinct and clear and follow up with them, because they are way too busy to follow back up with you. And then with hospitality especially, you need to build the Camaraderie and respect of those at the front of the House so it will get to ownership. But you need to have buy in from people that are actually going to be using your tech at the front of the House. Two managers, the GM's, and they will eventually be your path to ownership. So I think a lot of times in sales we go right for the owners right to the corporate piece, and actually with hospitality it's a bit opposite. You need to be building that ground level camaraderie, if you will. That's interesting. What do you think about competitive selling? You know, so lots and lots of people are calling restaurants. Some of them are you know, and I don't know what you would think about Resi or open table, and maybe you'd say they're not really competitors. But there's just a lot of people calling for our restaurant owners time. How do you think about, you know, selling against competitors? Do you make sure that you never say anything bad? You focus on your value?...

Do Do you try to do? Think you know, what's your approach? I think we focus on what makes us fundamentally different from the competitors. So we are a true be to be solution for hospitality owners. So seven rooms, entire tech is built based on the owners feedback. So our hospitality owners have instructed all of the different tools and the platform that we offer based on their feedback. So because we don't have a customer facing market place like an open table or Resi, it is allowed us to really focus on specifically what the operator needs. So we just focus on the value that we bring, in that sense, the the Roi and the profit that we're able to generate for the hospitality owner and then listen if they want to use a marketplace solution or whatever other text act they want to use. We have an open API. We want to build a bridge and not be a blocker to those things. So our approach is fundamentally different than a lot of the competitors out there. Do you have a point of view on, you know, let's say you had a an exact copycat competitor. Do you have a point of view on like? Should you say anything bad about them? Should you never mentioned him? How do you how do you think about that? I don't think that you should be negative about any competitor. I think you just need a double down on the value that you bring and and you know, if the if there is product parody, then you double down on the experience that they have with your staff and your team and the customer support and you lean into that awesome attitude. You've mentioned that you think zoom fatigue is bullshit. That's a particulate that's, you know, it's controversials. Three months ago or four months ago in the economy was roaring and people had massive, you know, job switching opportunities. I think now that we're possibly in the middle of recession, maybe it's maybe you have a little bit more leverage and saying that, but tell me what you think. Yeah, I do think zoom fatigue is bullshit. During the COVID era, one of the things that I got feedback a lot from my team about was the fact that I always had my camera on when we had team meetings and when I would do my one on ones with them or I would lead a team meeting or be part of any kind of staff meeting. As a leader, I want to show up and show the team that I am there to work, even though I'm at my apartment. You can see my couch in the background. I am fully present for you from a leadership perspective and I'm ready to do my job. I'm not with my camera off, multitasking, folding laundry and doing other things. Now, I'm not saying I'm not knocking anyone that needs to do that every once in a while. That's okay. I think from a leadership position, though, claiming zoom fatigue, I think it's BS. I think you need to be on camera on, especially anything client, facing camera on to them that you're that you're ready for them, that you're totally present to what they're saying and you're showing up fully. What do you think about burnout? You know that's another thing that it's related to zoom fatigue in the sense that it's an undiagnosable right like there's no medical diagnosis for burnout. It's a thing that people can say. It's not quite clear what it means, because sometimes it might just mean I don't feel like coming to work today, and that just makes people in saying that since work existed, you know, those Sumerians probably didn't want to plant the fields and you know, some days relative to others. But so what do you think about burnout? Do you think that's equally bs or do you think there's more to it than that? I think burnout's definitely real. You know, seven rooms has done a lot in terms of making sure that people don't burn out. I mean we've got the unlimited PTO piece. We actually had a few articles written about us that. We offer all of our new hires two weeks of PTEO UP FRONT, so they're first their date of hire, they actually have their first two weeks completely off, so they don't actually start with seven rooms. Now, from a sales perspective, a little tough, but that's something that we're offering. I think burnout is definitely real. I think that we need to though, if you are burnt out, take the time off. Just take the time off, but when you're ready to work, be present and ready to work. What do you think about people that don't take time off but are like I I'm driving down to Virginia today to attend a family event. I'm going to be dialing in from the phone. Is that vacation or not? I mean, listen,...

...if you I'm very same. Example, sure, I've dialed in from things. I'll let people know if I'm in the car and I can't necessarily be present, but that's going to be the exception and not the rule. Fair enough. What do you think the keys to be? You know, when you think back, it seems like you have great energy, great spirit. You've had a lot of success and you know, nobody gets trained in sales, at least not in college. There's you know, I went to UVA and they they don't even they won't let you say the word sales in the MAC entire school for Commerce. It's always, you know, alluded to but not said. What are the what do you attribute your success in sales to? I think it's important to get behind the product or the service that you're selling to really believe in it. I could never sell something that I don't think adds value in some way, shape or form to the person that I'm selling it too. I've also always just been someone who wants to share information with other people, whether it's about nutrition or some new cool thing I've tried or a class I've taken, I'm always telling people about it. So to me, sales comes very naturally. It's like a persuasive I want you to try this because it is so great, and it's not. It's not really it's genuine. It's tied to a genuine want for them to have something good. So that's that's kind of where it comes from for me. I like to share that kind of information and I think it's being genuinely curious and interested in the at this case the hospitality owner that I'm talking to. I mean, how cool is it that we get to sell into restaurants? There's nothing more interesting to me than new restaurants that are opening up and all of their concepts and the food and cuisine that goes into it. It's really interesting stuff. So just talking to the operator about what was the thought process behind this and, you know, if you could wave a magic wand and have something work better for you with your reservation and guest management system, what would that look like and is this something that would be a good fit? So it's kind of a natural approach. I went on and on there, but that's that's my good time. Well, you're just you're the guest we want. We want you to go on and on. We don't want me to go on and on. You are the guests. It is your platform, so we appreciate it. I don't Asso everybody, but you live in New York. You sell the restaurants. What restaurant should we go to right now in New York? What are the hot cool things? Card a Mara is a really great restaurant down in the sea port. been around. I believe it's been open for a year, maybe a little over a year. Beautiful, if you like really good stay. I highly recommend its Gorgeous Rushan Awesome car. Name are okay? Is it like an Argentinian place like? What's the what's the VIBE? It cous pier steakhouse. Mary Claire, were almost at the end of our time together. What we like to do, besides ask you for your favorite steakhouse recommendations, is to figure out who influenced you, and that could be mentors, that could be famous people, that could be great books that you've read that really impacted you that you think we should read. When we frame it like that, you know, great content, great influences that that you think other people should know about. WHAT COMES TO MIND? Oh, that's a great question, because there's been so many different influences. I do think that my time spent studying holistic nutrition influenced a lot of different things. It influences the way that I approach problem solving in terms of looking at things holistically, not just, you know, one pain point, but like systematically. What's going on with this? Hmm, I trying to think if there's one particular person that I could name. Give a favorite sales book that you've read. I have a favorite sales book that I've read. I I love the book the alchemist. That might sound a little a little basic, but just more about, you know, finding your your internal voice and following what is true to your talents and true to you. I think that's something I read very early on in my career that really spoke to me. Again, that's more like the holistic approach, but it carries through to my sales career. Yeah, absolutely, and that counts. If folks want to reach out to you, maybe they want to work for seven rooms,...

...maybe they were having questions. That have questions about nutrition. Are you open to that if people are listening. And what's the best way to get in touch? Yeah, sure, thing. I mean, I've got a linkedin profile. You can send me an inbox message. We are hiring at seven rooms. We are openly talking to new talent all the time. So if you're interested in working there, absolutely love to have a conversation. Awesome, very claire. We're going to talk to on Friday for Friday fundamentals, but thanks so much for being our guest on the show this week. Thank you for having me. It's been great to everybody. It's Sam's Corner, Sam Jacobs. Love that conversation with Mary Claire Sweeney. Thought that she had a lot of great insights. I think that the first thing you'll notice is you know everything that she's done. She's just done it with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of ambition and in a lot of passion. She was at in a Greade of nutrition, the Institute for in a grave of nutrition for a long time, for eight years, before moving on to seven rooms, where she's been for four years. So she's a person that has kind of commitment to working up through the ranks at companies and taking on leadership rolls over time. I also I think that, you know, she said Zoom Fatigue is bullshit and I think that that's that's you know, that's a that's a controversial perspective. I know sometimes I'm tired of being on zoom myself, but her point is like, let's not make excuses for not showing up to work and not giving it our best, in our and our and our biggest effort, in our most enthusiasm. She didn't say burnout wasn't real, but she didn't said we should be on camera, we should be present, particularly if we're talking to customers or clients, and I understand that being on camera run is sometimes an issue of equity because people don't all have the same backgrounds in the same apartments. But nevertheless, I do think if you're in sales and you're selling over video conference, I do think you need to show up. You need to make sure you put on your best face. You need to make sure that you have energy and enthusiasm, you don't look come over. If you do have laundry in the background, that's okay, but make sure the clothes are folded and you don't have a bunch of underwear draped over the laundry basket. I'm serious. You know, look up, think about how you present. Think about if somebody wants to buy something from you because of how you're showing up, and if you don't have the care or the discipline or the interest in showing up with your best self, why should they spend their time listening to you and thinking about what you have to say? That's my perspective. I could be wrong, you might disagree with me, but just something to think about. Make sure you know we're heading into a difficult economic period. The leverage that that you have as a candidate is shifting. We're going to talk about it at the pavilion elevate road shows over the course of the next couple weeks. But in February and January, January, February, there are forty seven thousand more sales job openings and there were sales people in the top ten markets in US and Canada. That numbers now negative twelve thousand right. So the leverage has shifted dramatically from the candidate to the employer. There's going to be layoffs. There already have been lots of layoffs and you are going to need to demonstrate that you are indispensable and and there's not going to be government stimulus and government payouts like there were during covid for this particular period. There's not an appetite for it because inflation is already so high. So you can't count on just quitting your job and expecting, you know, unemployment to be triple what it was. So you need to lean in. You need to lean in and you need to step up and make sure that you're bringing your best self, with the most energy, to your work every day, or you will be in a difficult situation. So that's my advice. It doesn't mean you know, burnout, it's not real. Doesn't mean you're not tired of being on video calls. It does mean that some of the excuses that that came from a sense of entitlement are no longer going to be acceptable because you just don't have the leverage that used to have and companies are going to be hiring as aggressively. So sorry for the sermon and if that upsets you, I'm sorry I upset you. You know, sometimes the answer is not to solve for things that don't upset people, though it's okay if you're upset. That doesn't, it's not the end of the world. You're not going to die from being upset. Maybe you should reflect on why you're upset. Just dig in the whole even duper on. I listen. If you're not a part of the sales hacker community yet, you're missing out. Any sales professional conjoint it's and ever ask questions, get immediate...

...answers and share experiences. Jump in and start a discussion with more than seventeenzero sales professionals at sales hackercom. Thanks for listening. If you haven't given us five stars, pleue do so. If you want to email me and tell me what a piece of should I am, you can do that. Sam At joint PAVILIONCOM. And now before we go, let's here for a final word from our sponsors, but I will talk to you next time. Thanks so much for listening to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today's episode was brought to you by outreach. Remember, outreach allows you to commit to accurate sales forecasting or place manual process with real time guidance and unlock actionable customer intelligence guiding you and your team to win more often. Go to click dot outreach dot IO. Forwards thirty MPC. We were also brought to you by pavilion. Pavilion is the key to getting more out of your career. In Roll in sales school, Sales Development School, marketing school and many, many more for yourself or for your entire team. Learn more at join PAVILIONCOM. And finally, ambition, the Revenue Performance Platform, as we have tools combining performance intelligence with sales gamification and coaching orchestration. See why top companies like Fedex, ATP and the Atlanta Braves rely on ambition to keep morale high and wrap attrition low. At ambitioncom. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.

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