Podcast: Michael Dominguez on Successful Sales Leadership


In this episode of the Leadercast Podcast, Michael Dominguez, president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International, shares what could only be described as a waterfall of leadership wisdom. He pours his knowledge and insights from years of experience leading sales teams in the hospitality industry. 

One such insight is why organizations tend to struggle when it comes to sales—the big reason being, he says, is because many companies promote great sales performers, not servant leaders.

“We tend to promote our best salespeople into leadership roles, but just because you’re good at sales doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great leader,” he explains. “I only know one way to do [leadership] and that’s to be fully engaged: fully engaged with our industry, our customers and our team members.” 

And that’s not all Michael had to share with us. Below are his top eight rules sales leaders should live by. Listen to Michael’s episode in its entirety above or via the links at the bottom of this page.

8 Rules Sales Leaders Should Live By

1. Get people on your calendar. 

Michael tells us, “Any team member can get on my calendar. I don’t need to know what the agenda is. I just need to know that they need my time.” At the end of the day, your greatest asset is your team members, so your time should reflect that. 

2. Don’t be offended if your people leave.

When you develop someone’s skills and they take those skills outside the company, be thrilled for them. Be happy they found a place where they can best utilize their talents. Michael says if you take an interest in developing people, how can you not be happy for them if they think this is the right move for their career? 

3. Good leaders are like chess players. 

A sales leader has to have a strategic mindset. Michael says his team members have thought of him as always playing chess. When he’s setting up a program, making a move or shifting a new direction, it’s with intention and there are likely already three other moves planned down the road. 

4. Be a servant leader. 

A servant leader provides a strategy and guidance that is going to make their team members effective. Good leaders define where the guardrails are, and team members feel comfortable coming to them when they hit those guardrails. 

It’s the opposite of being a micromanager, explains Michael. Good leaders define the direction and strategy, and make sure everyone has the tools, knowledge and experience to do the job. Then they get out of the way and let them do their work.

5. Get personal in the hiring process.

When you’re interviewing a salesperson, stop asking questions that come with canned responses. Get personal and have a conversation like two humans, says Michael. Ask questions like: Tell me who you are. What drives you? 

When you get into a comfortable, casual conversation, you’ll start to really understand who the person is. This is so important because a good leader can teach a salesperson the skills to do a job well, but they can’t teach someone to be likable. Look for emotional intelligence and for people who have the ability to connect with others.

6. The ship should move without you. 

If you’re a good leader, the operation should be able to run when you’re not there, shares Michael. It should run effectively and smoothly once you’ve built it. That doesn’t mean it should run smoothly forever if you’re gone, but if you’re gone for a short period of time, it should feel like you’re still there. 

7. Clarify your expectations.

Michael likes to catch up on email on the weekends. While that’s his preferred working style, he makes it very clear that he doesn’t expect anyone to respond to his emails on a Saturday afternoon. He communicates and makes it clear why working on weekends is part of his flow, but that it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s. This is especially important when you’re coming into a new role/company as Michael did. 

8. Implement change with intention. 

When it’s time to make changes in your organization, start by communicating to your team how you see leadership and how you see the role of the company and where the team is headed. This allows any changes that are coming to have some context. 

We tend to make changes without a lot of context or without an open forum where people can have dialogue and diversity of thought. You can’t make a change and expect everyone to just get on board. Give them time and be patient, says Michael. Be confident in your decision and be able to clearly tell your team why the change is happening. If you can’t communicate why then you might want to rethink the decision in general. 

To go along with this month’s theme of success and failure, before Michael left us in this episode, we ask him how a sales leader can get more comfortable with failure. His response:

“Failure is part of the process. Good leaders today are authentic because people follow people who are real, not people who are perfect. You have to be able to acknowledge where you’ve fallen and what you’ve missed. Create a culture where people learn from your failure. It takes humility, and you can’t be a servant leader without being humble.” 

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Connect with Michael on LinkedIn and learn more about ALHI at its website.

Listen to our full interview with Michael by subscribing to the Leadercast Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.

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