Author: Kate Foster, CWC, CMP
The collection of properties operated by Easton Porter, are some of the most luxurious and stunning locations in the South East. We have been so fortunate to work with their team for almost two decades, led by Director of Sales, Ellen Christie. Ellen brings a lengthy and diverse level of experience to Easton Porter and shares the same client-centered philosophy as HMS. Catching up with Ellen for this interview was like having a coffee with an old friend. We were thrilled to hear her story in more detail.
KF: For those who don’t know your legendary status already, tell us a little about your career journey and how you ended up in Sales?
EC: I have always said you’ve either got the hospitality ‘bug’ or you don’t. I am a people person and that’s how it all started for me. All my jobs in high school were in hospitality so when it came time for college, I knew what I wanted to do. I was living in Canada at the time and ended up at a university with one of the best hospitality, food & tourism management programs and I earned a bachelor of commerce degree specializing in hospitality.
Once I graduated, I started to pursue venues and positions within the industry that would give me a diverse and unique experience. I was fortunate to work at the CN Tower for many years, which is the tallest free-standing structure in the world. From there I was able to determine exactly what I wanted to do with my career. I’ve worked every position from restaurants to rooms, but I really felt that sales was my calling. I feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to have incredibly unique job opportunities within the hospitality industry!
KF: I agree with you completely that most of us Lifers in this industry ‘got bit by the bug’ as you call it and love this industry deeply. What would you say you love most about your job?
EC: No day is the same. I love that each day is ever changing. I am still involved with the thrill of the sale and chasing the close, but I’m also coaching and mentoring my sales managers. I think that the coaching side is really what drives me the most. Helping other people see what their potential is and bringing it out in them is what I love most about my current role.
KF: Well, it is fortunate that you thrive off change because 2020 definitely delivered that in volumes! So, let’s focus on the positive changes. Can you share with our readers what changes have you implemented at your properties or in your events or with your sales team in order to thrive during the pandemic? Anything tangible that you are proud to share.
EC: We are enormously proud of all our locations for taking the safety guidelines very seriously and embracing them 100% throughout the entire company. We worked together as a team and not only looked at the CDC and county guidelines but also stepped outside-of-the-box and came up with ways that we could make sure that not only our guests were safe, but also ensure our staffs’ safety as well. We made both large and small changes. Even something as simple as adding mini hand washing stations everywhere throughout our properties, seems obvious but it has made a big impact.
Ignoring what is going on right now is one of the worst things you can do for your business. From a sales perspective, you must be able to speak about what you are doing confidently and not pretend that it (covid) is not happening.
KF: We like to encourage our readers with Three Gold Keys.
Key 1: What is your best advice to other sale professionals and business leaders?
EC: Talk to your team. I’ve been so fortunate to work with some great teams throughout my career. The people I have loved the most and the experiences I have thrived on the most, I feel there has always been great collaboration. Here at Easton Porter we promote an ‘inverted pyramid’. Instead of the upper management telling everyone else what to do, we are the ones at the bottom holding everyone up!
If you want people to grow on your team, then you must be willing to collaborate, and communication is the key to that. I feel this has really been the key to my success.
Key 2: We find ourselves online more than ever now and there is a need for quality resources. Do you have any favorite resources /online tools that you could share with other sales professionals and business leaders?
EC: I’m old school and I go back to my grassroots trainings from Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar. These principles are timeless and apply today more than ever because they focus on selling by helping others which is such a lost art.
Key 3: We are big fans of Brian and Zig at HMS! Do you have a motivational quote that encourages you during these difficult times?
EC: I have to say Zig Ziglar has one of my all-time favorite quotes:
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life forever.”
I tie it in with a Maya Angeluo quote:
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
I keep the importance of my delivery in the forefront of mind personally and professionally, especially right now.