Bill Scanlon is president of Strategic Solution Partners, a consulting group he founded in 2007. A results-driven sales and marketing leader with over 25 years of experience generating organizational transformation and achieving measurable results with global hospitality brands, he now shares his expertise with private clients.
He began his career in the hospitality industry at Marriott, where for 20 years he progressively moved up the corporate ladder to his pinnacle role in the company as vice president of Caribbean, Central and South Americas. He left Marriott to become the senior vice president of sales and marketing at HEI Hotels & Resorts. Following his experience at HEI, Bill founded his own consulting firm, Strategic Solutions Partners, where he helps clients transform their businesses and drive revenue growth. Upon completing a consulting consignment for his client, Wyndham Worldwide, he was asked to join the Hotel Group as their senior vice president of sales & marketing. After two and a half years growing revenue for their $1.5 billion portfolio of companies, he returned again as president of Strategic Solutions Partners with renewed dedication and zest.
He is also an associate member of the G7 Hospitality Group and an affiliate partner of Cayuga Hospitality Partners.
How did the concept for Strategic Solution Partners come about?
I had originally set up SSP as a consultancy. The very first inquiry I received was regarding a business development project for a hotel and the second was for an interim director of sales and marketing for a Caribbean hotel. Being the salesperson that I am, while this was not in my portfolio of services, I said “Yes, we do” and made it happen.
How was the first year in business?
Very slow. Like most senior executives who find themselves prematurely out of work, you tend to leverage your network. Once that is exhausted, however, you have to find new clients. Fortunately, I was a successful salesperson early on so I shifted gears and hit the phones. It is difficult to revert and not get any call backs, overcome the normal lack of interest if there is not an immediate need, and the time limitations that our clients have, but if you persevere through the sales cycle, things start to happen.
What was your marketing strategy?
There is no replacing relationships and quality product. It is also about networking and re-establishing contacts that you have made over your career while also creating new ones. Word of mouth is your best marketing tool and that recognition is built upon your integrity and the quality of your product and service.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Initially, not quickly at all. I was doing a project for Wyndham in the Caribbean and they made me an offer that I could not refuse. I worked there from 2009 to 2011, returning to the business in late 2011. So, I consider 2012 my first real full year back. Since then, we have grown in the high double digits annually.
How do you define success?
Success is positively contributing to your clients, your partners, and your associates’ short- and long-term success on both personal and professional levels, if you can. Contributing to their success gives me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment whether it impacts the top or bottom lines, or not.
What is the key to success?
Ethics and values. Regardless of technology, it comes down to the product you delver, the trust you build, and the ethics you operate under.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Stay positive. If you persevere, it will come. If you’re determined, you will succeed. If you believe, it will happen.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“No is just yes waiting to happen” and “Plan the work and work the plan.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
They all are challenging one way or another. I cannot isolate one over the other as they are equally as challenging and equally as rewarding. I think the hardest thing is bringing your “A” game every day. At some point, you transition from doing to being and being that leader/example is key to creating your culture and defining your expectations for your team members.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My commitment to my family, my team, and my clients.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Be flexible. Talk to everyone you can. Be a sponge. Keep your ideas for future use. Today, they may not be right, but tomorrow they may be. Take the time to proactively think through who your target customer is, what they want/need, who your competitors are for that customer, and what makes you different.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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