How does a horse win a race? Put blinders on her and she’ll run like hell until she gets to the finish line! No distractions from other horses — just the horse, the rider and the finish line to win it.
Media sellers have more products and services to sell today than ever before, but to try to pitch it all to their clients can cause a sellers’ work effort to become diluted, unfocused and unsuccessful. This vast number of product choices can cause a sellers’ product knowledge to become watered down as well, which will only hurt his or her effectiveness and credibility as well as that of their station or company.
Unlike ten years ago, today’s media sellers are pitching 60’s, 30’s, 15’s, 120’s, long form, endorsement, sponsorships, billboards, weathers, traffics, ID’s, and at some companies, blinks and winks too. Yeah, you got it! Some of us are actually selling one-second spots!
But wait, there’s more! Now many of us are also selling non-traditional events (NTR), vendor, co-op or third party programs, government programs, concerts, sampling and booths, digital streaming, player sponsorships, banners, email marketing, texting, studio naming rights, digital consulting, web site development, SEO, half-price deals, and the list goes on and on! I even know of stations that had their sellers pitching magazines, CD’s and VIP boxes at the amphitheater. Talk about spreading yourself thin!
You can’t just hit the streets with the list of “stuff” to sell. Sellers have to go though extensive training on how these packages work and what the benefits and drawbacks are for the client. We would never want to send our sellers out on the streets without a respectable education on all their products and services, right?
What’s more is that many of these products and services have budgets and goals attached to them, and since our sales force is money motivated and incentivized to drive up their income (despite declining commissions), they are trying (struggling, I’d suggest), to hit their goals, secure their jobs and show that they are drinking the company Kool-Aid — but at what price? At what price to the seller and at what price to the station/s they are working to support? Are we burning sellers out?
So what are the next steps? Managers have to help their sellers “soar with their strengths,” as Donald O. Clifton says. We do have to keep budgets in mind, but helping the individuals on our sales staffs focus on products and services that they find a natural connection with may help them reach their goals and not get bogged down by trying to touch or sell everything or become an expert on every product and service that stations offer today.
Sales managers, you can improve productivity and reduce an enormous strain on your sellers if you can make the time to help them narrow their sales focus, not just in terms of how many accounts are on their lists, but in terms of the station products for which they really can become knowledgeable experts. Some will be able to handle more than others, but all will appreciate your encouraging them to take smaller bites of what, to many, seems to be an insurmountable task. You’ll have happier, more productive sellers and you’ll very likely see the results in their effectiveness and station revenues.