Most of us in media sales have read Soar with Your Strengths by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. Some of us have even read more than the synopsis on the back cover or the first chapter. The idea is that you find what you are good at and do more of it. Fish are great swimmers but not great runners; rabbits can run but can’t climb trees, etc.
I got into media sales management because a wise mentor recognized a strength in what I thought was a weakness. I was an NSM and there was always a co-worker in my office. Sometimes it was for help, sometimes to vent, and sometimes just to chat. When this new general manager came in, I didn’t want him to think we were wasting time and not working. If I saw him coming down the hall, I would shoo the visitor out of my office.
The new general manager, Chris Crawford (with whom I am working again here at Efficio), saw my revolving office door as a strength. He recognized that I am very good at relationships, and that I have a helpful nature. This was what he wanted in a GSM so that we could build solid sales teams. I learned to recognize my strengths and find ways to deal with what I lack.
So, first of all, how do you find out what those strengths are?
- Analyze data. Look at the facts. Use your CRM and media sales analytics software to determine your areas of expertise. You might be the consistent top biller or an outstanding prospector. You might have a lot of contacts and put out a great newsletter. You might be incredible at uncovering needs or doing research on clients. Pretend you are looking at someone else and analyzing their performance. You will start finding places where you rise to the top.
- What things in your media sales job are you excited about? What makes the day fly by? Maybe you get a buzz from presenting; maybe you can lose yourself in researching clients. Chances are that those are your strong points.
- Figure out what motivates you. This goes beyond what you are excited about in your day. This is what keeps you raising your own bar. Most sellers would readily answer “money,” but look past that. It might be recognition, status or power; it might be the feeling of winning. It might even be a negative, such as the fear of having someone angry with you, or fear of not being able to feed your family. These wind-beneath-your-wings factors will help you determine what you are doing so well that you are remaining motivated.
- Ask co-workers and family. Ask your BFFs for some honesty. Ask them to tell you what you do best (save the negatives for another time!). This can be uplifting, as you hear how great you are at certain things. But warning: withhold the temptation to prompt them (“But don’t you think I am great at so-and-so?”). You want to hear what they truthfully see.
- Ask your manager. They will have analyzed your performance already. Your manager knows what you do well, and has probably been trying to share that with you in your one-on-ones. Ask your manager to give you more opportunities to fly high.
Media sales isn’t rocket science. But just like the astronaut needs to be an expert in flying, the builder of the spacecraft needs to be an aerospace engineer, and the navigator needs to know the way to the moon, you as a professional media seller need to know yourself so you can skyrocket to the top!
Next week: Now that you recognize your strengths, how do you deal with those things you are not-so-great at?