Like millions of others, we watched in horror this past Sunday afternoon as Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s leg broke in two places, with six inches of bone popping out of the skin at a right angle. It wasn’t just too many chocolate bunnies that made our stomachs turn. Facebook and Twitter blew up – but in a way that I actually didn’t expect.
Being a basketball junkie, I had been having multiple conversations on IM and through text, Facebook and email about how the refs screwed this team or that team, or how that player shouldn’t be in the game, or how could a great coach like (fill in the blank here) make such a stupid play! There was a lot of trash talking and bitterness among rivals.
But Sunday was different. Opponent Duke’s players and coaches had tears in their eyes. Even arch-rival Kentucky put out a statement of support.
Media sales is not a team sport — or is it? Just as players push themselves to achieve the best stats and garner the most airtime to further their careers, media sellers’ incomes are based on the dollars they generate. You can get to your goals and be the darling of the sales department, but, as in sports, if the station doesn’t hit goal and chalk up a win, and even though you are the star, sales meetings can feel like those long bus rides home after a loss.
So how can you keep your income where you want it, yet still be a great team player?
- Share avails and information. Your “opponents” for media dollars are NOT in your building. They are at some other media outlet, but they are getting the deal due to a lack of good information about you and your station, or because they have a better idea or a stronger relationship. Don’t be afraid to introduce the media seller on your other stations to your contacts. Work together to come up with a great solution for your client. Share the ball to get in position to make points.
- Encourage others. Someone mentored you at some point. Show others the ropes. Help them to that next billing level, win the sales contest or polish that presentation idea that is sure to get the order. Your time and efforts will come back to you. The best coaches were also players.
- Give up accounts to someone who can do something more with them. Take a hard look at your list and be honest with yourself. This is not so hard for those accounts that haven’t billed in two years, but if you are an established media seller with a lot of accounts, those smaller billing accounts may be sucking time and energy (and ideas!) from your top clients that are primed for growth. Pare your list down to where it is manageable, and let the newer seller take a shot that may result in money. Pass the ball to the person who is in the best position to score.
- Respect your opponents. This means not only recognize and be prepared for what they bring to the table for your shared customers, but take it a step further. Know THEM as people. I call them “friendly competitors.” Perhaps you can recommend their station either as an addition or even as an alternative to yours to solve a client’s particular marketing problem. Perhaps you can work together so that you can both get money from a client who needs a comprehensive plan. You might even hire that media seller for your team in the future! Help the guy you bumped off the floor and shake hands before and after the game.
- Remember the goal: to help the client, which will result in a renewal and a long-term customer, and that will result in a win for you. If you keep that in mind, you won’t be selfish and withhold information or ideas. Winning is good for the client, you, and your team.
Kevin Ware gathered his team around him to implore them to “win the game” even as he was suffering. Everyone is talking about his passion and leadership. Bet you want to be that person in media sales.