It was bound to happen. Just when I thought I had made it through the season unscathed, there in my mailbox was that thick envelope containing a relative’s graduation announcement (and wasn’t he only ten a couple of Christmases ago?). Graduation – that time when you are full of accomplishment and ready to set the world on fire.
But suddenly, at the same time, the rug has been pulled out from under you. The safety net is gone. Your dorm room or shared apartment will be thoroughly cleaned to be ready for the next guy. Your structure of classes, games and weekends seen through beer goggles is no longer in place. So, what’s next?
If you have been in media sales for very long, you have probably had the same feelings that many graduates have right now. Maybe you hit a plateau. You have your list, your people, your ways, and it works just fine — until it doesn’t.
Sometimes change is forced on you, perhaps by new ownership or a new manager. Your safety net is gone and the future is uncertain. Just like the new grads, you may be pushed out of your comfortable cocoon and forced to grow. What do you need to do to keep yourself out of the basement?
- Prospect. Set aside time each day to look for opportunity. You can cold call door-to-door, pick a business category and get on the phone to get appointments, or do research and focus on a solid idea for a specific target. Use your CRM and media sales analytics program to view your billing history and to see who was on for the upcoming six months last year or the year before. Just find and develop new business.
- Reach a little higher. If your budget has become comfortable, reset it. Negotiate with your manager that if you bring in X more business, you will get dinner at the nicest place in town, or tickets to the game in the station box, or whatever it is that will motivate you. Fix that new goal in your head, put it in front of you and don’t be satisfied until you hit it.
- Become the expert at some aspect of media sales. Take a class or online seminar, or ask questions of a mentor. Maybe learn more about how to do vendor programs or make money from events; maybe become an expert user of your CRM software, or get tips on how to prospect from a seller you respect or your manager. You will grow mentally and become more valuable if you are the go-to guy.
- Embrace technology. Face it – it isn’t going away. The days of the written call sheet, projections done by hope and prayer, and not being accountable for your time are history. Use CRM and sales analytics tools to save yourself time and stay organized, and use that solid information to help make good decisions and plan for the future. You will work smarter and make more money.
- MOVE. Move out of the basement. Make a pledge and a plan to do something to grow, and reach for a new comfort zone. Don’t wait for life to happen. Set new goals and get going.
If you hit a plateau and are comfortable in your old room, or if change is forced on you, you don’t want to be unprepared in case New Owner Mom or New Manager Dad kicks you out of the house. When you are faced with “what’s next?” – MOVE!
And speaking of New Manager Dad, does being a meanie really bring out the best in your media sales staff?