I have a confession. I, Kitty Malone, am an addict. I am addicted to reality TV. I particularly like the ones that have solid elements of competition and strategy. My guilty pleasures are Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race, Apprentice – you get the picture. My family will occasionally look at a piece of food and exclaim, “IT’S RAW!” in a perfect Hell’s Kitchen Gordon Ramsay accent. I was appropriately star struck when Project Runway’s Tim Gunn told me I was “fierce.”
As I watch, I strategize about what I would do better than the contestant who just came in last, got fired or voted off, and I realize that much of this tactical ability comes from my experience in media sales. But this road goes both ways, as there is plenty to learn from reality TV that can help you become a better media seller.
- The Apprentice: Those called back to the Boardroom are most often the ones who didn’t ask good questions and didn’t listen to the answers, which caused them to miss the mark on their product or event. That client on the Apprentice has a look you don’t want to see – one that says, “Yeah, I am watching this presentation, but I can’t wait to get it over with!” The other lesson from the Apprentice is to put the right people in the right jobs. Let your production folks be creative, get help with your presentation if you need it, and accept advice on your next steps from your sales manager. If you don’t heed the lessons from the Apprentice – to ask questions, listen, and accept help – you too may hear those two life-changing words [cue the Donald]…
- Dancing With the Stars and American Idol: The standouts in talent-based competition shows do have talent, but they also have a great work ethic. They use their tools to make their act great. They work until they are exhausted, then they run through the song one more time. All the while, they keep smiling! In media sales there are CRM tools to help you keep on top of your accounts. The most successful sellers often work harder and smarter, making just one more call, always with a smile.
- Hell’s Kitchen: Contestants have to do their jobs well, but are often part of a team. Losing team members nominate the weakest link, which may not always be the least talented. Team members have low tolerance for arrogance, laziness, or lack of focus. Don’t be your media sales team’s villain. Take care of your own business, but be well aware that, just as the “chef-testants” in Hell’s Kitchen have the goal of being the winning team, your team has the goal of MAKING goal. Do your part and help those who need it. This will put you on the winning team.
- The Amazing Race: The last team to arrive often got lost. Those who asked directions and solicited advice are, literally, a step ahead. Curiosity about and tolerance for other cultures may mean eating local delicacies such as bugs or navigating crowded streets. In media sales, use your CRM tools to guide you to good prospects. Ask for advice from your manager. Be curious about your prospects and customers, and realize everyone isn’t like you. Be accepting of their business plan. You don’t want to be eliminated from consideration.
- Survivor and Big Brother: Every show has the person who builds trust, and most often, they win! They win because they understand how to build and maintain relationships (reality TV calls them “alliances.”) You will be more successful if you build solid alliances with those at your station, and if you build strong relationships with your customers. People like to do business with people they like. Don’t let your torch be extinguished.
One other common thread these shows have is that winners prepare. In the Amazing Race, contestants study maps. Survivors practice making fire before they hit the island. Cooking show contestants had better know how to make risotto and a medium-rare steak. To get the big payoff, media sellers should know a prospect’s billing history, have prepared a solid reason for the client to grant you an appointment, and have done their homework on basic information before asking insightful questions – all of which you can get with a good CRM system.
And let’s not forget The Bachelor. From this show we learn…um…ah…that women like roses? Ok, you can just watch this one as a guilty pleasure.
Need some ideas about how to maintain and strengthen customer communication through eMarketing? Read “An Email Marketing How-to Guide for Media Sales.”