Lessons for media sales

Unidentified soldier in Union uniform and kepi with unidentified young boy, probably father and son, c.1862. Library of Congress.

Like for many people out there, my dad was a big influence in my life. I found out after I had grown up that my dad was a very smart man. He did not get the chance to go to college or get an advanced degree, because his family couldn’t afford to send two sons to college and one wanted to go on to medical school. So, Dad had the privilege of going to work right out of high school.

I discovered out how smart my dad was not always through what he said, but by what he did. What he did was a manifestation of what he believed. Many of his lessons have helped me in sales and sales management, so I will share a few of them here with you, as I’m thinking a lot about him as Father’s Day approaches.

  1. It is unreasonable to expect others to listen to your advice but ignore your example. As a sales manager, you are in a leadership position. You lead people and manage the business of sales — two very different endeavors. Talented people enjoy being understood, accepted, and developed by their leaders. Fill your organization with the very best people possible.
  2. Do what you say you will do. Every dad or mom has probably shared this one. Keep your promises with external and internal clients alike. Sales people are only effective when a potential client trusts them enough to give them real information about their business. This open dialogue is critical to getting to real needs, budgets, and a head start on possible solutions. Be known as someone who can be trusted with this important information and you will get more of it.
  3. No farmer ever plowed the field by turning it over in his mind. I recently wrote a blog on call reluctance, and this statement applies directly to that topic. Basically, people act their way into a new way of thinking, so your actions reflect the fact that you get it. Make it happen by acting on your thoughts and plans. Make something happen by doing what needs to be done and hold yourself accountable for the outcomes you desire.
  4. The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. This is the heart of a solutions-focused sales person. Find the pain or difficulty with a client and create solutions to relieve that pain, and you will always have plenty of business and great sources for referrals and renewals. Surround yourself with positive influences and run as fast as you can from negative ones. Be an optimist; it will show.
  5. Finally, the more you prepare, the luckier you get. Preparation is a key for successful sales people. Research your clients, work on questions before you call on them, and rehearse the call in your mind before you get there. All these things will make you a “luckier” sales person.

Sadly, my dad is gone now, but some of the things I share with you here illustrate how much he will always be an influence in my career, and hopefully, some of you will be inspired by his words as well.

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