NAB 2011

Get TV, Web Sales Staff On Same Page

Sales consultant Jim Doyle tells an NAB audience that both traditional and digital account executives tend to undervalue, even disparage the “other” medium. That should change.

When Jim Doyle speaks, station executives tend to listen, as many learned first hand Monday at the 2011 NAB Show session entitled “Recreating the Television Model.”

Doyle is the principal at Jim Doyle & Associates, the Sarasota, Fla.-based sales consulting service. “When I first saw Jim speak to a room full of tough sales people I noticed something surprising,” said Carol Wilkins, NAB’s VP of television in her introduction. “They sat up straight and took notes.”

The focus of Doyle’s workshop was how to “upgrade” station sales revenue by boosting the enthusiasm and effectiveness of both the traditional and digital sales force. A spirited Q&A quickly revealed a wide range of staff configurations, from Maryland to Alaska. But they shared a common list of opportunities and problems.

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“Your biggest opportunity is probably the Yellow Pages,” said Doyle, noting that in Syracuse, N.Y., alone, there are 37 full-page ads for attorneys. Doyle urged the audience to target those advertisers for their own local websites. “Digital gives us new playgrounds,” said Doyle, adding “health care is the No. 1 opportunity.”

Chief among the shared problems: both traditional and digital account executives tend to undervalue, even disparage the “other” medium — especially younger AEs. “A lot of us came into this business at a time when we really had to learn how to sell,” said Doyle. “But people who started after 1990 have mainly been exposed to transactional sales.”

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Doyle polled the audience about the staffing and structure of their traditional and digital sales forces. Most stations reported separate teams of specialists often headed by a single sales manager — not the best model, according to Doyle, emphasizing the importance of a leader with a passion for the product.

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“If you’re not red hot, how do you expect to warm up a client?” asks Doyle.

But it can be OK if that passion favors one medium over another, according to Craig Jahelka, general manager of WBOC Salisbury, Md. “We had a digital AE who couldn’t name our news anchors. Didn’t matter. She sells to mom and pop businesses who could never afford traditional TV spots. And she certainly believes in the power of the Web.”

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Jahelka is a big fan of Doyle’s video training courses. “We made them mandatory for both our traditional and digital account execs,” says Jahelka. But do the two groups get different advice from the video courses? “Nope,” says Jahelka. “Sales is sales.”


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