Sales consultant Jim Doyle outlines four approaches to help TV station sales teams take advantage of the growing opportunities available to them. “AEs — and a few managers — need to stop thinking about history and start thinking about possibility. Possibility is what a client could spend with you. That is usually a whole lot more than what they have been doing.”
The local TV business has amazing opportunities right now. The Yellow Pages are going away, which frees up all kinds of money in your market. Our digital platforms dramatically increase the number of clients we can call on. We have more tools to help our existing clients. Plus, other media are hurting. It’s a time of opportunity.
But the sales staffs of most TV stations aren’t ready for this primetime. They are sales staff when what they really need to be is a sales force.
What does a sales force look like?
- It overachieves all market share indexes.
- Almost all its members are better than anyone at its competitors.
- Everyone, even the veterans, do aggressive amounts of new business.
- The leadership is never satisfied. It wants more.
So how can you create a sales force? Here are a few things to concentrate on.
1. Make sure you deal with your underperformers. This may be the single common characteristic of all high-performing organizations. Here’s the exercise. List all the members of your team, starting with the ones you would absolutely hate to lose. Work your way down to the ones who would hurt you the least if they left. And make a decision to either fix those weak ones or move on in the next 90-180 days. Nothing is harder. But nothing is more important. Don’t accept in victory what you would not tolerate in defeat.
2. Make sure your team understands basic selling techniques. Our new opportunities represent a totally different kind of business than what we’ve had in the past. Look at where the money is going to come from. It’s from current non-users and from new products. All require selling. We will have to be business creators rather than inventory managers in order to have continued success. Many of our current account executives have great transactional skills but lack the basics of selling like answering objections or closing. That has to change.
3. Teach your people how to ask for big money. There needs to be a new mantra at TV stations: “Little money equals little results; serious money equals serious results.” Your AEs control enough real estate in your town to be a one-stop shop for most businesses. Help them to understand that when a client spends their money in fewer places their results go up dramatically. So media mix for most advertisers is a complete and total fraud. Media mix becomes media mediocrity.
How do you start the big money process? Re-commit to diagnosis-based selling and go back to existing clients for a full diagnosis effort. When you find out what their business priorities are you can create a plan that helps them get there. Sell the hole, not the drill bit.
One critical piece of this? Helping AEs (and, yes, a few managers) to stop thinking about history and start thinking about possibility. Possibility is what a client could spend with you. That is usually a whole lot more than what they have been doing.
4. Sell your AEs on the power of your products. Here’s a common scenario. Your newer, younger AEs aren’t completely sold on your traditional TV product. And many of your experienced veterans secretly wish this digital stuff would go away. Does that describe your team?
What does that mean? It means that both groups have to be sold. As the great motivator Keith Harrell used to say: “You can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery.” If they’re not sold, they won’t be great salespeople.
What’s the best way to sell your team? It’s not with numbers and statistics. It’s by using the power of success stories. Here’s an idea that rocks. Require each of your sellers to record a client testimonial on their smart phone. Make that the price of admission to an upcoming sales meeting. You’ll have a great meeting. And the beginning of a library of stories you can insert into any presentation.
The final piece?
It has to be leadership. Our leaders have to be better than ever. They make things happen. Or don’t.
Making the transition from a sales staff to a sales force isn’t easy. But as dozens of stations show us, it is very possible. But it won’t happen by accident. It will happen when a leader takes one or more of the ideas in this article and turns it into action.
They say that knowledge is power. I disagree. Knowledge isn’t power. Action is power. Doing nothing in a time of rapid change is a prescription for mediocrity.
So take action. Our future depends on that.
Jim Doyle is president of Jim Doyle and Associates, a sales consulting firm. He and his team will make more than 4,000 sales calls in 82 markets this year and recently introduced the video training library “TVSales.101.”