(By Deborah Parenti) I am no sports expert — especially not about football — but this year’s history-making Super Bowl game reminded me — as it should everyone, no matter who you were rooting for — that perseverance pays off. That it’s “not over ‘til it’s over.”
You know where this is going. Radio. Resilience. Rewards.
And the need to keep moving down the field, to adjust strategy as necessary, but to never, ever give up.
Since the first of the year, I’ve had the chance to meet with industry professionals, from the upper end of the management chain to those closest to Main Street, local sellers. The reviews thus far for 2017, at least first quarter, appear to be a mixed bag, but overall, not as robust as some would like. Among other factors, the challenges in the current uncertain political and business climate have seen many advertisers take a wait-and-see approach. As one executive opined, “We are holding the cautiously optimistic view that some of the first-quarter holds break loose either end of March or second quarter.”
Having sat in on or led a couple of sales meetings or two over my career, I can imagine there are two kinds in process right now. The good ones will focus on brainstorming, the not-so-good on browbeating. I hope yours fall into the first category, but I also know that even the best advice often falls on deaf ears if it’s coming from the same voice day in and day out.
So let me offer some thoughts from where I sit now — and what I would advise both sales managers and sellers in your meeting today.
It boils down to four “back to basic” points that never change.
1. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Too much time and effort is often misplaced by “running in place.” It’s tough to be down a month and up against the budget. But spending too much time today on today can be counterproductive in winning the game. The average sale doesn’t fall into place overnight. Especially in terms of new business, it can take months to develop. When the year ends, the question isn’t, “Did we make the month?” The question is, “Did we make the year?”
2. Build and grow relationships — internally and externally. I once knew a guy who sold carpeting. His slogan was, “You’ve got a buddy in the carpet business.” You need buddies — lots of buddies — out in the street, among clients, and in the station, on your team. The deeper you develop relationships, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the stronger you build your career and your sales.
Older reps can learn as much from younger, digitally native, counterparts — and digital dudes can take a page from their more seasoned counterparts. The same applies to client relationships. I learned so much from an automotive dealer and a small pizza shop owner that went far beyond their marketing challenges. I learned about what it takes to build a business and satisfy retail customers. And I made some great friends in both.
3. Build a team that takes advantage of that team’s combined strengths by promoting and encouraging brainstorming and problem solving. This one calls for leadership. It also should not be confined strictly to, or as part of, a regularly scheduled sales meeting. Change the air — and the attitude — by making this special, perhaps in a different room or outside the building. Everyone can bring their biggest client challenge and open up a discussion that taps into everyone’s brain power and experience. You can also do this on your own by seeking out ideas from other team members. People love to be asked for advice!
4. Be flexible. Like a sports team, you have to adjust your game to meet the circumstances. Resilience — and the rewards that follow — are rooted in one’s ability to tweak the strategy, regroup when necessary, and never be afraid to try something new. If “Plan A” doesn’t cut it — if that marketing idea doesn’t work — have a “Plan B” ready to offer.
And that concludes today’s sales meeting. Get out there. Spread your enthusiasm, your knowledge, and “win one for the Gipper” — and yourself!