(By Lisa Thal) Let’s face it, in today’s fast-paced world, you are managing a lot of projects. The one that impacts your employment the most is exceeding your revenue expectations. Retaining current clients and growing new revenue each day are the priorities. So what’s the secret to be a great sales manager? Over my 31-year career, I’ve discovered, from the managers that coached me, and from my own experiences, it comes down to these five strategies.
1. Identify talent. The expression “You are only as good as your team” says it all. Your team is the number one focus. This is the most critical step to being a great sales manager. You can have the best ratings in the market, but without a talented team, you will find it challenging to convert your ratings into revenue and drive new direct business in the audio space. On the other hand, if your team has talent, you will find it easier to get to your revenue goals, regardless of your rating position.
You need to assess how many sellers you need on your team. In today’s world of noncompete contracts, you will likely have to look outside the media landscape. Identify companies that have great sales training programs, like Verizon, Apple, IBM, car rental companies, or major manufacturers like Cintas, and educate them about the benefits of our industry.
2. Coach and develop talent. It is time to review your current team. You need to assess each team member’s strengths and ability to do what is needed for achieving all revenue expectations. This is where you need to be honest with yourself about whether your team member has the skill sets needed to do the job. As sales managers, we see potential in everyone, but do they have the talent to exceed what is required of them?
We also realize our role is to develop each seller, but they must first have the capacity to learn from our coaching. We need discipline, competition, relationship- building, and problem-solving skills on our team. This is a tough step. I would write down how many sellers your team needs. Review your current team and identify who has the innate talents. You will then have to determine what your needs are for recruitment. It’s important that you are constantly looking for talent to hire, so you are prepared when the need arises.
3. Inspire and engage your team. Great managers realize they play a large role in their sales team’s lives. You often play the role of psychologist, parent, and influencer. Typically, salespeople are driven emotionally. They need our support in and outside the building. I ask each of my sellers what drives them. “Money” tends to be the number one answer. However, the underlying answer is actually what the money provides them. Many say their families and the ability to provide for them. They want to send their kids to private schools. They want material items like a new home, vacation home, a boat, or financial freedom. For others, it’s contribution; they love to know they can make a difference in other people’s lives. Great managers understand that they serve two types of customers: first, their sellers, and second, the clients. Get to know your team’s needs and what inspires them!
4. Know your numbers. In addition to our people skills, we must know the best strategy for achieving our revenue goals. This includes inventory management and making certain we have the commercial inventory to meet and exceed our goals. If we oversell the station and client demand increases, we will impact our sellers’ income and the ability to exceed revenue goals.
I recommend looking at historical trends for demand — sellout by month and daypart. Look six months out to see if you’re pacing ahead or you’re behind last year’s actuals. You may need to create other options to make up for any shortfalls in revenue. You can brainstorm with your programming/promotions team on customizing ideas to take to the market.
Delegate all non-revenue-driven tasks to others. The most important thing you can do is make calls with your team or make a list of accounts you can target to convert. I have discovered that in meeting with current clients, there is always an opportunity to help them. It may be recruitment- or revenue-focused, but you need to ask how you can help their business. We have more solutions today to impact a client’s bottom line.
5. Set the tone. We set the tone for the entire sales organization with our actions. It’s imperative to be there for your team. We need to coach in the field alongside our sellers. We need to continue to invest in ourselves and expand our minds to know that everything is possible. Be a resource when they face a challenging day, and celebrate their successes. Discover what each seller needs to be successful, and coach them along the way, so they can grow personally and professionally. It takes a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy to be there for your team. It requires you to have a clear mind, so you can provide solutions to your team and your advertisers.
I encourage you to use the strategies above to assist you in becoming the best sales manager you can be! For more ways to engage and inspire your team, visit www.threewordmeetings.com
Lisa Thal is the general sales manager for Hubbard Interactive Cincinnati. She’s also the author of Three-Word Meetings: A Simple Strategy to Engage, Inspire and Empower Your Team. Get it on Amazon.com.