The Secret To Finding Great Salespeople


Taja Graham, VP Sales for the four Emmis Communications stations in Indianapolis, and a 66-station statewide news network, expects a lot from her 14-person salesforce. Direct sales and digital sales experience rank high on her list of the type of experience she looks for. She finds sales talent in a variety of places.

Radio Ink: Where do you find good salespeople?
Graham: Believe it or not, Enterprise Car Rental. They have a very sophisticated sales training program, so anybody that is diligent about training and demonstrates a consistency in their training, produces very good sales talent. Anyone that has an extensive digital background is good for us. Here in Indy, the newspaper company, Gannett, has some pretty talented people in their digital space. Those individuals are on my radar. Also, anyone who comes from a smaller, regional market size has more experience in direct sales. In our state, places like South Bend, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, and Evansville. I found those to be good talents because of their direct business portfolios.

Radio Ink: What do you look for when you hire a salesperson?
Graham: My sales team is structured a little bit differently than some. I have a dual team effort handling what you may call transactional business, I have two sellers for that. The other 12 handle what I call direct transformative relationship business. In both instances I look for someone with a strong competitive nature. From the transactional side, you need to be able to demonstrate why you deserve your share or more. On the transformative relationship side, you have to make sure you don’t leave money on the table. I also look for people with the ability to close. If you can get somebody to the table but not close, then you won’t be good for me in sales. Again, on the direct and transformative side, I’m looking for people that need to be good at problem solving for the clients. Those salespeople need to provide sound solutions for clients to help them grow their business.

Radio Ink: Should you manage all salespeople the same?
Graham: Absolutely not. Everybody is wired differently so you want to be able to develop and coach them based on their talents. We follow a pretty strong system of getting to know our talent, how they like to receive their information, because if we know how they like to be coached they will be more receptive to giving them the guidance they need to be successful. You have to develop your style for each individual.

Radio Ink: What makes a good sales meeting for you?
Graham: A good sales meeting is when you can provide information that is meaningful and impactful to the teams and the talent that you have in the room. The best sales meetings have some level of coaching and training within them. Not a lot of reporting because you can utilize other mechanisms for that, via email or other methods. Here we use digital boards to report and recap. An impactful sales meeting is one in which you use various training mechanisms, especially if you are rolling out something new.

Radio Ink: What are your thoughts on call sheets?
Graham: We don’t use call sheets here. I actually have a pretty sound system called a Score Card. Basically what it indicates to me, utilizing analytical data on current sales, it gives me a cost per AE so I can know if what we are paying them is worth the value. My sellers are not on commission, they are salaried based with incentives. So it’s important that we make sure we are getting value out of each of them individually. So I look to that Score Card and on that card are some indicators like new business development and also digital sales. I use that more than a call sheet.

You can contact Taja Graham at 317.684.8771 or Email [email protected]


  1. “My sellers are not on commission, they are salaried based with incentives.” Interesting. Tell me more!


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