(By Bob McCurdy) A couple of weeks back I came across an article that’s been on my mind since. The piece referenced a study by advertising holding company Havas, which concluded that if 77% of brands disappeared overnight, consumers wouldn’t care. This stat had to be more than a little disconcerting to manufacturers that nearly 80 percent of all brands could vanish from the face of the earth and most would not blink an eye. The study went on to state that those brands which were deemed meaningful and brought value, outperformed the stock market by 134 percent. Not bad.
How “meaningful” are we to our clients and how much “value” do we generate for them? Let’s consider the above, not through a “brand” lens, but through a “sales” lens. What would the percentage have been, if instead of consumers being interviewed, local retailers and ad agencies were interviewed and asked a similar question that focused on local media salespeople? Think the answer would be vastly different?
I often hear the word “relationship” bandied about in sales pits when discussing the value reps bring to a client. Really? Is it as good as you think it is? Would the client agree? Tighter than your competitors? What is the foundation upon which the relationship is built? Is the relationship more socially based? Golf, lunch? Or expertise based? Are you their first call when they’re in a bind or need the straight scoop regarding some important advertising or media issue? Are you their “go to” person for guidance when the going gets tough? Relationships are critical but there are different kinds of relationships and all relationships are not created equal. Is yours based on social interaction or business expertise? Generally speaking, shoot for the latter, they bring more value. Look reality in the eye when answering these questions, as the tendency is to overestimate just how solid and deep our relationships are. And remember, relationships never stay the same outside the family. In business they are either getting better or worse, there is no status quo.
Do you bring stun-and-awe professional value to the clients with whom you work? Would they agree? Has this value been increasing each year? If not, you could soon become vulnerable. The definition of “value” is constantly evolving, as should we be. Data is becoming a bigger part of this value proposition and is not likely to diminish in importance any time soon. Have you accepted and embraced this fact? Leading the charge here?
Do they believe that you put their success above your own? Every time?
Have you fully immersed yourself in their business, making the monetary and time investment to make sure you are reading what they are reading? Speak their language? Understand their challenges? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This distinctive effort conveys caring.
Are you being seen for what you “know,” not just for what you are “selling”? There’s a big difference. Make sure it is both.
Do any examples of legendary service that you’ve performed on their behalf come to mind? Legendary enough for them to share with family, friends, or co-workers? If not, make one happen soon.
Are you professionally distinctive standing apart from the competition or are you floating around with them in a “sea of sameness.” Sameness is another word for mediocrity.
How many of the four key sales competencies do you excel at: knowledge, work ethic, relationships, and service? “Owning” one means being recognized by clients and competitors as being LeBron James “good.” Do you own one? Two?
We think of “value added” as something buyers request with an avail. Think of it differently, as what’s the professional “value added” that you bring to your clients each and every day, such that if you disappeared your clients would experience a huge media partner meltdown.
When I got in this business a hundred years ago, one of my goals was to be perceived by clients similarly to EF Hutton in this 1970s commercial, valued based upon professional expertise and missed if not there.
It’s absolutely worth spending some time thinking about these questions. Your answers, if honest, embraced, and acted upon, will control your destiny and income.
Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]