Jim Doyle & Associates Prime Time Leadership Blog

The critical hour each week

On March 26, 2018 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment


One of the most important things top sales leaders must do is to deal with the underperformers on your team. You’ll never get "A" results with "C" players, and as our business gets harder, today’s C player is a D in a couple of years. 

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Creating our future. Are we making a huge mistake?

On March 12, 2018 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment
“We are always moving in the direction of the things we think about most.” Years ago, when I picked up Denis Waitley’s book, The Psychology of Winning, that idea was one of the most powerful lessons I learned. It continues to be a significant concept for me today.

Waitley taught me to be aware of my self-talk. Because self-talk tends to become self-fulfilling prophecy. When someone says, “I always get a cold in the summer,” they will. If I grab an old ball out of my bag on the Par 3 hole over the water, it’s a safe bet I’m about to lose that ball. My thoughts determine my action.

 So maybe… just maybe… when an industry says there’s no way core revenue is going to grow, they’ll be right. A self-fulfilling prophecy!! But does it have to be that way?

I listened to a bunch of the corporate earnings calls in the last few weeks, and it’s pretty clear we’re struggling with core revenue growth. That’s likely going to be the case when we report Q1 as well, unless you’re an NBC station with the lift from the Olympics and Super Bowl. 

I’m convinced we don’t have to accept that as our new reality. But it will take two things. The first is a renewed energy of leaders for the power of our product. “You can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery.” A smart CRO helped me with this recently when he said, “We focus on the wrong things. Sure, the Super Bowl ratings were down a little (about 3%), but we still had 103 Million people watching the game.” In fact, the 2018 Super Bowl was the 10th most-watched program in the ENTIRE history of TV. Funny, that fact didn’t get any publicity, did it? 

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_watched_television_broadcasts_in_the_United_States)

And, it’s not just about the big ratings events. At Jim Doyle & Associates, every week we see it in the amazing results that the combination of digital and TV are delivering for clients. Like the Midwestern car dealer who came back to TV last November and had a 139% increase in sales the next month. We’ll make over 5000 sales calls this year with advertisers all over America, and I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that our core product, when used correctly, is still the most powerful form of communication ever invented. And that power gets magnified by our ability to pair digital tools with our core TV product. 

The real issue is… do you believe it? Are you transferring that belief (and passion) to the people you lead? That’s the first piece, but that isn’t close to enough to really move the needle.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It’s not enough to be a cheerleader for our product. Leaders have to have a plan that reflects the reality of our times. I use this space most weeks to talk about some of things that need to be in your plan.

Today’s leaders:
    - Must have a plan to put their new business efforts on steroids. We control this. It’s not based on ratings or the whim of an agency. This is all ours!! 

   - We MUST no longer accept average sellers. The person on our team who’s a C player today is a D- player in three years as the business gets harder. You won’t win today’s game with a staff of average. That means recruiting needs to be on every leaders’ weekly calendar. 

  - We have to be more focused than ever on the real customers (not their agencies) and on customer results. We’ve had an amazing run servicing agencies, but in the new TV business we have to return to being customer-facing. We need to be absolutely committed to getting measurable results for our clients.

I understand that it’s easy to pontificate in a column like this. Yes, I have the easy job. But I believe with every fiber of my being that we have to be careful not to create a low growth/no growth environment because we've lowered our expectations. 

Passionate belief in our product combined with a plan. That’s the recipe for leaders who don’t want to settle, and those leaders are my heroes.

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A letter to sales managers

On February 19, 2018 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

Dear Sales Manager,

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Customer service

On February 05, 2018 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

I am a frequent flyer—almost 2 million miles on Delta, platinum status on American, even a bunch of flights each year on Southwest. And, I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that there’s a huge difference between the service of airlines. It's very significant between Delta and American.

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Slow down to go fast!

On January 22, 2018 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

I spent part of my Holiday break reading a great book called Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris.

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New Year's resolutions for GM's

On January 08, 2018 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

“If we fail to change the world goes on. We just become increasingly irrelevant.” -Dr. Jim Davis

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A Holiday Story Worth Remembering

On December 18, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

I first shared this story of an extraordinary Hertz employee in a Christmas 2004 issue of The Leaders Edge, the Jim Doyle & Associates management coaching program. I’ve recounted it many times since then, and it has also been circulated to Hertz employees around the Southeast. I hope you enjoy reading it.

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Sample - How To Post

On December 11, 2017 / Insider / Leave a comment
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Reducing Digital Churn

On December 04, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

In the last year, we’ve been in lots of conversations with leaders about the high percentage of churn in many of our digital service businesses. When churn numbers are sometimes close to 50%, it’s impossibly hard to maintain solid growth in this part of our business. That’s a big issue, as many have hoped to offset the slow/no growth of our core business with more robust growth in digital services. 

What’s causing this high churn? I’m sure there are dozens of reasons. But from the perspective of a company that spends a whole lot of time interacting with AE’s and Digital Managers, let me offer three things I think are a huge part of this problem. There's no attempt here to order these by priority, and I'm positive many of you can add things to this list, but I think each of these things is significant. 

1. AE’s, even digital leaders, who don’t understand which marketing principles should drive the digital tools a client uses. 

This means that clients are all too frequently being sold solutions to problems they don’t have, and not being sold the things that could really make a difference in their business. 

Linked to this is the tendency to sell the client the newest and brightest product because we’re energized about it. An example… I love what geo-fencing can do. In the right situation, it’s a powerful targeting product. But when geo-fencing started getting hot two years ago, we saw dozens of situations where a client had been sold geo-fencing by an AE who loved it but didn’t understand whether it made sense for his/her particular client. 

How to solve this problem? Start by being really clear about identifying the marketing priority of a client. Do they have a basic awareness problem? Here are the specific products that might fit with that. Need help separating yourself from your competitors? These products would be in the sweet spot for that. Promoting an event that might help you take customers away from a competitor? Use these products. Have a dealer with a pump in/pump out imbalance? These are the products that might help them. Truth be told, there are only about 8-10 basic marketing challenges that show up in the 5000+ sales calls Jim Doyle & Associates will make this year. So this isn’t as big an undertaking as it seems. But it needs leadership that sees the significance of this and is driven to try to fix it. It won’t happen on its own. 

This is part of the ongoing effort to make our digital services business more customer-focused than product-focused. This is way more than teaching AE’s how to do a solid business diagnosis call. It’s helping all involved to understand what products to suggest once you determine each client’s specific marketing needs.
 
2. We need to ask for more money for our digital products. 

Serious money = Serious results. Little money = Little results. That’s a basic principle of all advertising. If I were leading digital sales, I’d be analyzing my churn by spending level. I’m going to guess that just like with our core TV product, your churn will be a much higher percentage when clients are spending a small amount and will go down as spending increases. We have way too many clients spending peanuts on our digital service products. 

But there’s an elephant in the room on this subject. Our sellers are straddling a line between wanting to sell more digital, but at the same time, not wanting to take money from their core TV spending. I can also tell you, without equivocation, that many, many sellers don’t believe in the power of these products the way they do the core TV products. This causes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We continue to sell clients a mix of products that put 90-95% of the money on TV. So guess what? The digital part doesn’t perform as well. Little money = Little results. 

This is a complicated issue to solve since most of our digital services revenue comes from existing TV advertisers. I’ve seen stations solve it with incredibly talented digital sales managers, who are focused on looking at comprehensive solutions for clients. These digital leaders are passionate about their products and are experts at accountability. And, they’re not afraid to ask for bigger dollars and push their reluctant AE’s to step up their asks. 

An educated guess? I think smart, effective, client-focused digital sales managers might really be the key difference between high-churn and low-churn stations. They’re hard to find, so we’ll need to grow more. 

3. The client wants to cancel their digital spending. What do we do?

Let’s be honest. I’m an AE with a $100,000 client and $12,000 is digital —not our O and O inventory but digital service products. My client calls me concerned about the results of their digital. They want to cancel. It’s a rare AE who will argue with the client about that because they’re afraid it might jeopardize the bigger piece of the money. So we take a cancellation without pushing back. 

This problem may be the easiest to solve. We have to get better at mandating regular reporting on the results that digital schedules are getting. The power of digital is accountability. I can keep a client sold with regular, perhaps monthly, reporting and discussions married to making changes when the results suggest a new approach has to be taken. I think we have too many AE’s who set up schedules, both TV and digital, and don’t check in often enough with the client. That’s dangerous. And on digital, it will absolutely increase your churn. Don’t plug and play. 

There’s a huge business reason to pay attention to the amount of digital churn and work hard to get it lower. We have a massive opportunity in this part of our business. It’s not just the digital revenue in play. A powerful digital services component allows us to truly become a marketing partner with our clients, and that has lots of impact on our traditional TV spending as well. But if we can’t get the churn lower, we’ll be chasing our tails, needing to replace a huge part of our business every year, just to stay even. 

And that’s not going to get us where we need to be.


Jim Doyle and the JDA team are passionate about helping sales managers get better. One of the ways they do that is the Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp. This program gets rave reviews with a combination of real-world ideas and inspirational outside speakers. Our next Boot Camp is in Tampa, January 2018. More info: Boot Camp 2018 

There may be no better investment you can make in your future than to help your sales manager to get better.
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What this week’s earnings reports say to me

On November 13, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

In headline after headline last week, we saw the publicly traded companies share their quarterly earnings reports, and there was a consistent pattern. Take out last year’s summer Olympics and core revenue is basically flat across the industry, maybe up just a tad.

That’s in a GREAT economy, with nearly full employment, a booming stock market, and so far not much disruption from an auto slowdown that we think is on the way. Could it be that these will be the good old days?

If a flat business doesn’t bother you, you should probably go back to paying attention to Sunday Night Football. But I know a lot of the leaders in our industry, and flat revenue bothers the hell out of them. It bothers me, as well.

In the simplest terms, we’re in a time of change. Actually, it’s been going on for a little while now. We used to be a business where demand exceeded supply. Like many of you, I grew up in that TV business. It was easy to be brilliant. Now, I realize that I wasn’t as smart as I thought - I just had great timing.

Today, it’s the opposite. We have way too much supply and not enough demand, especially in a year with no political or Olympics. If you look at the significant drop in national and the ongoing slippage of our auto revenue, 2017 is the year where the reduction of demand is becoming especially obvious.

Lower demand is scary because an entire market starts to scramble for the available business. When I share with a group of managers that the TV business “manages to take a 5% reduction in demand and successfully negotiate it into a 15% reduction in our business,” I hear a laughter of identification.

So, at all levels of our business—sales managers, general managers, and corporate—our focus needs to be on how we can increase demand.

The Demand Factors:

1. Ratings. As sales leaders, we have little control over this one. But, like many of you, I’ve worked for dominant stations and those that are “ratings-challenged.” There’s no question there’s more demand for the dominant station. Great ratings create demand for sure.

2. Owning KEY accounts. These are the station’s largest accounts. If you have truly built partnerships with the actual decision makers here, that has impact.

3. The size of your sales staff. Many reading this remember when Mel Karmazin took over the CBS TV stations in the late 90’s and forced them to double the size of their sales staffs. I thought there were lots of flaws in how they did that, mostly because it became a “survival of the fittest” with little training, but Mel was inherently right. Ten people will produce more demand for your inventory than five. Having a bigger sales staff is a huge demand factor. What’s your plan?

4. Structural sales staff changes, with a goal of increasing sales call numbers. I applaud the groups that are looking for ways to do this. One major company is adding back sales assistants to help AE’s get out more. Many have moved the non-DMA local business away from local AE’s to free them up for more development time.

5. Superior AE selling skills. If your people can’t sell, then adding more AE’s and restructuring to increase call counts is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I think this is a real biggie. Because the last 20 years in our business have been so focused on demand management, rather than demand creation, most of the AE’s in our business today simply aren't anywhere near strong enough at the basics of selling. Some companies are already focused on this and my sense is we’ll all need to ramp up this effort even more. It should be a priority for everyone.

6. Management relationships with clients. Ever compete with a station where the management is deeply connected to a lot of clients? It’s a real demand factor and one on which we can work. Regular readers of my commentary know I strongly believe in GM’s and sales managers spending more time out of the office interacting with clients. This is why. It can help you increase your demand.

7. Quality production. Not pretty production, but having a team with the ability to produce ads that work and therefore renew. Here’s one of the saddest things I see. A client new to TV doesn’t get the results they deserve because production produces pretty ads that don’t sell. This is a fixable problem.

8. Customer-focused digital sellers. A decade ago, our digital people were usually brought into a client by that client’s current TV rep. Today, I see more and more situations where it’s the opposite. Let’s face it. Digital services is becoming more and more a commodity business. That makes smart digital sellers, who truly understand how to solve client marketing problems and are also great communicators, critical. We have massive churn in our digital products (a subject for another article), but when a station has a great digital sales team, they create client loyalty. And loyalty is a demand factor for sure.

9. Promotional selling. We have to create revenue with great ideas. I know of stations that create ideas for big industrial accounts. Another has experimented with someone who knows how to access grant money. Another station encourages their AE’s to get creative with a cause they personally feel strongly about. Promotional selling today is way more than creating a Holiday retail package or selling your one-hour special 4x a year. Every station will need to have a budget for this kind of selling as we go forward.

10. A new business program that’s on steroids. Do you think you’re good at new business now? How would you double that? It’s not just about increasing the number of calls. It’s also about working to get higher closing percentages and to increase opening order size, and making sure that a big piece of the compensation for everyone in management is tied to success in this area.

11. Creating an UPGRADE mentality. Our Jim Doyle & Associates training program is called UPGRADE Selling®. We believe that the easiest way to grow revenue is from existing clients. We’re fanatics about new business and we teach AE’s how to ask for bigger dollars in new business than they’re comfortable with. But if you asked me for the quickest way to grow revenue, it’s from existing clients who already believe in TV and your stations, and have a relationship with your people. But that will not happen without a plan.

That’s my list. I’m sure you might put other things on it, but the real question is what should you do as a result of moving towards managing the demand factors you can control?

A simple exercise might be to work with your sales management team on a “Demand Creation SWOT” exercise - Strengths… Weaknesses… Opportunities… Threats.

Some of the things on this list (and anything you might add)…
  -What are we doing well?
  -What do we need to improve?
  -What should make us nervous?
  -What of the Demand factors would give us the biggest lift in sales?

The business growth guru, Dan Kennedy, always says, “Little action=Little results. Massive action=Massive results. That was his advice to the entrepreneurs he coached in the recession and it’s my advice to my TV colleagues today. Kennedy believes we have more control over our destiny than we think. You can call me an optimist, but I agree with him.

We can continue to take relatively incremental steps to solve the demand creation problem, but this week’s earning reports suggest we might want to step it up. We’ve got 14 months before we hit 2019. Most of us will have a great 2018, so that gives us a window to get a whole lot better at creating the demand we’ll need to help grow our revenue in the future.


Jim Doyle and the JDA team are passionate about helping sales managers get better. One of the ways they do that is the Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp. This program gets rave reviews with a combination of real-world ideas and inspirational outside speakers. Our next Boot Camp is in Tampa, January 2018. More info: Boot Camp 2018 

There may be no better investment you can make in your future than to help your sales manager to get better.
Read More