Jim Doyle & Associates Prime Time Leadership Blog

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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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.
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Accidental raises and other comp plan mistakes

On October 30, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

It happened this week. I was asked a question, yet again, that I probably hear 2-3x per month. “What are other stations doing with their comp plans that you like?”

I have to admit that I’ve seen more than a few AE comp plans. Some are incredibly simple. Others require a Ph.D. in Physics to understand. No matter what your plan, you’re probably not sure whether it’s good enough. Or, you have some belief that somewhere out in the universe there must be one that’s better.

It’s tough to get into the specifics of comp plans. Market size and market position can impact what’s right for your station, but there are some principles that drive how I would put a comp plan together. Here are a few for you to think about:

1.  Avoid the accidental raise.

I confess. This is a pet peeve of mine. The accidental raise is when an AE makes $10-15K more in a year, not because of anything he/she did, but because an agency they service picked up a big account. Everyone reading this email is expense conscious. We have to be today. We’re charged with carefully managing every dollar we spend, and yet, we’ll spend thousands more in commission to someone who’s done nothing to earn it. That bugs me.

2.  Is your comp plan aligned with your critical strategic sales goals?

 What's your #1 sales goal? I hope you didn’t say “making budget”!!! That’s not enough today.
Many of you would probably say that in today’s world it’s “new business.” If that’s the case, how’s your comp plan in sync with that? Today, a key measure of success is how we do at new business and I wonder if our comp plans make that clear enough.

Here’s what I typically see. A station pays X% on agency. They’ll pay a higher amount on direct, and often an even higher amount for new direct. Makes sense right? Maybe not. What if your AE makes a decent living from their current account list, without doing new? They’ll meet their needs, but it won’t help you meet yours. That’s a miss. You think the comp plan incentivizes the behavior you want, but with a significant number of your team, it doesn't.

Here’s another way to approach that. If new local direct business is a big priority, your AE’s should only earn their full commission on transactional IF they make their new local direct number. That way you've aligned their comp to your critical needs.

3.  Does your comp plan make a statement?

I once worked with a group that had a bunch of larger market TV stations. They paid 25% on new business. Do you think that made a statement?

I was a partner in some smaller market stations that had the same sales staff selling our D2 product. Today, I think I might pay a way bigger commission to make a statement to our team that might make them pay attention to those “tougher to sell” products.

Think of how your team would react if tomorrow you said, “We’ll pay you 50% of everything you bring in for this product.” Would that motivate some folks? We’d probably never pay that much, of course, but you get the point. It would sure get their attention, and sometimes that’s critical.

4. Selling is not a team sport.

I get it. You want to reward the staff if the station makes its local budget. And, I guess I’m okay with that if it’s a minuscule part of my income. But if it’s a significant percentage, that will frustrate your stars. They think others don’t pull their weight as much as they do. They feel like they’re busting their humps for you. So, why are they being penalized because someone, who probably should be fired, is pulling the team backward?

Paying a team bonus for budget is one of those ideas that should make sense, but have an honest conversation with your stars.

5.  K.I.S.S. sorta.

When I was drafting this article, I had “Keep it Simple Stupid” on my list because I see so many commission plans that are way too complicated. Then I realized that one of my favorite commission plans might be seen by many of you as pretty confusing.

That pay plan has quarterly priorities that change. Olympics, football or other tent poles might be on the list. Digital and new local direct are always part of it. Hitting budget for the D2. Maybe some special sales initiative. It seems complicated until you see it in action. It’s actually pretty straightforward for the AE’s because the plan stays consistent, even if some components change to reflect that quarter’s sales priorities.

This next comment might not be worth a full principle… I’d be sure that your comp plan doesn’t get vetoed by a business manager - who doesn’t have to make budget - because your plan is too complex. Having said that, simpler is better. Ask your AE’s to explain it back to you. If they can’t, you may have a problem.

6.  Reward results, not activity.

Sales managers should measure activity. That’s a basic. But don’t pay for it. That’s also a basic to me. There are no participation ribbons in sales.

As a favorite sales manager recently said to me, “We don’t confuse effort with success. We don’t make sales calls. We make sales.”

So, what’s my favorite comp plan? I’m not sure I have an exact answer. As I wrote above, it depends on market size and even market position.

Today, to avoid the accidental raise, I’d probably be paying some amount of salary to experienced AE’s for their transactional book. Yes, salary. (This from someone who grew up in this business with a “we eat what we kill” philosophy.) But the salary wouldn’t be enough to live on.

I’d also pay a big “get their attention" percentage for new local direct, especially if that’s an area at which you need to get better. However, I would ONLY pay a new business commission on sales that meet the minimum threshold to renew. That way, your comp plan drives the behavior of asking for bigger dollars and not rewarding one-time sales.

Then a monthly or quarterly bonus based on attaining 4-5 critical numbers, with more (125% of potential) if they make all 4-5 budgets and zero if they miss all. Tent pole sales, digital, D2 - all would have budgets. And those priorities might change quarterly.

At least that’s what I think I’d do today. But to be honest, I’ve changed my thinking so many times about this in the last 5 years that I could feel differently tomorrow.

I do know this, though. As our business is becoming more complicated, it’s likely we’ll be looking at this issue more and more 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.
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The sales role of a TV General Manager

On October 16, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

In today’s highly competitive TV sales environment, I believe that General Managers can no longer delegate the revenue responsibilities to sales management. They must be highly involved in the demand creation process, serving as the station’s CRO (Chief Revenue Officer).

Here are some of the things I think are important aspects of the “sales” role TV General Managers need to play in order for a station to be successful.

The Sales Role of the TV General Manager

1. Be heavily involved, personally, with the TV station’s KEY Accounts:

  • Develop a list of all accounts in the Top 25% in both Local and National spending. Have the list revised every six months.
  • Make 3 “how are we doing?” phone calls to KEY accounts each week.
  • Average one face-to-face meeting with a KEY account weekly. Cover all the station’s KEY accounts with a local decision-maker each year. These meetings are often simply “thank you” meetings.
  • Regularly send written thank you letters to the economic buyer at KEY accounts.
  • Inspect the sales departments efforts with KEY accounts each month.
  • Ask the GSM to provide written documentation of contact by the sales department with KEY accounts (articles, thank you notes, etc.). Meet to discuss monthly.

2. Set specific non-revenue sales goals with sales management each year. Possible examples:

  • Increase % of direct business to ___. 
  • Conduct diagnosis calls with EVERY KEY account during the 4th quarter of the year.
  • Add ___ # of AE’s to the staff before ________.
  • Have two sales promotions that add more than ______ in incremental revenue.
  • Local sales management on the street _____% of time. (I suggest 50% depending on market size.)
  • GSM on the street ______% of time. (I suggest 30% depending on market size.)

This is “top of the funnel” work that leads to revenue growth. Too  many times, our only goals are financial. That may not be indicative of the quality of the station’s sales efforts or sales management.

3. Have one-on-one meetings with the GSM that are a lot more robust than just a conversation about pending business and the status of tent pole events. Think about adding accountability for recruiting and some of the items above.

4. Personal involvement in at least one major sales presentation each month. (Great GM’s do more than this!)

5. Personally sell (or develop an idea that sells) an amount equal to your annual salary each year. I wrote about this in my book, Prime Time: Transforming Your TV Sales Staff into a Sales Force. It’s an idea I stole from a TV General Manager who didn’t have a sales background but realized that this was a great statement to make to his team. His corporate folks loved it as well.

6. Interview finalists for all AE positions before hiring. Remember, you’re hiring YOUR future, and every hire is critical today.

7. Participate in pricing meetings and join at least one sales meeting per month as an observer or to praise team or individual performance.

My colleague, JDA President John Hannon, writes often about "Engaged Management." The ideas above, and some you might add to the list, represent engaged management from a GM to a GSM. In the same way that General Managers watch the 6 PM newscast daily - which shows a level of engagement that reflects the new TV business - this new business also demands that GM’s are way more engaged in the revenue side of the business than many have been in the past.

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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Get out of the way

On October 02, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

As we look to re-orient our sales organizations to be more focused on demand creation than on demand management, leaders at every level need to re-examine what they’re asking their people to do that actually gets in the way of increased sales performance.Here are a few examples of what I mean:

I see too many stations where GM’s require multiple levels of sales management to be at the weekly department head meeting. Communication between departments and the GM are important, no argument there. But do you really need the GSM, LSM, and Digital lead in the same meeting? Remember, if they have a morning tied up because of your meeting, that’s a morning they can’t be on the street, which is really where we want them to be. Getting LSM’s on the street—in a coaching and observation mode, not just trying to rescue business or taking over a call—has to be a huge priority today. What obstacles are we creating that inadvertently keep this from happening?

Sales managers need to examine things they’re doing that also keep people off the street. Do you read every report you ask them for? Does the every morning “huddle” keep people from early calls? We know that our closing percentages on presentations we make in the morning are way higher than they are as the day goes on. So, encouraging your AE’s to schedule their presentations as early in the day as possible will increase your sales. But too many managers have things in place that keep that from happening. That’s worth looking at.

Sales meetings are essential. Because I’m such a huge believer in “sell in the morning, service and do paperwork in the afternoon,” I advocate that sales meetings happen on Monday mornings. (Business owners are just getting oriented on Monday mornings, as well, so that’s probably not the best presentation day!) When you schedule your sales meeting for Tuesday or another morning, you effectively reduce your best closing time by 25%. It wasn’t a big deal in a time when demand exceeded supply. But now?

At our Sales Manager's High Performance Boot Camp, we encourage sales leaders to schedule any other meetings in the PM. That way, I’ll have a weekly Monday AM sales meeting to start the week. But any brainstorming or training meeting has to happen in the afternoon.

Even corporate can help. When I speak at GM or GSM meetings, I always get a laugh when I describe the scenario. A corporate leader is watching TV on a Sunday when they see an ad for a pizza place. They start to wonder how much money they’re getting from pizza restaurants in their markets. They write one of those “all GM’s” emails to ask that question. By the time that gets passed down, it’s with a mandate that the GM must have that info by COB today. Multiply the work that takes by the number of markets you oversee, and you get a really clear idea of how much time got sucked out of your organization by a passing thought on a Sunday afternoon. Today, I think leaders (including myself in our company) have to ask if every request for info is really necessary or is what I’ll learn worth the time my people will give up to answer my request.

As I re-read this, I’m sure I’ve probably offended a few GM’s, a bunch of sales managers, and even a few of my corporate friends who hire our company. Why would I do that? Here’s the reason. Every week I hear a sales manager lament that they can’t get great people (a subject for another of these articles). We need more bodies on the street to be making more calls and creating more demand. No disagreement there. But what if I could reduce the obstacles I place on my salespeople and sales managers by 10%? If I have a sales staff of 10, I’ve just added the equivalent of another body, with no increase in expense.
We need more presentations.

We need to get our people in front of customers more times each week.

We need to work every month to increase our closing percentages.

And, we have to make sure we aren’t accidentally doing things that prevent this from happening.

What would I like to have you do as a result of this article? Ask your team what management could do to reduce things that keep them from the street. Ask those questions after explaining why it’s important, maybe even share this article. Then, really listen to the answers and honestly ask yourself if something you're doing is part of the problem or part of the solution. 

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Is your sales manager good enough for our new business

On September 12, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment
My goal in these bi-weekly columns is to provide ideas about how TV leaders get ready for very different business. So I write about a lot of things, from new business strategies, to culture, sales staff structure and so much more. 
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Are we honoring our real purpose?

On August 28, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

Many years ago, I had a cottage (more like a shack) in a small coastal Maine town.

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A confused buyer buys nothing

On August 14, 2017 / Uncategorized / Leave a comment

I think we are inadvertently shooting our new business efforts in the foot by making the purchase decision more confusing. The result? Closing percentages on new biz that are way too low.

How have we complicated the effort with new clients? By adding too many different elements for a potential client to decide upon. We make the decision overly complicated and that causes confusion for our potential new business clients. And confusion costs us sales.

Think about a typical new business presentation today:

  • Because the client is new to TV, we have to sell the power of TV to grow their businesses
  • We’re almost always adding a station-branded digital component. Pre-roll, display or impressions on our weather app
  • And now, most of us are also including a couple of digital services products

We think we’re providing a full marketing solution. That might be true. But the more things an AE puts in front of a client, the more likely they are to create confusion. And confusion leads to indecision.

So, how do we fix that? Simplify the decision-making process for new business presentations.

Here’s what we suggest:

  • Every presentation has a “WHY TV” component that sells the power of TV using success stories instead of numbers.
  • Take your station-branded digital (125,000 impressions on WXXX.com) and present that simply as a line in your schedule.

              -  4X weekly    Early Morning News

              -  4X weekly    Noon News

              - 125,000 Impressions   WXXX.com

  • It’s 2017. TV stations have been promoting their websites for over a decade now. We don’t have to spend a single minute talking about your site, and especially not about the usage statistics. It’s a line in the presentation. When presented, it’s described as an affordable way to get frequency, since our platforms reach our same viewers when they’re not available to watch the station.
  • On NEW business, narrow the pitch to just one digital services component. The only exception to that is when the presentation is a full digital presentation. We call this approach “plus one.” It recognizes that if we add more than one digital services component, we overly complicate the buyer’s decision.

I can hear some of the Digital Sales leaders howling in protest as they read this. Does this approach de-value our digital products? My answer is absolutely NO. In fact, it will increase your digital sales, and I have proof.

A few years ago, a station where I was a partner launched a full digital services agency. We had it all. So between a great Digital Sales leader and our management pressure to grow this part of our business, we’d put 2-3 digital services products into every new business presentation we made. Guess what? We watched our closing % on our new business presentations plunge.

We started to figure out what was going wrong and quickly adopted the “plus one” approach. We would sell a TV schedule that included branded digital (our call letters), plus one digital services component that we thought made great sense for the client.  What happened? Our closing percentages immediately went back up.

Plus, our digital business soared. Because “plus one” almost always turned into “plus many” once our very talented Digital Sales leader got involved with the client’s business. It turned out that the most effective way to add digital services revenue from new clients was to simplify the process. Our Digital Sales leader would quickly get the trust of the client as she helped them implement the first thing we suggested. Then, as she built trust, she could easily expand the number of digital products they used.

We built a significant digital business in a very short time by having an aggressive new business effort and simplifying the buying process.

One note: I have used the words new business client multiple times in this article. The most complicated sales presentations we make are to new clients. That’s where simplifying is required the most. You don’t need to be as mindful of the “plus one” when you have a long-term relationship. That client deserves your best thinking on the digital piece of their marketing program. However, when a client is new, think about how you can make the buying process simpler.

One of my earliest sales jobs was working summers and holidays selling jewelry for a small chain. There was a very quick way to get in trouble with the bosses. That was to keep too many choices on the counter. They taught us that if a customer looked at a new engagement ring, we were to make sure that the one they had seen went back in the counter. They realized that if the customer had too many choices, it would make the decision-making process harder.

Everyone reading this is making new business more and more of a priority, and that effort will only intensify in the next few years. We’ll be making significantly more new business presentations. Let’s not screw things up by over-complicating our sales process. Don’t have too many diamond rings on the counter!!!! Keep it simple!!! Then watch your closing % go up! 

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