The Coronavirus Crisis: Some Longer Term Thinking

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By Jim Doyle and Angela Betasso

As the news stories continue to outline a world very different from what any of us have ever seen, we wonder if it’s time for leaders in our business to take a longer view.

In our UPGRADE Selling® training, we teach AE’s about the critical importance of KEY accounts. These are the Top 25% of your clients who give you 70-75% of your local revenue. They are the absolute CORE of your business.

We suggest making a list of those clients on the local side of your business. Some on that list will be totally transactional, with little or no local decision-making authority. Others may be the “buy it cheap, lots of frequency” grinders, important for our revenue but difficult.

And, also on that list are truly good partners. Business owners whom you want to succeed. Business owners whom you want to be in business with long after this temporary situation has passed. On that list might be a large car dealer group… a local furniture retailer… some healthcare providers or larger PI attorneys. These may be your most important clients. They’re local, and the decision maker is accessible. Helping them get through this challenging time might be as critical as anything you do in ensuring your revenue quickly bounces back when the situation changes.

When I (Jim) was a young sales manager, one of our largest local clients—a carpet retailer—had a fire that burned their location to the ground. A few days later, they re-opened in a tent, and then found a small temporary space for the year. Our boss instructed their sales rep and me to visit them and tell them we’d continue to run ads for them—at no charge—where we could. For the next 6 months, we did. Does it surprise you that for the next dozen years our station got 100% of their advertising? The station reached out with a helping hand when that client was lower than low, and the client never, ever forgot.

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That particular example isn’t relevant to every one of your KEY accounts, and we’re well aware that times have changed for our industry. Most companies are now focused on quarters, not years. But when we start thinking long-term, we start asking the question, “How can we help you?” We start to focus on truly serving this group of accessible larger accounts, who might be going through the battle of their business lives.

We submit that serving those accounts we want to continue to be in business with for years to come is a healthy business decision. And, likely we’ll build incredible loyalty in the process because, almost always, doing good turns out to be good for business. That help can take on a variety of different forms, on a variety of platforms.

So, pull out your local KEY account list—the narrowed one of larger, truly local clients with local owners and decision makers. Start calling them now, keeping in mind that this is a call best made by the senior leader at a station. Ask them two questions:

  1. “How are you dealing with this?”
  2. “How can we help?”

It may be advertising, it may be to share a newsworthy story on your platforms, or just a link to your website’s COVID-19 information… you won’t know until you call. Of course, be prepared by doing some thinking on what you might be able to do to make them more successful during this incredible time. If it’s inventory on one of our platforms, wouldn’t we rather use it to help someone local to survive this time—someone who knows our name and our brand, and who values us.

While we’re on the subject of valuing our local KEY accounts, there’s another group we need to value as we consider our long-term health… our account executives. The sellers, and especially the stars, who are navigating these choppy waters to keep revenue demand on us. Let’s make sure we’re also taking care of them during this time.

Have a Group, Corporate, General Manager or Sales Manager meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle speak at your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a SALES FORCE? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at or call 941-926-SELL