Thoughts from the road

For the last month or more, I’ve been on the summer tour of TV markets. No T-shirts to sell, but I’ve had a blast, and had time for lots of great conversations with managers and AE’s about our business. That always stimulates me!! 

So, here’s what I’ve been thinking about and it’s not all about our business.

  • The most thought-provoking line of the summer was said by a very smart sales manager in a mid-sized market. He said, “Clients used to be wowed by television. Today, they’re wowed by the quality of the solution.”

If you agree with that statement… and I surely do… I think there are serious implications for the way we train our AE’s, the tools we give them, and the sales approach we take.

How strongly do I agree with this? Our company’s consultants will make close to 5000 sales calls and will close $45-50 million in Digital and TV business. We believe that nearly 80% of that is closed based on the strength of the idea we bring.

Understanding this is going to be more and more important to our future. More on this subject soon.

  • I’ve been in three conversations lately with people at stations where they’ve either already redeployed some of their NSM’s time to overseeing AE’s in a local sales manager role or are considering doing it. As national continues to slip, smaller stations will likely eliminate the NSM role. Many already have. And, larger markets will use that person differently than they are now.
  • The reason this makes sense is that as demand drops, leaders will be working way harder to look at which factors will have the most impact on increasing demand. One thing that increases demand is the number of people selling your inventory. Sales staff sizes need to get bigger. But one LSM can’t effectively oversee more than 8-9 AE’s, especially when a couple of them are newbies.
  • My favorite new app? Tripit. I forward every flight, hotel, and rental car confirmation to this site and it creates an itinerary for each trip, accessible through the app on my phone. I had a TV group sales leader tell me about it. I’m hooked.
  • Medium and small market stations used to say, “Control production and you control the account.” I have a sense that this is being replaced by “Control digital and you control the account.” We all hate the crappy margins in our digital services business, but one benefit of providing those services is the ability to be more deeply integrated with the client.
  • A full day at our January Sales Manager’s Boot Camp will be dedicated to recruiting and retaining the absolute best team. That’s an absolute requirement for today’s sales leaders.

Here’s one thing we’ll be talking about. After you’re convinced you want to hire a manager, it’s critical that you build a formal, written “why work for us” presentation that outlines the opportunity, the training, the leadership philosophy, and the career growth opportunity. And, like a great client presentation, this should be customized to the person you want to hire, based on age, career and life goals, and other things you’ve learned about them in the interview process. After they sell you, you have to sell THEM.

  • I have to believe that Tegna’s move to take representation in-house won’t be the last time we see that announcement, as consolidation continues to unfold. Gray has already done it and believes it’s been hugely successful. Apollo gets a rep firm as they scale up.
  • I’m astounded at the amount of energy I continue to have, even as I get close to 70. The exercise program is important, but even more impactful is my now-daily meditation practice. Slow down to go fast. Two apps to help.  Download “Calm” or “Insight Timer.”
  • I also feel incredibly lucky to love our business and love what we do. Even with our challenges and the changing times, this is still way more fun than having a real job. Except maybe during budget season. Ugh.

I love your comments and ideas. Send a note to I look forward to continuing the conversation.

A full day at our Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp in January 2020 will be focused on getting and keeping the best team. At the end of that day, sales leaders will have a specific plan to attract the best possible sellers to their team. Interested in Boot Camp? Check it out at Early sign-up discounts are now available.