The best thing you can do with your sales reps this summer is to involve them in a group brainstorming session about up-selling target accounts on their lists.
Sounds pretty easy right? Just pick out some accounts, put a package together, and pitch them. Wrong! If you really want to maximize these accounts, it takes a little more than the package-of-the-week - at least for most of them. Lest you think this is something that can be easily accomplished over a few drinks at the end of a long day, think again.
What you really need to do is involve all your reps, plus the program director and promotions manager, in the brainstorming session, flagging certain accounts that have the best potential to be up-sold. Any brainstorming worth doing is worth doing in a serious, productive way. Here are some suggestions:
Best 5: During your next one-on-one meeting with your sales reps, you and the rep agree on five of the best accounts that have the most potential to be upsold or, as we like to categorize them, move them from being a C client to a B, and a B client to A, the highest level in our account management system. You and the rep rate the five up-selling targets with a 1-through-5 priority (1 having the greatest potential or need).
Call the customer: Most of the targets will be accounts you already have on the air. You can target non-active accounts, but remember that our purpose here is to up-sell. The rep calls the customers to tell them they are one of five accounts that will be included in a special all-day brainstorming session with the goal of developing two or three new ideas that could increase the customer's R.O.I., foot traffic, or profitability - or do whatever else will solve the client's potential needs (we should already know them).
Criteria: Here are some things the reps must know in order for these accounts to qualify for the brainstorming session: the amount of money that is potentially available to up-sell; the client's current media spending and with what media; the client's current challenge, need, or opportunity; the decision- maker and any other influencers on the account. Reps must have account histories, including current schedules and any promotional activity, and a complete needs-analysis on each account (the rep just can't come in with an account and no background).
Brainstorming participants: Include all sales reps on staff, the sales manager, production director, promotion manager, and program director. You want all the people who could make a decision, especially if a promotion or cross-marketing idea might be involved.
Purpose: Identify your goal: e.g., an effective yearlong campaign (creative and scheduling) and/or increase in spending on the station(s).
Format: With a small group, this can be done in a morning, but a group of six or more people should have an all-day session with a lunch break. Each rep starts with his or her No. 1 target, relating the information from the criteria section. At least two ideas are required before moving to the next rep. After round one, you go to round two and begin the process again until you go through all five accounts from each rep. Some accounts will go quickly, while others will take more time. Make sure everyone is involved. The more everyone participates, the more ideas are generated.
After the brainstorming session, reps should pick the one of their five accounts that they think has the best chance to immediately up-sell, and immediately call that client to say the client has been selected for a 30-minute (maximum) presentation of the ideas generated by the group brainstorming session. This should be an attraction, as they were previously notified that they were one of the accounts selected for this special session. The client is told that there will be a presentation only of the ideas that came out of the session - no initial selling. If the client likes any of the ideas, then of course money can be discussed at that point.
One more thing: Make every effort to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere for the idea session. Pick a brainstorming date two weeks ahead so the reps can prepare and can do their due diligence on the target accounts. This systematic brainstorming session will be one of the best things you will do with your sales staff to generate incremental dollars from existing clients. It also brings together other station members with sales to make it a "Joint Chiefs of Staff" effort!