A general manager we consult was preparing to present his goals to his station's owner. He had identified his number one goal, but he also wanted a number two goal. That year, the station had increased its cash flow by $300,000 over the previous year, and he wanted his number one goal to be the dream he'd had since becoming GM five years ago - hitting $1 million in cash flow.
I told him he was wrong: He didn't have his number one goal yet, and his cash flow goal should be number two on his list. Incredulous, he asked me point-blank what I thought he could do better than hit that $1 million mark.
Before I tell you my response, consider the following:
How much training do you provide your sales reps? Automatic Data Processing (ADP) is the number one check-writing service in America. (Paychex is number two.) The company's ITP (initial training program) for new reps consists of 14 weeks of training before they ever hit the street. Once they're out in the field, every ADP rep brings to every business call a folder that collects information much like our CMP (customer marketing profile) folders. ADP goes a step further, however, in that they specialize with different CMPs for different categories of business, such as banks and accounting firms. (For a CMP or ITP, e-mail me at the address below.)
Questions For Your Sales Staff For The Next Year
- What percentage are you up in revenue for the current year?
- Have you strategically planned next year, with each account rep focusing on each client and prospective account?
- Have you laid out a plan on your top 50 accounts for increasing revenue by a minimum of 20 percent?
- Do you go into each month with 80 percent or more of your goal on the books?
- How much of your business is done with annual contracts?
- How could you improve what you have?
- Are Yellow Pages, radio, and TV eating up the budget that should be on your media property?
- Do your account reps use a Buyers Awareness Cycle to plan annual campaigns?
- What new business development ideas are you going to incorporate into your selling system for this year?
- Do you get asked-for return on investment with the media budget from your clients?
- Do you have a way to measure, source, and track your media property schedules?
What matters most - share or cash flow? Arguments abound over which is more critical, but I say cash flow. Share can be bought, and at the end of the day you can't control many of the factors involved with controlling your share of revenue in the market. Do you set your inventory pricing based on what your competitor is doing, or do you price based on what you're selling and how much of it?
Do you coach your sales reps? Are you really coaching them, or do you rear back and take over the call? Most sales reps learn by doing and by having the sales manager coach them after the call. If Peyton Manning was never allowed to throw an interception, I doubt he would have ever learned to throw a touchdown.The same applies to your sales reps. Do you have an upcoming year in-field coaching guideline and checklist for each of your reps? (E-mail me for an example.)
How often do you conduct sales training? At ADP, reps sell four days a week. Friday is dedicated to sales training. I wonder if they're onto something. Do you have a set curriculum for the first six months of next year laid out so your reps know what to expect in training next year?
Okay, enough mystery. What was the number one goal for the general manager at the beginning of this article? If you've been paying attention, you would have guessed that it was sustaining and developing his salespeople into the most knowledgeable, problem-solving sales force in the market. His number two goal was to hit that
million-dollar cash flow dream, but you can't put that number two goal in front of the number one goal. It just won't work.
Are you and your sales force prepared for the upcoming year? The landscape is changing every day in media sales. Are you helping your sales reps to be more innovative in improving their selling skills and techniques? Maybe it's time to get your entire staff into a sales meeting and answer the questions your clients are asking.You might be surprised.