Sunday, November 15, 2009

Little Ideas Don't Solve Big Problems

I've been immersed in media for close to forty years and I am astounded at how profoundly sellers of traditional media have transformed their ways of doing business over those years. NOT! These advertiser supported sectors have not only allowed the commoditization of their products, but allowed the training of every generation of sellers, once the memorization of features and benefits of a program or format have been mastered, to master the computing of CPPs and CPMs. Because that is all these industries ask of the representatives, that's about all the professionalism they get with the great majority of their AEs. Now the good news, from a career point of view, is that most folk have little trouble meeting those limited expectations.

Many years ago, I began my broadcast sales career with WINS, all-news radio in New York. "WINS" had a remarkable and uncommon senior AE at the time named Jack McGann. While Jack made sure that he covered all the bases, and made media buyers' hearts flutter over lunch at the Four Seasons and Downing Square, he also had a roll-a-dex which included the 411 on probably one-third of the CMOs of the top Fortune 500 companies. I don't know if Jack played golf, with those CMOs, and I don't know if he took them to fancy lunches, but I do know that he behaved as if he were the right hand man, or partner, or, depending upon the matter at hand, the boss or mentor to each of them.

To Jack, it was all about the business he was trying to help...with his mastery of his medium, with a self-trained marketing mind and with an unquenchable thirst for ferreting out the issues his client was experiencing as obstacles to growth. Jack could CPM with the best of them...but most of his business was done with pricing as a formality that had to be dealt with, rather than the determinant of success or failure. The most interesting message I ever got from Jack was over a martini lunch during the first week of my new career. (We did that then, drank at lunch, that is). He said, "Congratulations on getting the job, Bob. If you show up five days a week, you'll have met all the criteria necessary to make a good living in a fun, and for some, prestigious industry, for the rest of your working life. It's like a union card." My observation over the years is that Jack was right on the money.

Traditional media has a real problem on its' hands now. With the proliferation of new platforms that technology has created to reach consumers, radio and television's share of the total advertising buy is unstable, at best. The sellers of new media have the advantages of both a new story to tell as well as ad agency and marketers insecurities about missing the boat by letting competitors gain a foothold with the new consumer channels. The still unmatchable roles both radio and television play in the marketing of goods and services is now often getting lost in the excitement over the "new." And these traditional industries, whose sellers had already settled for commoditized rather than value based rewards for its work, and goals of in-sector market share improvement over growing the market to be shared, find themselves in a tough place. Needless to say, the extraordinary economic position all industries find themselves in now, greatly exacerbates the problem.

So what are the new solutions being entertained by radio and television sales teams to meet these challenges head-on? What are the cultural changes these industries are adopting that will break through the traditional ties that bind? What are the transformative undertakings that will spotlight the remarkable ability of television and radio to build and enhance brands and encourage on the spot transactions? And thus greatly and appropriately, for the good of the advertiser, increase spending.

Let's start with what won't do it:
Health fares won't do it.
Two for ones won't do it.
Remotes won't do it.
Discounts for long term commitments won't do it.
Anybody have a good promotion for an insurance agency won't do it.

These are little--and very, very old ideas. They are though, the calling cards of most (and therefore average) sales organizations.

What will move the needle, at first slowly but surely, but then profoundly and quickly, is a shift in culture, strategy and planning that focuses on sales teams that work together to build customers businesses. Focus on that, not the competitor, not the CPP, not the share of business.
All of that takes care of itself when you are the sales executive (part of a sales organization) that works in partnership with the clients to help them grow their businesses. When you become the de facto CMOs, ad agencies and partners, working hard to identify opportunities and effectuate routes for their maximization on behalf of the client: When that becomes the reality of the team's work life, it will crack the code and solve its own problems.

Great Selling!

Love Your Work And Work Tirelessy
Serve, Don't Sell
Communicate Honestly and Fearlessy
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Available for Corporate and Individual Consultation and Training, as well as Motivational Speaking,

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