When my boss was getting ready to travel overseas last week, little alarms went off in my head. There were notices on the Internet that international travel had some heightened risk; intelligence had picked up indications that terrorists might be planning some kind of attack. Embassies were being closed and alerts issued for international travelers.
I didn't think my boss and his family should NOT have gone, but the warnings were unsettling. I called him to share my unease, only to find out that he was barely aware of the alerts. He was busy focusing on loose ends at work and packing as the clock ticked ever closer to take-off. When he did take a look at the news, he realized there were some red flags that bore watching. He would pay more attention – be more watchful and allow more time for security to do its thing. And I would pay more attention – I would not just say adios for two weeks, but would remain aware of his itinerary and stay in communication.
Media sales managers sometimes get those unsettling feelings about an AE. We often ignore the warnings until we have to take action, either by hiring a replacement or helping that AE move out of our sales team and onto their next big adventure. Hindsight tells us the signs were there, but, like my boss, we are often too focused on the zillion other things that a sales manager has on their plate to recognize the signs, much less to do an in-depth analysis.
If you have a CRM and media sales analytics system like Efficio, the data required for analyzing AE performance is easy to pull. If you don’t have a CRM system, you may have to pull multiple reports from multiple places. Use this data to heighten your awareness of the effectiveness of each of your sellers:
- Look at their top billing accounts. Look at the last time these accounts were called on. These are your best customers, so your AE shouldn't be a stranger. People know when they were sold something (as opposed to buying a solution to a problem) and if the AE only darkens their door again at renewal time. Also, these customers should at the very least be offered the best marketing opportunities. If your AE is not in front of them offering them growth potential, these accounts are subject to attack from a competitor.
- Look at your AE’s top targets. These are the prospects that your AE has identified as having the most potential. The AE should have a plan of next steps to move this business through the sales funnel. If the majority of their top targets are stalled at a certain stage of the sales funnel, your AE may need more training on asking good questions, coming up with good solutions, or closing. If the AE doesn’t have a planned next step, it is a warning sign.
- Attrition from year to year should be accounted for. Check which accounts were on in the upcoming three months last year, but are not on in those same three months this year. Your AE should be able to explain which accounts are OOB, what buy was a one-time event, and which accounts are just buying bus boards this year. If there are too many accounts that were either forgotten about or you get that, “Yeah, I need to call them” response, it is an alert that your AE is not focused on their accounts.
- Collections should be under control. We all have that slow paying account and a handful that we have to stay on top of to get paid. But if an AE has a lot of accounts over 90, that is a sign that either they have trouble with business conversations with their clients, or they just don’t care. Either way, your seller might need clear direction, with you watching what happens next very carefully.
- There should be an average activity level. Be aware if this has dropped in the last couple of months. Sometimes the sales funnel gets clogged and an AE might have to focus some week more on closing or on more service. But, if you can see an AE’s calendar, or have a way to measure certain activities, you will find that when average activity level starts waning, sales follow two to three months later. Your seller may just need a push in the right direction, or they may be unfocused or burning out.
Be aware of your internal alarms and analyze the facts. You don’t want to find yourself in a department head meeting saying, “I should have seen the warning signs.”
Start planning now for that awesome sales contest that will get your whole sales team engaged and energized this fall!