No matter how old I get or at what stage I am in my life, I always get excited, and even a bit apprehensive, this time of year. No matter what the calendar says, it still seems like back-to-school time is truly the beginning of the year. It is a time for new pens and clean notebooks, along with new goals and clean slates.
Whether you are a senior media salesperson or a freshman on the sales team, this is a great time to take a look at yourself and ask yourself, are you Old School or New School? Both approaches bring benefits, as well as baggage. Instead of wearing your Old School or New School badge proudly, take a hard look at what Old School ideas you may be clinging to that can be left behind in the coming year, and what New School attitudes may be holding you back.
This week, let’s look at Old School; we'll tackle New School next week.
If you are Old School and proud of it, consider these points:
- Technology is out there, and it is not going to go away. Dependence on technology is only going to speed up. You would be pretty ticked off if you still got your messages from the receptionist on pink slips of paper, and you sure don’t want to carry that bag phone around. You have probably embraced cell phone technology, so leap on into the 21st century and get online. Use your CRM system to track your accounts and related activities. Don’t spend an hour writing fiction to your managers in the form of a number at which you intend to finish the next three months – use your computer, tablet and media sales analytics software to send yourself reminders and to pull those reports anytime, anywhere. Embrace changing technology. You are missing the bus if you don’t.
- Recognize that the day of the media salesperson isn’t what it once was. Technology and hard times have resulted in smaller staffs and thus less support for the media seller. You are probably doing your own presentations, account requests, reports – all of those things that a sales assistant used to do to help you. There are fewer leisurely lunches and less time for the “business golf game.” You are working harder, yes, so work smarter using the tools you do have, like technology.
- Embrace your manager’s and/or company’s sales strategies. If you now have a sales consultant, understand that they are paid to help you make more money. If your company requires x number of new business calls, that approach is designed to help you make more money. If your sales manager wants to measure progress through a certain report, understand it is there to help you make more money. See a pattern here?
- Focus on the customer, and not your needs and goals. Come up with advertising ideas and solutions for them, not just packages designed to sell your excess inventory. The days of “How many spots do you want to run next week?” are over. The days of campaigns involving an event sponsorship for targeted exposure coupled with a web and on-air campaign are here.
- Grow. School is back in session and will be, semester after semester. If you're not comfortable with technology, take a class or a refresher course. If you haven’t raised your goals – be they financial or in terms of the number of new direct customers you reach out to each week, stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask your New School teammates for help with proposal creation or creative ways to reach customers. They will, in turn, appreciate your wisdom when they need help and advice.
No one wants to hear “But this is the way we have always done it!” Be sure your Old School ways don’t have you staying after school.
Next week – some thoughts for you New School-ers in media sales.