By: Jim Doyle
In my book, Prime Time: Transforming Your TV Sales Staff into a Sales FORCE, I write about the critical role General Managers play in high-performing sales staff. Frequently, the General Manager is the only person who can get the high level relationships we need to impact business. Even a simple phone call from the big boss to say ‘thank you’ can make a huge difference in the relationship with a client. And General Managers who are heavily involved with clients make a huge statement to their teams about the critical importance of customers.
Visibility of General Managers
Today, only a very few GM’s truly understand the role that they can play. I recently asked a Top 20 market GSM about the visibility of General Managers in his market. He said that two came from news and were invisible. (Probably his prejudice, as I’ve seen former News Directors who are incredible at this.) One was new to the market and was out on what he called “the apology tour” to try to fix some badly broken relationships. Only one was actively involved with clients. Is that market the exception? Sadly, it’s not. I think it’s actually pretty typical.
As leaders today, we’re looking at all these big things we can fix as we deal with a changing industry. And we should. But sometimes, the simplest thing can have the most impact, especially if you’re the station that does it first and best.
Are Your Customers Important?
It comes down to a pretty fundamental question. How important are customers in your life? Important, you say? Well, how does your calendar this week reflect that? How much time have you spent interacting with customers? How many clients have you called to say thank you?
And, how engaged are you with client results? We have to become new business machines, and the big miss in new business is how often a client comes on one time and goes away because the campaign didn’t work. That’s horrible… but it can be fixed.
It really comes down to whether you, as a General Manager, are going to be facing outward toward the market or facing inward. Are you focused exclusively on your product or also focused very much on your customers?
We’ll be in sad shape if the top leaders of our stations don’t know the people in their towns who are their largest customers. When a huge spender in a market tells me they have NEVER met a TV station General Manager, I find that astonishing. Yet, I hear it all the time.
The General Managers who do this well have a huge impact. When my friend, the late Ray Schonbak, came to FOX in San Diego he announced to his team, and to the market, that he would meet 100 clients in 100 days. What a huge statement that made. Ray was always out with clients. I recently met another GM who did something similar when she moved to a new market. She made a lot of friends.
Product or Customer Obsession
But isn’t it sad that the majority of GM’s might not have met 100 clients in their entire tenure in a market? Does that say something about us as an industry, when our leaders are more focused on the product than on customers? I think it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. We continue to act like our business is back in 1995. In times of abundance, growth and high demand, being obsessed by the product probably made some sense. Today, great leaders are still obsessed by the product, but are also obsessed by customers.
We need more of those kinds of General Managers. A lot more!
— See more at: http://www.jimdoyle.com/blog
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Doyle began his broadcasting career as a TV sales rep in Portland, Maine. During 30+ years in advertising and broadcasting, he has owned an advertising agency, been Director of Sales for a TV station group, and General Manager/part owner of a radio station. Jim has served as Chair of the TV-B Sales Training Committee. In 1991, he founded Jim Doyle & Associates, a sales training and management consulting firm, specializing in helping television sales reps and managers build successful partnerships with advertisers and significantly grow revenue. Jim has presented marketing workshops for business people in more than 500 cities, nationally. In addition to Prime Time, he’s the author of Don’t Just Make A Sale… Make A Difference: How Top Achievers Approach Advertising Sales; The Leaders Edge, a weekly coaching newsletter for television sales managers; and numerous audio and video programs, including UPGRADE Selling®; The ADvantage – Producing Ads that Renew; Significantly Increasing Dealer Ad Impact; and TVSales.101 – Succeeding in The Digital Age of Television – a basic selling program for new and veteran AE’s. He is a Certified Speaking Professional with the National Speakers Association.