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It happened this week. I was asked a question, yet again, that I probably hear 2-3x per month. “What are other stations doing with their comp plans that you like?”

I have to admit that I’ve seen more than a few AE comp plans. Some are incredibly simple. Others require a Ph.D. in Physics to understand. No matter what your plan, you’re probably not sure whether it’s good enough. Or, you have some belief that somewhere out in the universe there must be one that’s better.

It’s tough to get into the specifics of comp plans. Market size and market position can impact what’s right for your station, but there are some principles that drive how I would put a comp plan together. Here are a few for you to think about:

1.  Avoid the accidental raise.

I confess. This is a pet peeve of mine. The accidental raise is when an AE makes $10-15K more in a year, not because of anything he/she did, but because an agency they service picked up a big account. Everyone reading this email is expense conscious. We have to be today. We’re charged with carefully managing every dollar we spend, and yet, we’ll spend thousands more in commission to someone who’s done nothing to earn it. That bugs me.

2.  Is your comp plan aligned with your critical strategic sales goals?

 What’s your #1 sales goal? I hope you didn’t say “making budget”!!! That’s not enough today.
 
Many of you would probably say that in today’s world it’s “new business.” If that’s the case, how’s your comp plan in sync with that? Today, a key measure of success is how we do at new business and I wonder if our comp plans make that clear enough.

Here’s what I typically see. A station pays X% on agency. They’ll pay a higher amount on direct, and often an even higher amount for new direct. Makes sense right? Maybe not. What if your AE makes a decent living from their current account list, without doing new? They’ll meet their needs, but it won’t help you meet yours. That’s a miss. You think the comp plan incentivizes the behavior you want, but with a significant number of your team, it doesn’t.

Here’s another way to approach that. If new local direct business is a big priority, your AE’s should only earn their full commission on transactional IF they make their new local direct number. That way you’ve aligned their comp to your critical needs.

3.  Does your comp plan make a statement?

I once worked with a group that had a bunch of larger market TV stations. They paid 25% on new business. Do you think that made a statement?

I was a partner in some smaller market stations that had the same sales staff selling our D2 product. Today, I think I might pay a way bigger commission to make a statement to our team that might make them pay attention to those “tougher to sell” products.

Think of how your team would react if tomorrow you said, “We’ll pay you 50% of everything you bring in for this product.” Would that motivate some folks? We’d probably never pay that much, of course, but you get the point. It would sure get their attention, and sometimes that’s critical.

4. Selling is not a team sport.

I get it. You want to reward the staff if the station makes its local budget. And, I guess I’m okay with that if it’s a minuscule part of my income. But if it’s a significant percentage, that will frustrate your stars. They think others don’t pull their weight as much as they do. They feel like they’re busting their humps for you. So, why are they being penalized because someone, who probably should be fired, is pulling the team backward?

Paying a team bonus for budget is one of those ideas that should make sense, but have an honest conversation with your stars.

5.  K.I.S.S. sorta.

When I was drafting this article, I had “Keep it Simple Stupid” on my list because I see so many commission plans that are way too complicated. Then I realized that one of my favorite commission plans might be seen by many of you as pretty confusing.

That pay plan has quarterly priorities that change. Olympics, football or other tent poles might be on the list. Digital and new local direct are always part of it. Hitting budget for the D2. Maybe some special sales initiative. It seems complicated until you see it in action. It’s actually pretty straightforward for the AE’s because the plan stays consistent, even if some components change to reflect that quarter’s sales priorities.

This next comment might not be worth a full principle… I’d be sure that your comp plan doesn’t get vetoed by a business manager – who doesn’t have to make budget – because your plan is too complex. Having said that, simpler is better. Ask your AE’s to explain it back to you. If they can’t, you may have a problem.

6.  Reward results, not activity.

Sales managers should measure activity. That’s a basic. But don’t pay for it. That’s also a basic to me. There are no participation ribbons in sales.

As a favorite sales manager recently said to me, “We don’t confuse effort with success. We don’t make sales calls. We make sales.”

So, what’s my favorite comp plan? I’m not sure I have an exact answer. As I wrote above, it depends on market size and even market position.

Today, to avoid the accidental raise, I’d probably be paying some amount of salary to experienced AE’s for their transactional book. Yes, salary. (This from someone who grew up in this business with a “we eat what we kill” philosophy.) But the salary wouldn’t be enough to live on.

I’d also pay a big “get their attention” percentage for new local direct, especially if that’s an area at which you need to get better. However, I would ONLY pay a new business commission on sales that meet the minimum threshold to renew. That way, your comp plan drives the behavior of asking for bigger dollars and not rewarding one-time sales.

Then a monthly or quarterly bonus based on attaining 4-5 critical numbers, with more (125% of potential) if they make all 4-5 budgets and zero if they miss all. Tent pole sales, digital, D2 – all would have budgets. And those priorities might change quarterly.

At least that’s what I think I’d do today. But to be honest, I’ve changed my thinking so many times about this in the last 5 years that I could feel differently tomorrow.

I do know this, though. As our business is becoming more complicated, it’s likely we’ll be looking at this issue more and more in the future. 


Jim Doyle and the JDA team are passionate about helping sales managers get better. One of the ways they do that is the Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp. This program gets rave reviews with a combination of real-world ideas and inspirational outside speakers. Our next Boot Camp is in Tampa, January 2018. More info: Boot Camp 2018 

There may be no better investment you can make in your future than to help your sales manager to get better.

Brittany Tomjanovich is the Director of Operations at JDA.media.

Brittany has a passion for data and details. That passion, coupled with her healthy respect for broadcast and digital’s powerful marketing platforms, has led to a fun and growing career in media.

In January 2011, Brittany joined Madison’s ABC affiliate, WKOW, as a sales assistant.  Immersing herself quickly into the sales process and organizational flow, she thrived and by the time she moved into a corporate role, she had supported local sales, national sales, and the programming department reporting directly to the station’s General Manager.

As the Broadcast Group Sales Coordinator at Quincy Media Inc., her role consisted of training and supporting the sales support staff in Quincy’s 16 markets.  She also handled communication and reports for the company’s VP of Sales.

Brittany is a quirky, creative, introverted-extrovert, focused on solving problems and dedicated to producing high-quality results.

Brittany is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin – Madison (On Wisconsin!), and currently lives in Blue Mounds, WI with her husband, Tyler, and two children, Hailey and Mason.

When she’s not behind her computer, you can find her spending time outdoors with her family.  She enjoys camping, kayaking, fishing, crafting and growing food in their backyard garden.

 

 

 

Since Leslie’s first post college role, she has been enthusiastically involved with helping clients get results!  Her media career started in local production at KCCI, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, where she honed her creative chops and found her marketing passion.

It was a natural progression to move to an Agency, and then a Marketing firm next.  Working in a "think tank" environment, coming up with campaign ideas for clients and writing scripts capitalized on Leslie’s strengths.  During that time, she was part of a team that brought a national Grand Prix race to the streets of Des Moines, and executed several other high-profile festivals and events with thousands of attendees.

Embracing her entrepreneurial spirit and enjoyment of working with local businesses, Leslie made the leap into sales in 1992.  She cut her teeth at the local daily paper focusing 100% on the automotive space.  Working with tough, smart, risk-taking, and big thinking dealers, she learned much including grit and accountability.

Recruited to the cable side of media marketing, she spent the next 23 years as a Senior sales professional (9 yrs) and Sales Manager (15 yrs) at OnMedia.  As a seller she was the first million-dollar biller in the company, only to outdo herself the next year with the company’s first million-dollar contract.  Leslie received OnMedia’s Shining Star Award numerous times and has many ardent fans still in the ranks of the company.

At JDA.media we know that the best predictor of success is past success, and Leslie has it in spades.

Leslie loves collaborating with local businesses and clients - bringing unique, creative ideas and recommendations that make a lasting impact.  She prides herself on her ability to form relationships quickly and being a results-oriented thinker.

When Leslie isn't being a marketing professional, she spends time with her best friend and husband if 31 years.  They enjoy international travel, scuba diving, golfing, exercising, gardening, cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones and they most recently purchased a RV to spend their first winter in Florida.  Their dog Margarita (Rita) loves to take long walks with them on the beach at the end of the day to watch the sunset.

Leslie is also an active volunteer.  For six years she was board President for Komen of Iowa; helped run the central Iowa chapter of Shoes that Fit for 15 years; served 3 years on the Urbandale Chamber board of directors; spent 5 years as head of the marketing committee for Altoona Christian Church; two years as an advisor to her alma madder, Grand View University, on the Alumni Relations Committee; and is a founding member of the Des Moines Westside Chamber.

 

 

 

 

 

Nate Schwendeman has been in Marketing and Advertising since 2004.  He has helped thousands of local businesses grow and stand out from the competition by developing creative and customized ideas.

Nate worked his way up through multiple markets in the Midwest as an Account Executive, a Team Leader, and a Local Sales Manager by the age of 32.  As he wore those many hats, he won OnMedia’s Shining Star award for selling and leading, and multiple Addy’s for creative.

Nate has a proven track record of success.  As an Account Executive he broke company records for hitting budget consecutive months in a row.  And in his first year as a sales leader his team surpassed 3 million dollars in ad revenue, significantly over-achieving budget and stretch goals.  But his successes in helping local business owners grow and achieve their dreams are the ones he’s most proud of and gladly shares.

Nate is an alumnus from the University of Northern Iowa.  In recent years he was honored to work with his alumni University and Wartburg College marketing departments, talking to students and professors about creative ideas and marketing principles for businesses of all sizes.  He also sat on the Board of Directors for the UNI Panther Scholarship club.

A long time JDA.media disciple, Nate prides himself in studying his customers’ industries, doing thoughtful preparation, asking the right questions of all parties involved, and bringing unique ideas.  His client’s commercials have been shared all over the United States as best practices on how to stand out and generate results.

One of Nate's funniest commercials was viewed by a Presidential Candidate in a small town in Iowa, prompting the candidate to come into the place of business and mention the ad.

When Nate isn’t helping his customers make money, he enjoys cooking on his Big Green Egg, reading, hunting, fishing, all sports, and spending time with his beautiful wife, three daughters and son.  The Schwendeman family also includes three cats and one giant Doberman puppy.

Nate wants to live in a world filled with innovative businesses, groundbreaking ideas and marketing books that come bundled with bourbon and bacon.

Nate used to train for combat sports and holds a 1-0 record in kickboxing. His debut fight was his retirement fight because his wife said so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margie Chilson is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Her vast experience includes nearly three decades in broadcast television and digital sales marketing, working in and with multiple markets and affiliations including Dallas-Fort Worth at WFAA, Denver at KUSA-KTVD, KMGH, KWGN, and as a team manager at Millennium Television Sales.

Margie’s years as a local seller were award-winning and inspiration for her jump to JDA.media. She exceeded new business and digital goals on a consistent basis at Belo Corp., Scripps, Tribune, and TEGNA Inc. stations. A true innovator, Margie pioneered job-sharing positions in Dallas and Denver, balancing hectic work schedules and family, paving the way for working parents with careers in media sales.

Margie is well known and respected for her diligence, drive, and new business results. Due to her years in the business as an account executive and sales leader, she knows the station environment well and can easily relate to local sellers as well as the most senior managers.

An alum of Oklahoma State University who graduated with Honors in Journalism Advertising, Margie boasts an outstanding track record of helping business owners strategically grow their revenue through broadcast, streaming and digital solutions.

Margie and her husband Tim have been married for 23 years. The couple and their two children live in Littleton, CO, a suburb of Denver. Their son, Ryan, attends the University of Colorado Boulder, and their daughter, Mary, is in high school.  In their spare time, the Chilsons enjoy travel, hiking in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, cooking, watching movies, and cheering on their kids in various sporting events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Stoos is SVP, Revenue Drives at JDA.media.

For over 20 years, Jim has crafted successful marketing programs for hundreds of local businesses.

His expansive media experience includes delivering significant advertising results utilizing broadcast, digital, cable, and radio.

His specialty is helping small-to-medium-sized businesses address sales and marketing challenges while developing game-changing strategies with real-world creative solutions.

Prior to joining JDA.media, Jim held strategic management positions as Regional Vice President, General Manager, and Local Sales Manager at television and cable companies in the Midwest.

His leadership roles gave him the opportunity to apply JDA.media principles to help Account Executives develop campaigns that combined television and digital solutions, which positively impacted business owners’ success. Jim’s extensive digital background includes the launch of digital tools for an entire sales division.

The media veteran’s skill set also includes web design, digital display and video, as well as mobile, AdWords, pre-roll advertising, and digital ad extension products.

He lives in Bettendorf, Iowa with his two sons and “one crazy cat.”

For years Jim has worked as a dedicated member of Iowa’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He enjoys playing as well as coaching football.

In his spare time, Jim enjoys working out with his boys (both are scholarship track athletes at St. Ambrose University in Davenport), as well as camping, and riding horses with his sweetheart Stacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

holly allenHolly Allen is a JDA.media Senior Marketing Consultant.

With nearly 27-years in the industry, including over five years as President & General Manager of FOX23 and MY41 in Tulsa, OK, Holly has developed a deep expertise in many facets of media. However, her true passion is working directly with clients.

Her “no box” thinking and creative mind allow her to design effective marketing strategies that drive significant results for advertisers.

Holly believes the first step to helping a business grow is to “peel back the layers” to uncover their unique needs, goals, and opportunities.

Next, she formulates and executes a thorough, well-rounded marketing plan that exceeds their expectations.

She enjoys the brainstorming process and seeing clients get enthusiastic when her strategies bring their businesses to unprecedented levels of success.

Experts say the greatest predictor of success is past success, which rings especially true with Holly’s career. Starting as an effective ad agency rep, she quickly moved into broadcast sales and marketing.  Moving up through the sales ranks, Holly eventually became the President & General Manager of a pair of dominant broadcast television stations in Tulsa, OK.

Most recently she founded All-en Media, LLC, where she works with clients in various categories, including auto, banking, retail, and more.

A proud graduate of Oklahoma State University, she lives in Tulsa with her high school aged daughter Lila, while her son Henry attends the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Holly enjoys long walks outdoors, visiting with family and friends, and volunteering her time to local causes whenever possible.

 

Wendy Hosterman is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Over the course of Wendy’s nearly 25-years in media, she’s worked successfully in multiple categories from automotive to retail to healthcare and more. She possesses a unique depth of knowledge as a seller, manager, and executive at privately-owned media companies as well as Fortune 500 firms.

“I have always been a top performer winning multiple President's Cups, Pinnacle Awards, and various client honors,” she says proudly.  But her real professional passion is connecting with local businesses to help them grow and cut through the clutter.

During her nearly 11-year tenure with Cox Media Group (CMG) in Tulsa, Wendy specialized in leveraging television, radio, and digital platforms for her clients. In her years with the company, she was recognized four consecutive years with the prestigious CMG President’s Circle Award, and Top Digital Performer (in Oklahoma) for five consecutive years.

Prior to working with Cox, Wendy led local initiatives at Newport Television in Tulsa and was a Local Sales Manager. She oversaw a team of six, achieved record revenue goals, launched and managed a successful lifestyle/sponsorship program that generated over $300,000 in its inaugural year.

“I've spent my career putting together the right solutions and the right messaging for customers. I am transparent, and pride myself on being a great listener,” she says.  “I can connect with local business owners because I've been working with them and creating solutions that grow their companies for nearly 25 years.” Her methodology includes maintaining constant contact with customers. “It’s critical, and part of our responsibility is to manage expectations and make changes when needed.”

Wendy is a passionate sports fan, a proud University of Kansas graduate who worked in the athletic department. Nowadays, her outside-of-work passion is centered on exercise, which includes running, barre, yoga, and spin.

She is the proud parent of two amazing sons, Noel and Shane, and a pair of rescue dogs.

 

 

 

 

perry kapiloffPerry Kapiloff is a JDA.media Senior Marketing Consultant.

With over two decades of experience in broadcast advertising sales and management, plus eleven years in ad agencies, he is a media veteran in every sense.

During his career, Perry has worked extensively with small, as well as medium-sized businesses, to develop results-oriented marketing strategies and advertising campaigns.

He began his radio career in Massachusetts where he met and worked with “The Guru of Ads,” the legendary innovator Don Fitzgibbons.

Perry remained in radio for a decade learning the importance of frequency and stand-out creative that gets results.

He held management positions with Clear Channel Communications and Citadel Broadcasting, and worked as a Senior Account Executive for a full-service New England agency managing advertising for a variety of businesses.

In 2006, Perry founded Kapiloff Marketing Group, specializing in broadcast media and advertising messages that get results.

Over the years his clients have included automobile, tractor, and motorcycle dealerships, a home improvement center, plus restaurants and real estate companies, as well as insurance agencies.

Perry is a graduate of Ohio University where he earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Today, he resides in West Boylston, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

A huge sports fan, Perry and his family are proud members of the Red Sox Nation. He also enjoys the outdoors, as well as coaching baseball, and playing golf.

 

 

 

John Hillary is a JDA.media Senior Marketing Consultant.

Since 2006, he has worked directly with hundreds of small-to-medium-sized businesses, developing fully-integrated, results-driven media marketing strategies that have consistently helped meet and exceed goals.

John began his career with NRS Media in Atlanta, working as a Project Manager, closely analyzing market trends and sales data for the company’s multi-phase programs.

He was soon promoted to one of NRS Media’s lead consultants, working as an Account Director. In his role, John helped hundreds of local businesses grow through innovative and creative advertising campaigns.

During his tenure with NRS, John consulted for 25 different media outlets in television, digital, radio, cable, and print, in over 20 markets throughout the U.S.

Due to his success at helping businesses and stations drive revenue, he was recruited to join WCIU-TV, the CW affiliate in Chicago, as an Account Executive.

There, he worked with local companies and national chains, collaborating on innovative ways to make messages resonate with customers in a large, competitive marketplace.

John’s energy, passion, creativity, and understanding of results-oriented marketing strategies have consistently made him a vital asset to clients and company colleagues in every phase of his career.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, John graduated from the University of Michigan and remains an avid Wolverine fan.

In his spare time, he enjoys running, golf, being with friends and family, and escaping to the water and beaches of Lake Michigan.

In late 2020, John and his wife Katie returned to Georgia to reside in Roswell, one of Atlanta sprawling suburbs.  And in early 2021 John and Katie welcomed a daughter.

 

 

Billie Adkins is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

She is an expert at crafting innovative, creative strategies that get dramatic results for advertisers.

Decision-makers appreciate Billie’s unique ability to ask the kind of provocative questions that lead to the development of distinct and effective TV and/or digital creative that gets viewers’ attention and drives consumer action.

Through her 25-plus years in media, Billie has developed an extensive professional portfolio with a depth of experience that includes a variety of management positions in sales, and important posts in news, production, station promotion, and market research.

As a General Sales Manager at WDTN, the NBC affiliate in Dayton, Ohio, she led a multimedia marketing team that specialized in achieving clients’ marketing and operational goals with a client-centric approach.

She embodies all aspects of the JDA.media philosophy recognizing that each business is unique, with its own challenges and opportunities. In order to build a results-driven advertising plan for clients, you must first understand the business and then formulate a strategy to make the company stand out from competitors.

Billie resides in Carlisle, Ohio with her husband and two children. When not traveling the country for JDA.media, helping business owners increase their sales, she enjoys family time, reading, and coaching soccer, often cheering for kids that need a special someone in the stands just for them.