My goal in these bi-weekly columns is to provide ideas about how TV leaders get ready for very different business. So I write about a lot of things, from new business strategies, to culture, sales staff structure and so much more.
But there’s one factor that trumps all others. That’s the quality of your sales leadership. I’ve seen station after station where just one change at the top has created huge changes in billing. Most of the time, little else changes. Ratings stay the same and most of the people stay. Yet, with one change in sales leadership, billing goes up dramatically.
How do you know if your sales manager is good? If your answer is, “They’re making budget,” I’d encourage you to think more deeply. Stations MISS budget and stations MAKE budget for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the sales management. So, while budget is always a standard, it cannot be the only standard.
Jack Welch, the legendary former chairman of GE, had a powerful way he evaluated leaders. He called it the 4 E’s. His evaluation of leadership looked at 4 factors that all began with the letter E: 1) Energy 2) Energize 3) Effectiveness and 4) EDGE.
After working with thousands of sales managers, I think I can add some industry specific insights to each of these 4 E’s.
Most great sales managers are high-energy people. They walk faster, decide faster, even drive faster. They show up every day determined to make a difference. They aren’t especially happy with the status quo.
Another word for energy today might be URGENCY—the drive to get things done faster. A strong orientation to change. And change now.
The last four letters of ENTHUSIASM, “I A S M” stand for I Am Sold Myself. I have to be sold myself before I can sell anyone else, especially my sales team. In the words of the great Keith Harrell, “You can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery.”
Does your sales manager have the ability to get their team excited? Can they get a team fired up about the potential for a client in a major sports package or a new digital product?
Do they create energy or deplete it? This is about the culture of your sales office. Too many sales meetings deplete AE energy. There are still too many “the beatings will continue until morale improves” sales meetings, and sadly, more than a few sales managers who think that’s the way to lead.
Great managers understand the value of applause, fun, and excitement in building a high performance sales team. We spend a fair amount of time at our Sales Manager’s Boot Camp talking about marrying that culture with rigid accountability. That’s the critical balance.
Great sales managers don’t just have energy themselves. They have the ability to create energy in their teams.
By the way, this isn’t just how your sales manager is in front of their group. And it doesn’t mean I think that every sales manager has to be capable of delivering a rah-rah half time pep talk. It’s also how a leader is one-on-one. An important manager in my career energized me by challenging me to get better and by being specific about how I might get there, and it all occurred in quiet one-on-one sessions in his office. It’s more than rah-rah!
Do they make the budget numbers?
Are your new business efforts paying off?
Do they manage the controllables well?
Are they dealing with underperformers or tolerating them because of weak recruiting?
Is our revenue share growing? Are we doing that without trashing our rates?
How about digital growth?
Do we exceed budget on tent pole events like football or Olympics?
Ultimately, if your sales manager is doing all of these things well, that’s a huge deal. And if your sales manager is highly enthusiastic but missing all of these effectiveness indicators, that’s not the leader for you. We are all judged by performance. While I believe that great sales managers get to effectiveness by being personally energetic and creating energy in their team, I have met more than a few sales managers who don’t do that and yet make every effectiveness matrix you look at. While I might not like the way they get there, they are getting there. That’s huge.
We are all judged by effectiveness, so this one is big.
You want a sales manager who gives you an edge. There are lots of ways a sales manager can do that. Some sales managers get their stations an edge because people want to work for them. Recruiting is no problem for them. Other sales managers are so good at inventory management and pricing that their station gets an edge that way. I know a major market sales manager who is strong at creating new local direct business with his sellers, and he does it with the power of his personal engagement with the team and with clients. His station clearly gets an edge because of that.
Maybe your sales manager has deep relationships with a couple of the market’s biggest spenders?
How does your sales leadership give you an edge?
I had a GM who taught me that one of the ways you evaluate people is to ask, “What would I lose if they left?” If your answer is “not much,” then you probably have the wrong sales manager or one who really needs to step up their game.
1) Does your sales manager have personal energy?
2) Do they have the ability to create energy within their sales staff?
3) Are they effective? Are they making the numbers you need to make to be successful in this new TV business? That’s way more than whether they’re making budget.
4) Do they give you an edge?
If you can’t answer all 4 “E” questions positively, you likely have some issues. It’s critical to be honest with yourself here. Our business is not going to get easier in the next few years. We all agree with that. So a sales manager who is only average today will be a failure in a few years, unless they change.
If nothing is more critical to your success than the quality of your sales management, making sure you have the best leadership you can have in those slots is Job #1 for bosses.
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.