Two weeks ago, this column featured an article about engaged leadership. Leaders who aren’t letting the business just happen to them but are highly engaged with their people and their clients are the future of our business. If you’re an engaged sales leader, or aspire to be, the following article will hopefully make you think. Selling new business is one thing. Keeping it on is another. This article was written by Jarrett McConnico, one of our talented Senior Marketing Consultants, about a situation that unfortunately we see all too frequently. I hope it gives you some real-world ideas about how to keep the new business you close.
A few months back, I helped a station close a $150,000 piece of new business. The client was a car dealer. We took the account away from a competing station by bringing them a great creative idea, along with a well-thought-out television and digital strategy.
We were excited, and the client was excited. I was sure this would be a long and profitable relationship for everyone.
Two months later—four weeks after the strategy launched—I emailed the AE. “How’s our car dealer doing?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” she wrote back. “I haven’t talked with him recently.” Say WHAT!!
The advertising had started as planned and had been running for a month. During that month, the AE had not reached out to the client to see how it was going.
A six-figure new relationship was already suffering from neglect. Meanwhile, every competing television station, radio station, and digital agency was undoubtedly pounding on the dealer’s door looking for a chance to do better.
“I’ve been really busy,” the AE told me.
I get it. There’s a lot on the team members’ plates. They have the football package, political-season pre-empts to deal with, and a new healthcare initiative. Once the commercial has been created and approved, it’s easy to let follow-up slip.
That’s why it’s crucial that your AE’s have a solid new account service contact plan in place, and they schedule each event on their calendar.
Here are some items that should be on the contact plan:
One week before launch: Don’t just email the commercial to the client. Have a pre-launch event at their office or store. Bring pizza or donuts for the staff and play the new commercial for everyone. Leave a copy of the ad behind on a flash drive.
The day before launch: Call the client on the phone with a reminder. Your AE will probably get voice mail, so encourage them to have a message prepared and rehearsed: “Hey, Bob, just wanted to let you know our Sell-a-thon strategy launches tomorrow. You’ll be in the 6am news tomorrow morning, and the 10pm news that night. Congratulations on a great decision, and thanks for your business!” If they do get voice mail, have them leave the message and then send the same information by email.
At the end of the first week: Call to check in. “Bob, I know it’s pretty early, but I don’t want to just let this run on autopilot. How are things going?”
Many salespeople are afraid to do this. What if nothing’s happened yet? If proper expectations are set in advance, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if the advertiser’s unhappy for any reason, it’s smart to give them a chance to express their concerns before things get out of hand.
Call again during Week 2 and make a point of setting a time to meet in person some time toward the end of the first month on the air.
Continue to schedule regular check-in calls every week for the first three months of the strategy launch. By then, your AE and the client will have settled into a comfortable rhythm and they’ll know whether the plan is going to succeed.
All of this takes time, effort, and planning. But if they make the investment early in the relationship, the odds of a profitable long-term partnership improve greatly.
Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales FORCE? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-926-SELL.