Checklist For Your Sales Department's Success

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Jan 31, 2024 by Sean Luce

Central Oregon, a sportsman's paradise, is a great place to visit. Running a sales department here in Bend is highly competitive. After 40 hours of mid-year reviews, the sales manager, sales reps, and I have one more day of matching account-by-account projections with mid-year's real numbers, while identifying attrition and potential through year's end.

It hasn't been all peaches and cream here. Change is gradual, and success is defined by sustained growth, not quick spikes in revenue.This success story is worth analyzing for the components in overachieving sales goals.We're also talking about outpacing the growth of the market, not just keeping up with it. In this simple test, give yourself 10 points for each component that you are executing proficiently. There's not much gray area between success and mediocrity.

1. Do you have an account management system? Not a database system, this one segments sales accounts by dollars and potential; it is upgraded with specific plans to raise each account to the next level.There must be an activity goal for each segment (e.g., A and B segments must have weekly contact; Cs and Ds must have bi-weekly contact).

2. Do you have weekly planners? Do you scrutinize activity goals? Is there a complete call mix with specific objectives for each call? Are market areas zoned so reps don't drive across town three times a day?

3. Do you have a training system? Do you have a set, wellplanned curriculum for training meetings (rather than something thought up during your drive to work)?

4. Do you have one-on-one meetings? Are you ready with a specific checklist on what you want to accomplish during the meeting? Your reps should not have to wonder whether meetings will be held or whether they'll run late.

5. Do you have personnel assessments? According to CSO Insights, a Colorado research firm, turnover in the sales industry nearly doubled in 2021, mostly from resignations, rather than dismissals. First-year attrition in radio runs 80-90 percent, so consider implementing a simple pre-hiring assessment before you ask the candidate to sign on the dotted line.

6. Do you have an initial training program - or do you just throw them the Yellow Pages or a scrapheap of leads? Teach your new reps the seven steps of a new call and the seven steps of a closing call.Teach them to execute the ROI formula. New reps should spend specific time with top clients to gain confidence that radio works, and they should spend time with current reps.

7. Do you have in-field coaching - specific days to ride with your reps weekly? Learning in the classroom is vital, but learning in the field is critical. Do you spend at least 40 to 60 percent of your time weekly in the field? More important, do you coach them in the field, rather than selling for them?

8. Do you have a comprehensive first-call needs analysis? Or do your reps take out 8 1/2 x 11-inch yellow pads and shoot from the hip with no concurrent process? The finding of needs, problems, and opportunities is a process, not an event. Are your sales reps armed with superior tools beyond Arbitron

9. Do you have annual planning and mid-year reviews, the two most important meetings of the year? Lasting four to seven hours each, they can be grueling, but the account-by-account breakdown and development of specific strategies could increase each account by 20 percent over the next 12 months.

10. Do you have recognition programs? Do you reward top performance and not just top billing? Do you celebrate the small wins? Does the whole company know the Sales Rep of the Month? On a station basis: Do you have an Employee of the Month? Do you recognize tenure?

11. Bonus: Are you having fun? Is fun happenstance, or do you plan it? Nothing so disturbs the center of gravity as a well-conceived joke. Focus follows fun, not fear.

Now tally your responses.With 70+ points, you're probably running a pretty good sales department. 100 points means you're probably exceeding your sales goals in a big way. If you have fewer than 70, you might want to get a new coach to reset your systems.

It's important to realize that success doesn't happen immediately. "You have to have patience to build a winning team,- says Keith Shipman, CEO of Horizon Broadcasting Group in Bend, OR. "It doesn't happen overnight.We look for skill set, cultural fit, and a winning attitude that fits our system."

As with a professional football team, it can sometimes take years to find the right personnel to run your offense or your sales system. "If you don't have benchmarks and a checklist to help you maintain focus and provide progress reports along the way," says Brian Canady, former Horizon Broadcasting Group general sales manager, "you are destined to steer off course." What course are you on? At least 70 points says you're on the right track.Time to work on those other areas!

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