Don't Let Your Quarterback Be Sacked

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Oct 31, 2023 by Sean Luce

As those of you who follow American football know, the quarterback sack during a football game is when the quarterback (the on-field leader) is tackled by the opposing team behind the line of scrimmage. This usually occurs because of a breakdown when one or more of the offensive lineman didn't check off on their assignments. For our purposes here, the on-field leader is the sales manager and the sales reps are the offensive linemen.

This scenario recently occurred during a market visit to one of our client stations. I conducted a one-on-one with a sales rep who wanted me to brainstorm ideas for a mortgage company. Here's the case study:

SITUATION: The mortgage company has run one month of a two-month schedule (which seems too short, since a buyer's awareness cycle would be at least 6 to 12 months). Call activity to the mortgage company has been very low - in fact, over the four weeks that the schedule ran, the advertiser received only two calls generated by the station. This is in contrast to a goal of four to six calls per week, as stated in the return-oninvestment worksheet.

As a result, the sales rep was very perplexed about what to do. She conceded that the ad copy was weak, because the client did not want to go with station's suggested result-oriented copy. (Since when does the client tell us what to run?) The schedule of spots was well above the frequency of three each week. The station has one more month - if the mortgage company doesn't cancel before the end of the schedule - to determine how to fix this potential catastrophe. In other words, we were about to be sacked!

My questions to the sales rep (the offensive lineman) were: Who at the mortgage company establishes where the calls are initiated, and what are their methods to determine the origination points? The sales rep's answer: "I don't know." (Blown assignment.)

SOLUTION: To arrive at a solution, I asked the general manager to "mystery shop" with a phone call to the mortgage company. I had a gut feeling that the mortgage company didn't source their calls, and the general manager was very astute on home financing because he was in the market for a new home.

THE RESULT: The mortgage company had a screener, who took information but never asked how the GM/potential customer chose to call this mortgage company. Instead, the screener passed the general manager to a financial consultant (out of state, no less) for an in-depth, 15-minute needs analysis. The GM even tried to "aid" the financial consultant by saying, "I think I heard about this on the radio," but there still was no probing about where this potential customer heard about the service. (Note: We documented the people who answered the call and what time we "mystery shopped.")

A TWIST: Later that day, we created a twist (another play).We "mystery shopped" a mortgage company where another sales rep was experiencing a similar frustration: low telephone sourcing. The result was the same - there was no sourcing.

The following day, the rep and the sales manager (quarterback) met with the second mortgage company, explained what we did and gave them the feedback of the "mystery shop." At first registering disbelief, they accepted the responsibility that their people were failing with their part of the "EFS" - equation for success.

LESSON: How many times has a client sacked us for lack of performance when we, most likely, have produced results at or above the desired expectations? If we are to be held responsible for results, then we had better make sure that the clients' tracking, customer-counter and sourcing are in place before the schedule starts. Otherwise, we might be sacked, and we would never know that the client was "off sides" and actually should have drawn a penalty.

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