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Observations From The Road


Since the beginning of the year, I have been on a whirlwind tour of the United States and Canada doing seminars, consulting for clients, and attending Convergence 2013. I have noticed some common threads in my travels, and I wanted to share some of those observations.

1. Referrals. Why won’t media reps ask for referrals? I cannot figure it out. Media reps know that they should be asking for them, but they just will not do it. Every account that is active can give two or three qualified referrals. The two best places to get referrals are from satisfied customers and people who say no.

2. Trust the gut instinct. Luce Performance Group conducted an open house recruitment campaign two years ago at one of the media companies where we consult. A candidate was identified that we wanted to hire. We did not move quickly enough to hire the potential media rep and lost her to the competition. We recently got another chance and hired her away. Hire slowly is a good rule of thumb. We were guilty of dragging our feet. 

3. The majority of media reps still do not do a complete Customer Needs Analysis (CMP). We are well into the next millennium and still flying by the seat of our pants. I see reps attempting some version of a customer needs analysis -- if they use any at all. Why? Some are lazy, have no structure, and no accountability. When should the closing happen? It should occur on the CMP call when the rep quantifies and qualifies the prospect. Reps are not setting expectations and objectives as thoroughly as they should.

4. Little measuring, sourcing, and tracking of the advertisement in above-the-line media (radio and TV). We live in a measured media world. In most cases, the sourcing used by a customer is them asking, “What brought you in today?” That method is not sourcing. Usually, when asked what brought them in today, the last point of contact in the consumer’s mind will get the credit. For example, the sign that they saw when they were driving up, or the friend who told them about the business. Good internal tracking by the radio and TV stations should have an element that is asking, “Have they been exposed to the advertising on WAYZ 104.7 or the specific program on the TV station or news slots?” A media rep must tie in their Air Force (radio and TV advertising) to the customer’s Ground Force (POS/POP materials, cash register cards, ceiling hangers) or anything else that is triggering recall where a rep can get the credit for the increase in sales. The Internet acts as the "Special Forces" and is needed on all advertising buys, in my opinion.

5. Only 10 percent of my audiences are using ROI. Incredible! Incredibly sad! I do not know what to say. How does a rep set expectations with the retailer or business owner? Are the reps crossing their fingers, selling the package, and running out the door? I think so. It is no wonder that the attrition rate is killing us in radio and TV sales. Holy cow! How does someone sell like this, or why do they sell like this? No expectations are implemented on the campaign, so why track it? I suppose that there is nothing to track. Good chances are that the rep will not be there anyway since the first 24 months for sales rep attrition is above 50 percent. To the credit of those in management and sales who utilize the ROI, well done! It is no surprise that they are taking over 50 percent of the advertising dollar in the marketplace.

6. Package sales are like crack. The reps feed the clients the crack, and the client keeps asking for it. The client then becomes addicted to package sales. The only problem is that media sales do not offer a 12-Step Program for recovery. Instead, the reps keep offering them the packages of choice. Then, one day, they expect the client to magically take our long-term, expectation-driven, return-on-investment, results-oriented marketing solution. It just does not work that way. I believe that we have created a generation of package addicts.

I cannot close without saying that during my travels I saw some truly great reps that I have previously trained. I know that they are cleaning up in the markets. I also met quite a few reps who want to change the way that they are selling. Half of winning in media sales or anything else in life is about attitude and how to react to things. Winning is about the enthusiasm when selling and the belief in oneself. Remember, it is 80 percent about you and 20 percent about the product. Are you going to “bring it” today?

One more observation from the road: I did not think that it snowed much after spring. Ten inches of snow is coming down in St. Louis this morning. So much for what I thought I knew about the weather. I think I'd better stick with sales!

Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at

(10/26/2013 6:29:43 PM)
IVUFxr Say, you got a nice post. Fantastic.

- NY
(3/26/2013 10:08:50 AM)
As generalizations go, Bob, and given that spelling out specificities takes so long, I do tend to paint with a broader brush.

So, to be a little more specific: Indeed, there are many "pro" sales reps. However (and this has been so for my entire career), even the pro reps are given such tawdry product (spots) and limitations (management curriculae), that those who do as well as some do is an impressive series of events that does speak to professionalism and skill.

Given my expertise is in programming, I appreciate the knowledge, experience and insights the senior salespeople like Sean and others bring to the project.

Gawd knows my area (programming, presentation and commercial production) has been vacant of new and useful approaches for decades.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(3/25/2013 11:12:52 PM)
Ron (who usually has good points) is saying that many salespeople are amateurs, and Sean is criticizing salespeople for using "packages"/thinking short term. Well, station owners and management are the ones who are month-to-month focused, and think short term- everything is based on "what did you do this month"?- So how can you possibly expect salespeople to then think long-term?! I respect though, that owners and managers sign Luce's consulting checks, so he certainly could not criticize them.

- Bob M
(3/25/2013 10:21:02 AM)
Sean won't say it because 1. He doesn't have to as it is obvious anyway. and, 2.To say so won't make him any buddies within his potential market.

However, what he is saying is that we are working with and for Amateurs! The other unspoken premise is that reps have no trust in or enthusiasm for the products and services they are representing.

Our locally-produced spots get trumped by just about anything scribbled for a Kijiji insert. No steps are taken to correct these atrocious radio examples of actual advertising, That understanding tends to drive any sales efforts as being only exercises in developing a little short-term cash flow. And good luck the next time. (I mean, sometimes even the drek works.)

Excellent, necessary and sobering comments, Sean.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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