The impact of a Local Sales Manager on station growth and market growth cannot be overlooked. This position should not be set up as just someone to make accompanied calls or as the fireman, the closer, though these are important roles for the position. Good LSM's are hard to find, so keep them happy if you have a good one.
Depending on your station's set-up, you may have a General Sales Manager handling local sales, but for our purposes in this article, we will call the position the local sales manager or LSM.
Why is it that markets similar in size may vary greatly in market revenue? Most always this can be attributed to how aggressive stations have been with rates in individual markets. A good LSM will dig deep every month to know and understand the interaction between the accounts and the Account Executives assigned to those accounts. Included in this analysis are rates, inventory, and share. If any or all of these are not handled correctly, the potential revenue is lost, as well as market growth. Rates, how to raise rates correctly, when to raise rates, coupled with inventory control and management influence a station's success and ultimately, a market's success.
Ask yourself this question--Do our sales leaders understand rates and inventory control and management--and further, do they understand it to the degree that they can influence it correctly, as well as teach it? If you can't answer this with a definitive "yes", then seek help from an experienced soul who understands it, has experience doing it successfully, and can teach it properly. If you are not happy with your current sales, you should be concerned that you are living your future. Remember, the only thing worse than an untrained sales staff that leaves is an untrained sales staff that stays.
Too often all of us have heard, " Well, so and so has been handling that account for a long time, and we're doing okay with it...I guess." Not good! The LSM must be prepared to match the right account executive with the right account. For instance, having a golfer or tennis player calling on outdoor or athletic type accounts probably serves the station better than someone who is not sports-minded calling on them.
Account transition is hard but critical to the success of any station. It can also serve as a teaching tool, if handled correctly. What it can do and will do is increase sales and do so immediately. The LSM should review all accounts on a regular basis and have a system in place to reassign inactive accounts or those accounts not meeting established criteria. I would suggest doing this on a formal basis each quarter. A lot of this is common sense...but the LSM, backed by the GM, must have the desire to engage.
If local sales sell the best inventory at good rates, think of the impact this has on national and regional accounts and rates. They will have no other option than to pay the same or higher rates. Remember, it is not what you sell that counts, but what you bill and collect.
- Mike DeLier, President, The DeLier Group