We are just about to celebrate Father’s Day. As we reflect on our upbringing, I am betting that many of you, like me, got advice about what to do, and what not to do, from our fathers. Some of that advice, I even asked for!
And while I had a healthy respect for my father, since his leadership of the family was accomplished with somewhat of an iron fist, I also knew that my dad always wanted the best for me and always had my back. He guided me when I was young, and let me go as I grew, was supportive and proud when I was successful, and supportive and corrective when I wasn't.
Chances are your sales manager fits that role in your media sales family. Think about it – they tell you what you should be doing, and you clearly know when you are wrong. They have a vested interest in your success and in helping you grow. But the difference is, you are an “adopted” kid, and you are starting the relationship not as an infant, but as an adult. Your sales manager is not your babysitter, and as an adult, you need to take responsibility for you.
Don’t say, “Are we there yet?” Know your goals, and know where you are now. Know your path to get to your goal. If you have a CRM system, check it often to be sure you are on track. It shouldn't be a surprise when the weekly numbers come out, and you shouldn't find out in your one-on-one that you don’t have enough pending. It is your goal, your income, and your job.
Don’t expect your sales manager to do your homework for you. Everyone in media sales should get the occasional lead, but you should always be prospecting for new business on your own. Don’t wait for your manager to create packages or come up with sales ideas. Look ahead on the calendar for ideas for categories and copy. Do your own homework on rates for that avail based on available inventory, especially if you have a yield management system. Did I say it is your income and your job? (We parents/managers tend to repeat ourselves...)
Try to understand where he is coming from. He wants to do his job, not be your babysitter. So if he asks you where you are going (and with whom), or for progress reports, it is not Big Brother. He is responsible to other people, and he wants to guide you to success while steering you away from failure. He is not trying to get in your way; he is only successful when you are successful.
Ask for advice and help – and more often than not, take it. Your sales manager has been around the block a time or two, and even if they haven’t been in media sales as long as you, they may have more information and/or experience in a situation. For example, you may fall in love with that account, but your manager can see that it is no good for you and will cause you grief in the end.
Let him share success. Did I say he is only successful when you are successful? Proud papas are found at the school music concert, graduations, your marriage to the perfect spouse, the birth of your first child. Proud managers are found when you bring in your first order, when you get that “thank you” from that troubled client, when you are known as one who consistently hits your goals, when you are recognized as Salesperson of the Year. The accomplishment was yours, but don’t forgot who brought you into this business (and who can take you out!) and who has supported you along the way.
I learned a lot about life from my dad. I learned a lot about media sales from my managers. My managers sometimes embarrassed me in front of the other media sellers, and I sometimes dreaded my “meetings” with my father. But I always knew both had my best interests at heart.
For more thoughts from Kitty about the relationship between managers and media sellers, read Media Sales Managers: Should You Be a Master or Servant?