Running on Empty: When Media Sales Dreams Don’t Come True

Oct 15, 2013 8:30:29 AM / by Kitty Malone

Running on Empty: When Media Sales Dreams Don’t Come True Manage both your and own and your client's expectations so you'll be prepared for whatever happens at the finish line.
Australian South Sea Islander women crossing the finish line in a race in Innisfail, Queensland, Australia, c.1902. A. Pearson, photographer. State Library of Queensland.

Managing Expectations

I recently wrote a blog about goal setting, in which I shared my goal of running my first 5K in the Bahamas. As I trained, I envisioned my husband and daughters standing at the finish line, cheering me on, proud that I had really gone from couch to 5K.

I got up early on race day, dressing quietly so as not to wake my family. I nervously chatted with the other runners as we waited to go ashore from the cruise ship. I started my playlist on my iPod, and took off with the other runners. I had not trained for the Bahamian heat and humidity, but pushed myself on, for I knew there would soon be a photo on Facebook with me triumphantly crossing the finish line.

Two more miles to go. Just up the old runway on the picturesque Caribbean island, then back. As the front of the field had made the turn, they nodded and smiled encouragement to those of us with less-long strides.

Dripping with sweat, Springsteen’s Born to Run blasting in my ears as planned, the end is in sight. This is it – the finish line I had pictured so many times. With a final burst of speed I crossed!

And no one, save the cruise director, is there.

“Congratulations! Nicely done!” he says as he turns his attention to the next runner behind me. I look around. No husband, no daughters, no pictures, and no fanfare.

I grabbed some water and headed for the beach. With a post card view, I pondered what had gone wrong. I had set a goal, I declared it, I worked for it, and I visualized the outcome. Why was I so disappointed?

Turns out that my husband was fighting a sudden cold, and while he was willing to get up, his cough and fever won out. He didn’t tell the girls I was doing a 5K, because he knew I wanted the element of surprise that Mom really could run a 5K. He missed the part that to be a surprise, there has to be a reveal. In his Nyquil-induced stupor, he also didn’t understand where I told him to tell the girls to meet me after the run.

I spent the day at the beach alone; they wondered where I was and spent their time alone at another beach on the island. By dinner time, disappointment was tinged with frustration. Clearly, I didn’t communicate well, nor did I manage my own expectations.

In media sales, we often have customers whose disappointment is tinged with frustration after their schedule runs, or after their remote or personal appearance occurs. We thought we did things right – we used our inventory control system to be sure their schedule ran at good times, the copy was creative, and the talent was cheerful at the appearance.

This week, I am going to focus on only one very important thing that we can do to fend off disappointment: MANAGE EXPECTATIONS!

In a blog about appearances I posted recently, a former coworker was reminded of a remote he had at a tanning salon for which the client had purchased promotional items for the first 200 people. His comment was, “Talk about high expectations!”  Be aware of saying “Yes we can!” or “Yes, that will happen” just to make the sale, when it may not.

Every experienced media sales rep has had that gulp moment when something didn't work like we thought it would. Be honest with your clients, especially if they are new to media advertising. Tell them it may not work exactly as we think it will because marketing has so many variables, but assure them you are doing everything you can to minimize risk.

Give them a realistic timeline. Advertising takes reach and frequency, and while one well-placed spot a day may work, it will take time. Under-promise and over-deliver and give them honest expectations so your clients don't have 1,000 coffee mugs ready for the first 1,000 people who buy new carpeting today.

I so badly wanted my family to be proud that my vision was not out of line with reality. They ARE proud, but didn’t need to be there to be proud of me. But just like the carpeting client can't imagine who would want to miss his great sales pitch and a free coffee mug, my expectation was that who would want to miss seeing an aging sweaty woman run out of the palm trees? The answer to both is clear.

The other mistake I made involved poor communication. Next week, I will address how important it is to get the right message to the right person.

By Kitty Malone, Efficio Solutions Manager of Client Services

Tags: Media Sales, Customer Success

Kitty Malone

Written by Kitty Malone

Director of Customer Service