The Right-Brain 'Art' of Sales vs. the Left-Brain 'Analytic' – Musings on Media from the 'Sell' Side, with Occasional Forays into Music…and Wine
‘Keep It Real’ Sales Interview II: Tim J.M. Rohrer
For those souls diligently paying attention to the Sales section of the Blogosphere, you may not [yet] know his name…but you should already know of his writings, under the moniker of ‘Sales Loudmouth.’ If you don’t, start reading him…as of today.
Tim J.M. Rohrer - 'Sales Loudmouth'
MoM[S] is pleased & honored to have Tim J. M. Rohrer join us here, in agreeing to be our 2nd Guest in the ‘Keep It Real’ Sales series. Nothing more we need to say here, except that his blog on the Sales world is our current favorite, a top reading spot not likely to end soon. Having said all of that, let’s hear from Mr. ‘Sales Loudmouth’, Tim Rohrer:
MoM[S]:Thank you Tim for joining us at MindOnMedia[Sales], and agreeing to be our 2nd guest in the ‘Keep It Real’ Sales Interview Series. As I’ve written to you directly prior to this interview, Tim, I find it almost contradictory that you title your Blog as ‘Sales Loudmouth’, conjuring overblown caricatures of bad, obnoxious Sales people…and yet your writings are very much the OPPOSITE of that; introspective, insightful, involving.
Kind of a long lead-in to my question, but…why is this? It seems a title like ‘Sales Loudmouth’ is almost paradoxical to what you are REALLY doing?
Was this intentional for effect I presume? [If so, it works for me.]
Tim: I’ve been known to have an opinion about many topics and have, at one time or another, been called a loudmouth. In fact, loudmouth is probably one of the nicer things I’ve been called! The blog is all about my opinions related to sales, selling techniques, sales training, etc. Sometimes, I take a pretty hard line and I don’t typically offer differing viewpoints. ‘Loudmouth’ just seems to fit.
MoM[S]:Sorry, Tim, but I must stay on this track for a moment longer, as it is not only the real reason that I read your Blog/Website ongoing, it’s the reason I wanted to approach you to be a Guest for our ‘Keep It Real’ Sales series.
So, In carrying this point forward, let me quote if I may, from your post entitled, ‘Sell Like You’re Living’: “I try to set a scene to draw in the listener and make it easy for them to understand and appreciate the lesson I am conveying…” [Sounds anti-thetical to being a LoudMouth to me.]
Do you try to also sell in this fashion as well, to some extent? To set a scene for your prospect that might appeal to them somehow?
Tim: Over the years, I’ve attempted to teach selling in group meetings, one-on-one sessions with sellers, through my writings, etc. What I’ve found is that people learn better from me when I offer a relatable story, metaphor or example that catches their attention and allows them to listen more effectively. Selling often requires that a seller teach a prospect or help a prospect to learn. If a seller can help a prospect listen more effectively the prospect is more likely to learn the information that a seller is trying to teach.
MoM[S]:Can you talk about your background at this point? Like myself, you came up in TradMedia; how much are you doing in Digital as part of your current Sales efforts?
Tim: I started selling radio advertising in Charlotte, NC in 1990. At that time, radio operators were limited to owning two radio stations per market. That all changed with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, of course. In the early 90’s, radio was so much fun. That might be because I am biased towards working for small companies where sellers can get to know the owners and vice versa. As new media entered the picture it became very clear that traditional media sellers were going to have to learn how to sell database marketing, websites, text messaging, etc.
MoM[S]: And as a follow-up question, how much are you/your teams working in Digital sales, and/or Social Media now?
Tim: Now, digital sales is a very big part of our selling effort. While the revenue we generate is still heavily weighted toward the traditional segment, digital is often the difference between growing our business year over year or not. We expect digital revenue to double this year over last and probably double again next year and maybe even the year after that. Our radio stations are using social media to market themselves but we aren’t selling it.
MoM[S]: One of the things that our first ‘Keep it Real’ Series interviewee, Amy Phoenix, and I, discussed at length, was Training and then proper Comp plans for Trad teams, to incent them further along the Digital ad sales path.
We were both commenting on a Borrell Associates article that had looked at the merits of either ‘split’ teams, or not, for Trad and Digital media ad sales, and whether TradMedia reps could really be effective in selling Digital ad programs. After the post was published, Gordon Borrell himself was good enough to weigh in on our discussion. Any thoughts there from your orbit?
Tim: To me, the ideal situation is still to have one team for every primary offering. A radio station group would probably generate the most advertising revenue by having a dedicated sales team sell radio advertising and a separate team sell its digital offerings. But, practically speaking having one sales team do both might actually be more profitable. A friend of mine who runs a radio station group is fond of saying that one plus one equals one and a half. What he means is that if you take a sales team that sells one radio station and then give them a second radio station to sell, they will generate less revenue than two teams (one and a half instead of two). However, even he recently combined sales staffs for some of his products. The reason he did it is because of pressure from the buying community that doesn’t want two reps calling on them when one can represent multiple products offered by the same company. So, we have one sales team representing our traditional and our new media. An argument can be made that there is a large group who buy new media that don’t buy traditional media and that we are missing out on that revenue source and I think that argument has merit. When digital becomes a big enough part of what we do and can sustain its own sales department I am pretty sure we’ll end up with multiple sales teams.
MoM[S]: Wow, yours is an excellent answer; it kind of bridges all the gaps, in a way.. I think one thing I learned from the debate we had on this topic, was that from their separate perspective[s], each viewpoint had merits to their argument. And in reality, it’s such a changing area that soon the “right” answer, whatever that is, will be likely be obsolete anyway. Fun to debate & share ideas on, nonetheless.
MoM[S], continuing:This may be an oddball question, but one of the things I find about being on the TradMedia side in this era is “relevancy”, in that even if you are still selling TradMedia, you need to be current with what is going on in Outdoor, Digital, etc.. For example, even during my most recent Newspaper days that ended in 2005, the Media people I dealt with on the traditional side, wanted to talk about our perspective on the whole Media landscape, which of course included Digital. So, to be relevant [and to some extent, further justify our buys, I suspect], we had to at least be able to discuss basic aspects of the other areas of media that we didn’t even sell…or sell against, really. Do you find this to be the case with your Traditional reps in 2010?
Tim: Absolutely! Traditional media sellers are competing in the arena of ideas – just like new media sellers. To earn a living in media sales in 2010, each of us must be viewed as a resource by our customers and prospects. We wouldn’t be much of a media resource if we couldn’t speak intelligently about all the choices available.
MoM[S]:To quote from SalesLoudmouth again: “We want sellers to try as hard as they can to find qualified prospects and then gain access to the key decision makers. We want sellers to work hard to uncover needs. If we offer solutions that will help a prospect with the achievement of their marketing goals then we want sellers to never give up trying to persuade those prospects that we can help them. What we don’t want them to do is to act as if our products and services are a perfect fit for everyone. We don’t want pushy sellers who keep on trying various sales angles and techniques in an attempt to unload more product. We don’t want sellers to sell as if their primary focus is their own quota.”
Tim, this a viewpoint I very much subscribe to [and write about in various forms within other posts on MoM[S] ], and believe in. However, many times this viewpoint is not even remotely shared by others in an organization.
To ‘get real’ here [or maybe ”Keep It Real” for as much as you care to discuss this] when it comes to brass tacks: maybe a Sales team is down a bit, or the recent economy has killed a quarter’s sales figures through really no fault of yours…does this passage and its values go out the window, if you or your team has to ‘hit a number’?
The issues here can be very tough to reconcile, in that situation! How do you square this great perspective with perhaps others you may report to, that have a ‘less-enlightened’ [my words, not Tim’s] approach than yours to the Sales process?”
Tim: The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of prospects out there who are not being called on by media sellers. For the most part, we travel in packs and try to steal customers from each other. As soon as someone else’s prospect becomes a customer, they become our prospect. This sad state of affairs has us acting like hyenas who dart into a circle of lions, grab a bite of the slain zebra and then jump back and await the next opportunity to steal from the better hunters. So, while we all have numbers to hit I don’t prescribe to the belief that we have to start acting like hyenas in order to eat.
MoM[S]: Awesome answer. Thank you, Tim. Any parting thoughts, or items I missed?
Tim: You are welcome! I’d like to encourage all media sellers to do the following: 1) Gain a very good understanding of the consuming habits of your target audience. 2) Seek out prospects who have a need for your target audience and 3) Endeavor to get meetings with the decision makers so you can help them achieve their marketing objectives. This type of work is like a nutritious diet – it serves you well over the long haul.
Tim J.M. Rohrer is a husband, father and 20-year veteran of media sales. Right now, he’s thinking the media sales part is the easiest. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him stuck in traffic on the highways in and around Atlanta, GA.
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Note: Going forward, this will be an occasional Series. Future ‘dream’ guests that MoM[S] will aspire to interview will include such legendary Sales visionaries as: Tom Hopkins, Neil Rackham [of SPIN fame], and someone with a more Digital pedigree [and whom I’ve met personally], Leslie Laredo, CEO/Founder of Laredo Group.