As I explored all that the NAB’s Small Market Television Exchange had to offer, I heard time and time again the desire for local stations to evolve their way of selling beyond the “package”. And since “evolve” was the theme of this year’s meeting, I thought it would be appropriate to explore this topic.
Station sales representatives are tasked to sell a never-ending supply of packages. Packages seem appealing because they combine a station’s TV inventory with their digital products. The package may also tie in a theme and feature a singular price tag wrapped together in a PDF. With one package sold, you are one step closer to hitting all your revenue goals. However, the packages never stop coming, and they rarely achieve the results you’d like provide your clients.
Before I joined the local team at Comscore, I had been an Account Executive at a station in a top 30 market. While selling my station’s programming and products, I always shied away from selling packages. Selling a package would help me hit my numbers for one month, but it was a sure fired way to get a client to say the dreaded, “I tried TV once, and it didn’t work.” I wanted to avoid that at all costs. Therefore, I took to my research tools and focused in on selling advanced demographics by creating proposals entirely informed by the data. But I was in the minority. Some of my coworkers that thrived in selling packages, had also stayed late and struggled to hit their numbers. I always presumed that the old mindset of package-based selling was to blame.
Creating a package requires an enormous amount of work from the station’s sales management teams. They want to create a desirable deal, but they are motivated to sell specific inventory, and include rates that must be high enough to clear the books. Then they need to format the package together which can cause quite a headache for stations who are technologically challenged. This creation process requires time from management that may be better spent attending sales calls with their staff.
During the sales process, if there are no obvious contextual or thematic tie-ins to their clients or prospects, the sales representatives can go on an endless search to find someone who is willing to give TV a chance. In my opinion their time would be better spent cultivating a realistic process, consulting with them about their needs, and putting together a marketing plan that considers the research that they have at their fingertips. By using this consultative approach, they build real relationships, and guide their client to success by ensuring that their clients’ needs have been taken into account in the creation of the marketing campaign. This approach typically will result in a long-term commitment from the client, which will be better for the AE, the station, and the advertiser.
Still, if phasing out package selling is not in the cards for your station, you can still use tools like Comscore’s StationViewEssentials to assess the strengths of each package. If you can confidently locate the strengths of your combined programs and assets, you can proactively sell these packages to relevant verticals, and acquire the short-term deals you are hoping to close.
Anyone can evolve into a more successful account executive. And listening to your client will not only result in their success, but you will benefit by growing your knowledge of their business and vertical, while also reaping long-term financial benefits. Let’s evolve!