At Improving Sales Performance, we are proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month once again.
For all of October, we have an amazing slate of women sales leaders who will be sharing their unique insights.
From offering advice for sales managers new and old to surveying the anticipated landscape of sales in the years ahead, when it comes to Improving Sales Performance, these ladies know how it's done.
Joining Matt for the entire month is Stephanie Downs, SVP & Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.
In this episode, Matt and Stephanie are joined by Jenn Scilabro, Senior Vice President Local Digital Sales at Nexstar Digital, and Traci Wilkinson, Senior Vice President/Regional Manager Broadcasting at Nexstar Media INC.
Together, Traci and Jenn share so many amazing observations. Such as:
ABOUT IMPROVING SALES PERFORMANCE:
Improving Sales Performance is hosted by Matt Sunshine who speaks with guests that are thought leaders, experts, and industry gurus, to share their insight, tips, and knowledge on various topics that help companies improve sales performance.
2:24 From your point of view what are the things you look at in the sales dept that let you know that you are on track? In other words, what are the 3 to 5 Key Performance indicators you pay attention to?
4:18 Retention vs. New Business Are we churning out salespeople?
5:12 What should sales managers be focused on? Think of it in terms of big rocks or highest priorities that they should be focusing on? Revenue of course, but what else?
5:28 Talent/growth and personal relationships.
6:12 Recruitment has to be an on ongoing part of everyday duties
6:26 How do we create the next generation of sellers?
7:32 Nexstar has a lot of markets
8:53 It’s crucial to understand the needs of the local markets
10:54 How has the role of sales managers changed in the past 5 years?
11:06 The complexity of our products
11:50 What are the road blocks that we can take away?
13:04 Describe a great sales leader
13:17 Sales leaders who lead from fear vs. Those who lead from inspiration
14:40 Think of your team like a baseball team
15:30 Advice to a brand new sales leader
15:43 Always be read to do exactly what you’re asking them to do
16:30 Learn your audience
17:50 Be the type of sales leader that your salespeople want to take out on calls.
18:43 3-5 years ahead what do you anticipate changing in sales departments?
19:06 We have to de-silo
21:59 What’s not going to change
22:52 Final thoughts
Welcome to Improving Sales Performance, a podcast highlighting tips and insights aimed at helping sales organizations realize and maybe even exceed their goals. Here we chat with thought leaders, experts in gurus who have years of sales experience from a wide range of industries. This season, we are celebrating Women in Sales month by talking to some amazing women sales pros. Joining me for the entire month of October is Stephanie Downs, SVP and senior consultant at the Center for Sales Strategy. She'll be sharing her insights along with our fabulous guests. I'm your host Matt Sunshine, managing partner at the Center for Sales Strategy, Sales Performance Consulting company.Stephanie Downs:
We're so proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month for all of October. We have an amazing slate of women's sales leaders who will be sharing their unique insights from offering advice for sales managers, new or more experienced, to discussing the anticipated landscape of sales in years ahead when it comes to improving sales performance. These ladies know how it's done. I'm Stephanie down, Senior Vice President at the Center for Sales Strategy, and I'll be joining Matt Sunshine on the show for the entire month of October. Today our guests are Jen Shala, Senior Vice President, Local Digital Sales at Next Star Digital, and Traci Wilkinson, senior Vice President, Regional Manager, broadcasting at Next Star Media. Together, Traci and Jen share so many amazing observations such as the vital importance of maintaining customer relationships while leading from inspiration will always be leading from fear, and how to be the type of sales leader that your sales people want to take out on calls.Matt Sunshine:
All right, so let's jump right in and get started. I know, Stephanie, you and I, uh, have a bunch of questions that we wanna, we want to get to, so I'll let you kick it off.Stephanie Downs:
Okay. Perfect. All right. So Traci, I'm gonna come to you first on this one. So from your point of view, when you look at, um, you know, the sales organization or an individual sales department, what are some of the key things that you look at to know you're on track? Maybe you consider it performance indicators. What do you look at?Traci Wilkinson:
Absolutely. Thank you, Stephanie. I really looked at this from, you know, looking at an individual sales manager and what they should be reviewing as performance indicators. And it's, you know, a budget across all revenue types. So we're gonna have a budget for, for linear, for digital, How are the AEs performing on each, because they're going to have each budget. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So do we have AEs that, that are doing fantastic on linear, but have no digital? So really paying attention to that. Um, what is their activity level? How full is their pipeline? Because that's, you know, obviously the runway on how we're gonna get to our numbers overall. What is their average deal size? Is that growing? Um, and I think those are really the things. Are they, are they targeting the right accounts to achieve the revenue budgets long term? Mm-hmm.Stephanie Downs:
<affirmative>. Sure. So can I ask you a follow up question on that? So looking at average deal size and all of those, is there a CRM that supports that or a dashboard? How does that happen?Traci Wilkinson:
We do somewhat, We use Matrix. So that is a system use corporate wide, and we definitely use those metrics work with our sales managers to be paying attention and getting the AE to enter the, enter the information and really use it to their advantage, because I really view that as a roadmap. And so use it for yourself. It's not just to report up, it's to help them. That'sStephanie Downs:
Right. SeeTraci Wilkinson:
How they can achieve their number.Jenn Scilabro:
Yeah. It really is. The purpose of it really is to help them make better business decisions and data driven decisions. Sellers don't always feel that way about CRMs, but that is the intent of a crm. Right. So, uh, Jenn, anything you wanna add to that one? If not, I'm gonna, I'm gonna keep going. Yeah,Jenn Scilabro:
I think we also look at, um, we look at retention versus new business. So how are we doing with accounts in terms of our growth mm-hmm.<affirmative> year, year and mm-hmm.<affirmative>. And then in terms of, you know, new businesses obviously important to every, everybody in this industry. Yeah. So we look at their performance to new business separately as well. And I think one kind of separate metric that we look at, uh, for our sales leaders is how is the retention of sellers, so on their team, are we losing and churning out sales people at, you know, a, a rate that's greater than normal mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, so it's, it's a really good measure of how well they do in terms of managing their team as well.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. I think the retention conversation has, has become way more important than it ever has been in the past. Right.<laugh>. Absolutely. That's something that it's been a struggle during the last two, two and a half years. Um, so thinking, um, Jen, I'm just gonna stay with you on this one. Thinking about, um, you know, a sales manager, what should they be focused on? I mean, you were just referencing a couple of those things, but is there anything else just from the highest priority or big rocks that they really should be looking at on a regular basis? Well,Jenn Scilabro:
I think it's, I think it's kind of three things. Um, talent growth, so overall coaching and development. Um, accountability and responsibility. Are they inspiring teams? You know, inspiring is kind of a big word we use. Um, and are they really building a culture? Cuz that's really important a to retention, but, you know, performance in terms of, of how, um, ae represent our company. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, also customer relationships. I mean, that is key. And that has to be a focus of our sales leaders across, up and down the board. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So, um, are we serving our customers best? Are we easy to do business with? Um, you know, our business is very reliant on relationships still mm-hmm.<affirmative>, so those relationships need to be at all levels of the organization. And then third, I think we've talked about this recruitment, um, that's gotta be an ongoing part of their job every single day. So filling that pallet pipeline, um, consistently upgrading their team, building that a team, um, and, and really looking at how do we create this next generation of sellers and inspiring them to come into our industry because, you know, we're, we're challenged by, um, younger people and their understanding of our business. Right. Because they're, they may not be TV watchers like the traditional That's true. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So we're, we're trying to get them to really be excited about the broadcast industry and what it does. You know, we, we obviously are pla platform agnostic. We're content creators and content deliverers to local communities. So how do we get them to be, um, you know, really excited about coming into mm-hmm.<affirmative>, uh, a place where, where we have a mission, you know, and supporting they love mission. Right. They love to be part of something bigger. Mm-hmm.Stephanie Downs:
<affirmative>. That is so true. And it, that is, it is harder. And I know a lot of companies are trying to pay attention to how do we really attract kind of that next level into the organization cuz they consume our products very differently than, than maybe what all of us on this<laugh> podcast did. Right. So, And Matt, you're gonna add something?Matt Sunshine:
Yeah. So I have a follow up question and, and I think this would be for, for both Traci and Jen. So I, I really like, um, it's, it's, it's exciting to hear your answers cause it's, it's refreshing. Um, I, I like Traci with, you know, budget attainment, pipeline activity, average deal size and using technology or a system to, to do that. Um, that, that makes sense to me. And, and, uh, Jen with, you know, uh, accountability and inspiring and having an amazing culture, talent development, customer relationships, and recruitment, those all resonate. What I'm interested in, and, and we're fortunate to have you all with us today, you have a lot of markets.Jenn Scilabro:
We do<laugh>,Matt Sunshine:
We have a lot of markets. Is is this, I know everyone performs at a different level. That's not what I'm asking. Is the drumbeat consistent across all of that? Not that we're running McDonald's franchises, nothing wrong with McDonald's franchise, but we're not running McDonald's franchise. But is the drumbeat on, hey, these are the most important things consistent? Or is there a lot of flexibility between the markets, which is, which works best for you guys?Traci Wilkinson:
Hmm. You know, I think it's actually that's a good point, Matt. It's a really good balance. I think there, there are some things where that drumbeat is clear, this is how we do it, and this is a piece of your culture that this is across the company. So new direct business development focus on our core o and o digital products that is, you know, 100% universal. I think it's, so the what is there, the how I think is variable. Got it. Um, and certainly it really is encouraging people to understand the needs of their local market. And that is really the strength of what nexar has been built on. We have not, we haven't homogenized, this is how you do it across every single market, across every single, um, type of thing. You know, whether it be news content or whether it be new direct business development. Yes, there's systems that we expect you to use, but how you do it depends on your team dynamics.Jenn Scilabro:
Yeah. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, I'd say, I'd say 80% of what we do is consistent because it can be done at scale mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, but there's this 20% of, of localism, um, that has to be because the markets are very different. You know, you look at Dothan, Alabama versus New York City, you have a different level of talent, a different, you know, expectation in terms of revenue, different types of clients mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Right. So really looking at how, letting that general manager and, and the sales leadership inside identify their strengths and really, really, you know, lead to that, manage to that so that they can, um, provide the best results. Mm-hmm.Matt Sunshine:
<affirmative>, that makes, that makes sense. Absolutely. Like having good customer relationships is important everywhere. How you do it in Dothan might be different than how you do it in New York.Jenn Scilabro:
Exactly. You might seem a GM beyond appointments, right. With mm-hmm.<affirmative> with, uh, customers.Traci Wilkinson:
Yeah, sure. WhereJenn Scilabro:
Maybe in New York and some of the larger markets, it's not as possible. Or we have a another layer of leadership, sales leadership that, that take on that role. So it just really depends.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. So I wanna spend a minute just thinking about how the role of a sales leader or a sales manager has changed. I mean, you know, if we look back five years ago versus today, Traci, gimme some insight. What are some of the biggest differences you see there?Traci Wilkinson:
Just the complexities. I mean, the sophistication of our products. You know, every day there's something new and how does that sales manager stay on top of all of those things? And also, you know, driving that down through the organization, having hae really grasp and understanding the full benefit of our suite of products, I think that has become the most, you know, one of the most complicated things that they need to be paying attention to on a daily basis. And then you take technology and utilizing the systems that we have in place and, you know, future proofing, uh, you know, our technology down the road and not everybody is great at it. Right. So it's, it's, it's also asking the questions. You know, I ask of my, my GMs and of their teams, it's what are the roadblocks that we are, can we take out of the way? Like really listening if someone is saying, Okay, this is, this is really hard, this is really a challenging thing to navigate, we have to listen to that. Yeah. You know, we can't just like big foot things down and, and just keep, keep going. It'sJenn Scilabro:
Stop down for a minute and pay attention. But IJenn Scilabro:
Think I'm gonna makeStephanie Downs:
Sure it's all getting there.Jenn Scilabro:
<laugh>. Right. You know,Traci Wilkinson:
The sophistication on the products, I think is the thing that jumps out atJenn Scilabro:
Me. Yeah. I think in addition to that, you know, with having more access to data, it's, it's demanded that we sell differently mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So we, we, we have to have, um, sellers and managers who are really good at understanding data and how it, um, how it delivers the story. Right. Try to tell that story and use that data. Yeah. And, and we're really, we've really moved from selling, um, delivery, which was what we did. We, we delivered ads to now selling performance mm-hmm.<affirmative> and roi. So that takes a bit of a different brain and a different way of, of really proving, um, your value, right? Mm-hmm.<affirmative>.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. Yes. Absolutely. That, um, that was well said. So, um, describe a great sales leader. Um, I could already pick some of the things that you've been saying, but describe a great sales leader. Jen, why don't you go first and then Traci, I'll come to you next.Jenn Scilabro:
Yeah. I, I mean, to me, and I, I say this, we were, we were the original influencers, right? I mean, uh, our business and I think our sales leaders who lead by inspiration and versus fear are really, Yeah. That's to me a critical piece cuz you know, people want to follow people that inspire them mm-hmm.<affirmative>. And if we can inspire a culture of, um, of account executives to perform for us and perform for themselves and perform for their community and their advertisers, um, I think that sales leader has done a good job.Traci Wilkinson:
Yeah. Traci, anything you would add?Traci Wilkinson:
I would add, I mean, I think the things that I really look for would be emotional intelligence and then true integrity and wanting to serve the clients needs first. And also, you know, their internal clients with the sales people and understanding, again, those obstacles or things that might be getting in their way and also, you know, laying things out that, that motivates them. You know, so everybody's motivated differently, everybody sees the world differently and that we're all part of a wheel. We don't have to be all the same and approach everything the same. So being able to be dynamic and, you know, change on the fly to accommodate is really important.Jenn Scilabro:
Yeah. Not every, not every sales person, um, is reacts to the same things. They're not inspired by the same things, incentivized by the same thing. So being able to use that emotional intelligence to look at each, you know, look at your team as a baseball team, and you have a great pitcher and a great catcher. They all help you perform and win the game, but they might have different skills that, that help you do that. Right. Right. NewsMatt Sunshine:
Flash, news flash. Not every salesperson likes a contest.Jenn Scilabro:
That's right.Matt Sunshine:
Hope that's not working news. Right. But I think a lot of times, um, managers, especially when they're early in the management and maybe they like contests, that's a great example of not understanding what motivates each individual person. Yeah. So you're a manager. You always like the sales contest. When you are a salesperson, you come and say, we're gonna do a sales contest and, you know, half the room rolls their eyes, something.Stephanie Downs:
So you were, um, onboarding a brand new sales leader into the organization. Um, what advice would you give'em, Traci, what would you say to'em?Traci Wilkinson:
Well, I think, um, you know, always be ready to, to do exactly what you're asking them to do. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So, you know, I was in a position, I started as a sales assistant. And so coming up through that, you've, you've done every role and I feel like that's an important thing to have empathy for and intelligence around so that you know what you're asking and then, you know, fully understand your products. Again, you know, so many times you come in from the linear side or the digital side and you just, you know, you really understand that, but you have to fully understand everything so that your team believes in you Yeah. And wants to take you on calls and realize that they do take you on calls. It's gonna help them<laugh>.Stephanie Downs:
Yes. Cause they want, they want that help on calls. So I hate they want you to bring value to that. Yeah. Jen, how about you?Jenn Scilabro:
I think, um, you know, to Traci's point, you know, learning, learning audience and how to sell audience versus product, even taking it, taking it up a level to say we have audiences that we connect with, you know, we're the, the fastest pathway for a local advertiser and a local consumer to connect mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So leveraging the power of that, um, and having that be, you know, just really the foundation of what we do. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, um, and then focusing on data. Le letting data help us make decisions, but not getting paralyzed by it. Right. You know, so, so so often you see, uh, sales leaders sitting behind computers and just being paralyzed by spreadsheets and data and not knowing how to actually activate that with teams. So I think that would, that would be advice I would give and really just critical focus. Yeah. Cause we, we do have so many initiatives mm-hmm.<affirmative> so many, you know, budget lines, initiatives, projects, um, you know, lay in a a either a bad economy or a health epidemic, you know, and there are a lot of balls in the air. So keeping the team like ex extremely focused so that they're not really, you know, injured by having too many balls in the air and, and really like nothing gets done well. Right.Matt Sunshine:
Put an exclamation point on something Traci said. Cause I think it's, so, it's really spot on. And I think that, I think that if this is a good message to send, but be the type of sales leader that your sales people wanna take out on calls.Jenn Scilabro:
So, seriously, so simple but so eloquent. Right? Yeah. I mean that's really, if you're the type of sales leader that your sales people want to take you out on calls, you're doing a lot of things right.Stephanie Downs:
Something's going well. Yeah.Matt Sunshine:
<laugh>. Absolutely. I love that. I love that.Stephanie Downs:
And if you're not, you probably ought to step back and think That'sMatt Sunshine:
Right. Cause the flip flip, ifStephanie Downs:
You're the salesMatt Sunshine:
Leader, no one wants to take you out on calls.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, yeah. Have a little, self-awarenessMatt Sunshine:
Is not your sales people's problem.Jenn Scilabro:
Very true. Very true. Yeah.Stephanie Downs:
That's exactly. Okay. So let's take a look forward is so, I mean, we know obviously our business has changed a lot over the last handful of years. Right? But if you really look out three, four, or five years, what do you anticipate in sales departments to change? Or, um, things that just may be different in general? Uh, Jen, you wanna start first on thisJenn Scilabro:
One? Yeah. I think, um, one of the biggest things is we're we're going to dec we have to des, um, because again, we sell audiences on multiple platforms mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So I think, you know, in, in some cases you have and, and I have a team that's digitally focused. Right. But I think we're gonna get to a point where all sales leaders are responsible for all the products. So it's no different than, you know, many, many years ago you didn't just have sales managers selling specific programs. Right. That's right. It's kind of like really looking at it from a different layer. Like everybody has responsibility and accountability, and I think that means that our teams are really gonna grow because we have, uh, you know, so many options to sell. We need to stop just looking at how to sell against our broadcast competitors. Yeah. We need to open our, you know, minds to the billions of dollars that's out there in digital spend and, you know, build teams that can actually attack that mm-hmm.<affirmative> and, you know, it, it may not be 10 or 12 sales people in the future in a station 20 or 25. Yeah. So I can see more sales managers, you know, being at that level where they have to understand and, and really under, uh, you know, train to and coach to all products, uh, across the board and have a focus team that they can really Yeah. Really aid in a bed to, to be performant.Stephanie Downs:
Well, and it's like you said, um, earlier related to another question to be more product agnostic, right? Right. Um, but our sales structures have to support that. Our compensation plans have to support that, you know, the trainings that we do have to support that. I mean, there's other things that have to come into play, really make that happen. Right? Sure.Jenn Scilabro:
The productivity tools that, you know, there are lots of tools out there that our teams need access to, to be able to, uh, streamline and give us sales velocity. Right. Streamline the experience, you know, stop the swivels between chairs, between systems, and, um, and I think that will really help, you know, get some traction. And the other thing too, and next star really benefits from this with our scale mm-hmm.<affirmative> is being able to sell cross DMAs, you know? Yeah. I think when we look at the digital audiences, um, our in DMA traffic, so the, the audiences that are in our DMAs that are viewing our websites, I mean, it's pretty 50 50 and I think that's pretty standard across the industry. So how are we leveraging, um, you know, with the scale that we have, like in North Carolina, for example, you know, the multiple stations we have, how do we, how do we leverage them helping sell each other's stuff, you know, clients who they have direct relationships with, so that we can really maximize the value of each seller's time with those clients and that,Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. So Traci, what would you add to that about just kind of the looking forward and changes to come?Traci Wilkinson:
I think I would go to the flip side of that on the thing that, that's not gonna change. And that's kind of that spark in the salesperson's mind of, I have an idea and I'm gonna call this client because I have an idea that I know is going to get them results. That's, and so continuing to train on how to get them to the door and break through, because obviously that tech side of things is be going to become Fort Knox and more complicated on getting her to the decision maker. But you know, that piece in your heart of, I have that idea and I have to talk to this person to sell it, that's not gonna change and that's what we have to do fostering.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. I love that you took the flip side of that, um,<laugh>. Cause I do. I really, I really, Yeah, I really like that. But you're right. What's, what's not going to change is our drive to deliver client results. Yeah. I mean, the end goal that is always going to be the case. So I love that you took the flip side of that<laugh>. So Matt, what do you wanna add?Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, no, I, I love, I I agree curiosity and, and I, I ideation are, are so important. And Stephanie, to what you just said, I mean, while many things have changed, and we certainly don't sell the same things that we sold 10 years ago, and certainly 10 years from now, I can only imagine what we will be selling. But we always have been in the business of helping businesses grow their business, and that is consistent that that will not change if we do that well, a lot of good things will always happen. Yeah. Hey, thank you so much Jen and Traci both for joining us. I know that you have a lot of things going on in your world right now, but taking 20, 25 minutes to spend some time with us, really appreciate it. For anyone that would like to get in contact with either Jen or Traci, we will leave all of their, uh, LinkedIn and socials in the, in the show notes. So you'll have that there. Um, and we look forward to, uh, to talking to you again, talking, uh, seeing everyone, or I guess everyone, listen,Speaker 5:
Hearing, listening,<laugh>Matt Sunshine:
Listening on the next episode of, uh, Improving Sales Performance Podcast.Speaker 5:
Thank you. Thank you for havingMatt Sunshine:
This has been improving sales performance. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, join us every week by clicking that subscribe button. For more on the topics covered in the show, visit our website, the center for sales strategy.com. There you can find helpful resources and content aimed at improving your sales performance. And if you'd like to connect with any of us, including today's guests, please do. You can find our contact information in the show notes. Until next time, get out there and sell.