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.
Today, our guest is Kim Guthrie, Division President for iHeartMedia Florida.
Kim brings up so many valuable topics. 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.
2:19 What are three to five things that you look at across the sales organization to really know if you're on track from an organizational standpoint?
4:46 Pipeline Management Vs. Pending Management
5:41 Transactional Business Vs. Developmental Business
8:55 Talent will always, always, always be the most important thing
10:40 Having the "hard conversation" is important
12:48 Sales leaders need an optimistic spirit
14:50 You can't teach those innate talents.
17:08 How has the role of a sales leader changed over the last three to five years?
18:32 The amazing opportunity of not being inventory constrained
23:19 The pro's and con's of having so many tools and resources (golf club analogy)
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, a sales performance consult 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 experience to discussing the anticipated landscape of sales and 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 guest is Kim Guthrie, Division President for iHeart Media, Florida. Kim brings up so many valuable topics such as the importance of forming developmental relationships with your clients, the importance of building trust with you, and being a sustaining resource for your team, and how it's necessary to always be recruiting new talent.Matt Sunshine:
Okay, let's jump in. I know we're super excited about this, this episode, and, uh, so let's just do it, Stephanie.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, sounds good. Um, okay, so Kim, um, years of experience, obviously. So tell me, um, tell me three or four or five things that you look at across the sales organization or even down to the department level that you look at on a consistent basis to really know if you're on track from an organizational standpoint.Kim Guthrie:
Sure. So, uh, we, we happen to use Salesforce at iHeart, so there's all sorts of metrics, in fact, Yeah, we measure lots of things I didn't even know you could measure, but, um, couple of the really important, um, you know, I guess soundbites for me are there's a way of listing activities and opportunities, uh, by salesperson. So you kind of know what's in the pipeline and if the activities are down or the opportunities are down...So an activity is technically like a, a meeting or an email that you've got, um, you know, in process with a prospect or a client mm-hmm.<affirmative>. And then an opportunity is an actual proposal or a pitch to the customer. So if you've got a good number of those two metrics going, then that's usually pretty indicative of what's gonna come out of the other end of the pipe. So you've gotta have stuff going in to come out, but, um, that's a big measure here. Uh, but I think in terms of things that are not, maybe if you're not on Salesforce, um, I'm always looking at new business. You know, attrition is something that unfortunately happens in sales no matter what, what you're selling, but in media for sure. Um, and are you bringing in new business to kind of make up for the attrition? The other thing is I like to see growth from key accounts. So it's one thing to have a really big customer, but it's a nice thing to see, you know, how many things are you actually selling to this customer? Are they simply buying broadcast? Are they buying just digital? And I think we've had a pretty good luck, um, no matter where I've worked, if you have someone buying broadcast plus digital, that usually is a pretty good sign and, uh, is a customer is less likely, likely to churn. Um, and usually it's because they're getting better results when they use the piece. That's, so I think that's a huge piece is you've got someone that's not just buying one thing, but but buying a variety of your products, it tends to work better.Stephanie Downs:
Those are kinda, I mean, there's a million things, but those are, those are big, big ones. Sure.Stephanie Downs:
Well, and I mean, you know this as well as anybody, there's a ton we could track. Right? Right. There's a whole lot of things we can look at. It doesn't mean we should look at everything really. If you're paying attention to three, four, or five, that's probably good enough.Kim Guthrie:
Exactly. I've often said just because you can measure it doesn't mean we need that. You know?Stephanie Downs:
That's exactly right. ThereKim Guthrie:
Are a lot of things we can measure. Yeah.Stephanie Downs:
At some point it just may be too many bells ringing to track everything. Right.Matt Sunshine:
Let me jump in real quick. Yeah. Cause it's interesting in doing so many of these podcasts we're, we're learning a lot, right? We're learning a lot from people like Kim and experts that are leading business. One of the things that's come up again and again is pipeline management, right? Understanding the activities, the opportunities, the emails, the, the meetings, and realizing that all of those take place, um, that are important. And, and it's different when you talk to, um, sometimes sales managers that are just looking at what's pending. And I think there's a big difference between pending management and pipeline management.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, forMatt Sunshine:
Sure. And, and I'm glad you brought that up.Kim Guthrie:
We're also gonna, I think, start measuring the difference between developmental business and transactional business. And both are really important, but I guess the clients, I feel like I've had the better relationship with, or have felt more of a partner versus just a vendor. And I'm speaking more from, you know, the, the, the seller side than the buyer side. But I, when I'm just a vendor, I don't, I don't like that feeling that it feels very fungible or transactional. And when I'm a partner, I do feel like that's where you develop a trust and it's beyond just, um, yeah, oh, I came up with a good idea. They bought one time. But really when they start to see you as a sustaining resource and a member of their team, I think that's ultimately, uh, tho those are the sales people, and those are the clients that truly last for a really long time at the, the ups and downs of the, you know, economic downturn or, um, you know, name a million other reasons, everything, ratings go up or down, But when you really feel like you've got a developmental, uh, partnership with someone that's beyond the vendor and you're a resource that's, that's really key. But it's hard to measure that, you know, that's really subject. Was that transactional or is that developmental? Well, maybe it started as a transaction and it turned, it turned into, you know, something beyond that. But it's hard to measure, and we're gonna try to do that, uh, going forward in our company. That'd beStephanie Downs:
Interesting. Yeah, it is. It is hard to measure. I think it's an important measure, but it is hard to measure. So I'm curious by looking at that, I mean, I could make some, you know, observations or assumptions with that, but by measuring that, are you thinking about how that could impact the organization? Obviously from a revenue standpoint, but are you thinking about making changes in the organization for maybe a sales structure once you learn more of that? Or is it just more to support the cause? What's your thinking with that?Kim Guthrie:
Yeah, that's a great question. Um, I think maybe a little of both. Yeah. If you wanna know, how much control do you have over things? And sometimes certain sales are just harder, and so should it be paid more, you know, or, and sometimes it, maybe a sale is easier and should it be compensated accordingly. Sure. I think that's, that's part of it. You know, I think CSS is long said, you know, people do what you pay them to do. Yeah. I've said that about a thousand times over my career while you're paying them to do the easy stuff. So why do you expect them to do the, to do the hard stuff? You gotta pay'em more to do things that are hard. So That's right. It could be part of that too, is how do we align compensation there.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. And we know the developmental businesses, it's hard. It's not always easy. It, it takes more work and there's more steps involved and Right. We should reward that. So, Absolutely. Yeah. So thinking about, um, sales leaders and just thinking about the, the managers themselves, what are their, their biggest rocks or their highest priorities day in and day out?Kim Guthrie:
Well, I love that talent times manager equals productivity or whatever that is. So, you know, you can have a really amazing sales manager, but if you've got a bunch of C-talent as sellers, you know, it doesn't almost matter how great the sales manager is. Uh, we use a lot of phrases like, you know, it's not about a genius and a thousand helpers. You know, one really good sales manager is not gonna be enough to offset really average sales talent. So I'd rather have, um, really good sales talent. And I think that's, uh, really important. Sometimes you can have an A that's turned into a C because they got lazy or they stopped working hard or whatever, or they got, they just got some really nice accounts and they're all, you know, humming along. And then maybe they forget to keep planting the seeds for new business down the road. But I, I think, think talent will always, always, always be the most important thing. And I've always felt that radio sales people, you know, you're selling an intangible. So that scrappy kind of mindset that tends to come with the industry is a big piece of what makes radio successful. And, and let's face it, we've had a lot of, uh, headwinds over the years and lots of competition, the Spotifys and the Pandoras and all of the different ways to get music or get content. And so, you know, how do you cut through all that? It's really about the sales people that can figure it out. Can, can you go in, can you get a good conversation going with a customer and find out where their pain points are and how we can solve that? Yeah. So I think it still comes down to great people and having the right number of, of smart mm-hmm.<affirmative>, you know, go getters on your team. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. There's no doubt that it's about talent. Um, and having, you know, the fit part of that, right? The fit for the organization and fit for the role that they're in. And I think today an added layer on that, it's always been important, but we're, we're hearing a lot of this and seeing a lot of it, it's retaining our top talent, right? And also recruiting for new talent and making sure that we have, you know, really strong talent banks. Cuz there's a lot of ebb and flow with that right now. And I'm, I suspect you're probably seeing the same thing.Kim Guthrie:
Yeah. I think it's, um, I've always kind of been an internally focused manager looking, you know, within my organization, this is what I can affect. And, you know, if the economy's bad or we're going into a recession or whatever, I, I wanna keep my people happy and motivated and held accountable. So it's a little of both. You've gotta retract, but you've got to attract great talent, recruit them, and then keep'em motivated once they're here. But I, I've always felt very strongly about a, you know, this should be a safe haven. You, you come home to the station in the old days, I guess now you can work from home. But, um, you, you, that was supposed to be a place of safety and team and, um, feeling supported. And, and again, you know, sometimes we have to have a tough conversation, but accountability comes with that. And it doesn't have to to be negative when you're holding folks accountable. And I think there's always a, that's a, a conflict in a lot of people's heads. Oh, if I say that, that's gonna hurt their feelings or, and I, I liken it to being a parent. You know, you don't say that about your kids, so I can't have that hard conversation. Yeah, you're gonna have that hard conversation.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, you are!Matt Sunshine:
It doesn't mean I love you any less, but we're gonna have the conversation.Kim Guthrie:
Quite the opposite means I love you more that I actually care enough to have.Stephanie Downs:
That's right. That's exactly right's. Exactly. Right.Kim Guthrie:
Yeah. But it's amazing how often people are afraid of having that sort of conversation. Yeah. And therefore, you may get someone who's been around for a long time and they're just kind of"mailing it in" isn't the right phrase, but they're, they're just not bringing their A-game like they used to. And how do you have that conversation? Some managers simply just will not do it. They're like, just happy they're showing up. Well, you know,Stephanie Downs:
They're not helping their team or their people if they're not having the conversation. But you're right, accountability's not a negative thing. Accountability is a very positive thing when it's done the right way. It Should be.Kim Guthrie:
But, we've all probably worked for that person who doesn't know how to make it a positive.Stephanie Downs:
We can have an entire podcast on that aloneMatt Sunshine:
That's not called a podcast. That's a therapy session.Kim Guthrie:
And they have PTSD from the old days.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. So that, um, you know, taking that conversation of thinking about a really good leader has those conversations. What else does a great leader have? So you're recruiting for a leader in the organization. I mean, what are the things that you're looking at that you know, today that a great leader has to do or have skills, talent, experience, all the above?Kim Guthrie:
So for, for me, one of the most important is, uh, sense of positivity. It's really hard right now. It's always going to be hard. And so I don't need you to tell me the 15 reasons that this is really hard. I I I know it is.Stephanie Downs:
Positivity, you know, the optimist that will just figure it out. I, that's really important. At least in, in my world, that's very important to me. Sure. And not just for sales or managers, but just pretty much anybody on the team. I, I don't like friendly fire, you know? If there's an enemy to be crushed, it's not in the building, it's somewhere else. So let's go, let's go beat out those guys up, not ourselves. So positivity is a big one. I, I love, uh, if you're a sales manager, a business thinking is absolutely required because you make so many dis and general management too, because you're making decisions all day long. And so you've just kinda, you have to just fire that that way. And some people don't have any sense of that. They don't have a sense of a good deal versus a bad deal or how to eyeball something and see the profitability in it, or that this isn't really a good, it's a$15,000 order, but it has, you know, 5,000 of hard costs. Then we have to commission the person. Well that's, that's a really big chunk of that buy. I don't know that I wanna take that, but some people don't. They're just not wired that way. So business thinking, um, I love courage as a, a trait in in people. I think you've got, because courage is what we talked about earlier, how do you hold people accountable? Yeah. It's courage to have those hard conversations. Yeah. Or, um, you know, put someone up on a PIP and, and we've seen people go on a PIP that have come off it and they just didn't know they weren't performing. And so there's a kind and very direct way to have that conversation without destroying the person in the process. So I think having that ability to have a lot of feedback ongoing is, is gonna get the best out of your people and you, and sometimes it takes a pretty big dose of courage to have that mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So those are, those are my biggest work ethic is an obvious one. You know, that the traits that cannot be taught, you have to that and yeah, I can teach you the radio business or a 60 or 30 or digital or, or whatever else That's right. That's in the vernacular of our business. But I can't teach you to get out of bed in the morning and be motivated and have discipline and, and be someone that people like to work with. That's, that's a biggie.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. You can't teach those innate talents. Right. You can help, you know, skills and experience and training and all of those things, but at the core you need people with that. I love the, the list positivity, business thinking, courage, work ethic. Yeah. Really great ways to describe a strong leaders. And we have to have that today.Kim Guthrie:
I think so too. And it's funny when you think about digital and some of the new things that are being added to our sales people's list of things to sell. But, um, I never was one that really, a lot of people are good in sales, but not good at detail or focus. You know, they might be kind of a little flock of loose parts, uh, but when it comes to digital, that's really requiring more analytical skills. Mm-hmm. And that's, you know, once you make the sale, the, the work really begins. So that's requiring a couple different traits that you typically wouldn't see in someone who can sell good radio advertising. A lot of radio, you sell the schedule, you turn in the production order and you leave and you go out and sell the next screen<laugh>. So the focus and attention to detail isn't quite firing or needing to fire, like it would be for even someone in accounting as an example. But I think digital's changing that a little bit. So you'll see, I think more, uh, and we are seeing that more of the, um, you know, analytical person is able to do better I think in selling digital because there are so many different parts that go to it. It's not just being, you know, conceptually, um, selling, you know, that that person who can sell the idea and then leave it to someone else to execute. Yeah. Digital is not like that at all. It's really about detail KPIs that can actually be achieved, You know, managing the campaign, that's a very different, you still have to have, I think, you know, you've gotta have the ability to talk to strangers and work ethic and all of those things and know a good deal from a bad deal. But that an analytical piece is something that's just a little different I think for today's salesperson. Mm-hmm.<affirmative> versus, um, someone who maybe sold 20 years ago.Stephanie Downs:
For sure. It is<laugh>, so, For sure. So staying on that topic, so thinking about a sales leader and the things they need today, um, how has their role really changed over and being more analytical would be an example of that, or the need to be that? How has the role changed over the last three to five years versus today?Kim Guthrie:
Uh, we've got, uh, one sales manager in particular in my division that's just amazing at, um, the digital piece of it. He's super supportive of it, really understands how to help teach sales people how to sell digital as an add on or as a, as the more important piece even of a campaign, um, in addition to broadcast. So I think today's good sales manager, today's really good sales manager is gonna have to understand that, that this is about a media mix and not just, you know, peddling spots like the old days or doing a remote and come on down to the car dealership and get a free slice of pizza. It's, it's very, uh, I think it's far more complex than it used to be. And so the best sales managers will understand, um, how to help a, you know, I, I think of a salesperson goes out, they have the sales call, they come back with kind of a good list of needs and problems that they're trying to solve. And a good sales manager will say, Well, here's what we should do. Uh, what if you did this and this and this? And then will actually help, you know, kind of build the idea so the seller can go back and pitch it. And then pretty soon the salesperson goes, Okay, I've done that several times. I know how to do that now. I don't need my sales manager as well. Uh, but sometimes you'll find sales managers who don't really embrace the, the new world and the new products. And my gosh, at iHeart, we have a huge portfolio of things way beyond advertising on, on the radio. So if you don't understand podcasting or events or the ability to sell a campaign across any market in, into anybody, I mean, you, you're no longer confined, Oh, I work in Tallahassee, Florida. I can only sell local customers here. And that's just not the case. I mean, if you're, um, working for this company, you can sell anything to any, anyone in any market. So it's, it's really kind of unlocked, I think the value of the portfolio that iHeart has 850 stations, hundred and 50 markets. And if you happen to have a great relationship with, you know, this, this manufacturer or something, you can sell an entire campaign, do it company. It's pretty cool. But that's just so different from, you know, here's I'm selling, you know, the Fox 96.9 or whatever, and this is my one station. So it's, to understand the breadth of all of those offerings is, it can be overwhelming cuz it's a lot of stuff, a lot of it's interesting. One, Oh, go ahead Matt. I'll come back.Matt Sunshine:
Gonna just follow up on that. One of the big differences that you're pointing out is it used to be that we were a, a sales rep was inventory constrained, right? Cause all you have is commercials to sell you limited of what you play and geographically constrained. And now your, your inventory is not constrained because you have so many products that, that you can sell so many resources and to your point that you can sell everywhere. It really does open up an opportunity for folks that are, um, really results focused and want to help businesses grow their business. Right. It's an amazing opportunity.Kim Guthrie:
Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Yeah. That's probably my favorite thing. I know this is not supposed to be a pitch for iHeart, but<laugh>, but it's pretty neat that you can, um, you know, it used to be when I would find a really great up and coming salesperson and I used Tallahassee as a a reason, or as an example because I met someone there that thought, Wow, this guy is really outstanding. In the old days I would've thought I gotta get him outta here to a bigger market where he can make a bigger impact and sell things with more zeros behind it. But now he, he doesn't have to move from Tallahassee. He can stay right there and sell these multi-market campaigns and he, he doesn't have to move. I think that's really exciting because I started off in Lacrosse, Wisconsin as a radio sales rep. You know, it was$10 spots and the only way to, to, to really do better. And I loved living there, but I had to move to a bigger city and then I moved from there to another big city. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So I think that's, uh, that will change radio I think as a whole, at least for some companies that have that ability to, to sell across the whole company. But that's kind of neat. I think that's a pretty, pretty neat, uh, point of differentiation. Yeah,Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, for sure. And having all of those assets and all of those tools and resources, it just helps us serve the clients better and deliver better results. It's interesting that you use the word, um, complex cuz that has been a theme in all of the podcasts that we've been doing recently. Almost every single sales leader has used the word it's more complex than it's ever been, or it's some version of that. And it is, I mean it for a lot of different reasons and a lot of the different things that we're describing. Um, but thinking about that we know how much our industry has changed over the last handful of years. You know, what do you think is gonna be different in the next, you know, three years, four years, five years? How do you see it continuing to evolve?Kim Guthrie:
Well, I think radio's always had an issue or, um, you know, the, the downside is that we've not been able to prove ROI. And I do think attribution will Yeah. Will need to come. I mean, we're, we're, we've, it's come a long way already from where it used to be, where you're just like, Well, how many cars did you sell? I mean, that was our, you know, our,Stephanie Downs:
It was good at the time!Kim Guthrie:
It snowed that weekend. Okay. Uh, but, but I think that, I think we've come a long way and I think we will continue to, to figure that out as an industry. And we have to, because when people buy digital, they know that it achieved these KPIs or it didn't. And I think that's where, of course you have to also set the right KPIs. And I think that's been interesting for me to figure out, well, how do you, who says that's a fair kpi? We came up with that. Um, so I think that's gonna be part of it too for radio. Uh, we will have to set the right expectations at the front end, the schedule, and then how do you measure, how do you actually show that, you know, this customer heard this commercial and turned around and bought the wind within an hour or whatever. But I think attribution's gonna, it's just gonna have to be, um, you know, more refined. And I think that will make it less complex because people will say, Oh, I know what I'm getting when I buy this, but Right. I think it's still kind of, you know, they, they're praying that it works. Um, and I think too, you know, the complex piece we talked about it, it's a, it's a, you know, the, it's an, it's like your strength is always your weakness. The strength is we have all these cool things to sell. The weaknesses, it's,Stephanie Downs:
We have all these cool things to sellKim Guthrie:
<laugh> where to start, If you had to go out and play golf today and here's your bag of clubs, you'd and you'd never played before. You're like, I don't know what I'm doing, but well, here's all the, these are all the clubs you'll ever need. Well, I don't, you know, I don't know what to do. Yeah. What's what's the difference between a nine iron and a three iron? And I think that's, um, that's an education, but I think that's also a pain point. It's, it's cool to have all of this stuff, but where do you begin? And there's also then more chances for things to go wrong if, if you got a multipronged Yeah. Pitch. Uh, it's not like you just sold a schedule for five grand, you ran the 20 spots end a story like it used to beStephanie Downs:
<laugh>. That's right.Kim Guthrie:
Now it's like, oh gosh, you've got all these moving parts. We've got an event, we've got podcasting, we've got commercials, we've got, you know, display. And it getsStephanie Downs:
To be Yeah. But that, that just holds true to the point of, uh, the importance of having the right sales leaders that understand all of that and can really simplify it for the team.Kim Guthrie:
Right. AndStephanie Downs:
Deliver. And we have to do it, It all has to get done right. But we've gotta have leaders that can really help with the messaging and setting the right expectations and and managing the complexities of our business today. Yeah. Matt, any final thoughts you wanna add for questions?Matt Sunshine:
Yeah. Um, let me, let me wrap it up like this. I, I always like to, at the end of the podcast, think about some of the key takeaways, um, that the least that I had as I was taking notes. Uh, I, I think you, when Kim when you pointed out the importance of the developmental business versus transactional business, albeit super hard to to, to really quantify that, but I'm confident to figure it out. But when you can build trust and be that sustaining resource versus just make a transaction, I think that that's, that's really, really important. I mean, that could be an entire podcast just on, on that subject. And then the, the other thing that you said that I wrote down and, you know, we all have, the three of us certainly all feel this way. Talent is, will always be always, always, always the most important thing. Yeah. Right. I mean, and I think those two things and, and we've known each other a long time. I know those things to be your truth, right? I mean, those, those two things are your, are your truth. And I, and I just can't thank you enough for taking your time. I know you got a lot of things going on, um, taking your time to join us. It means a lot that you did. Um, I thought the information you shared was fantastic. If anyone listening wants to connect with Kim, we will put her LinkedIn information in the show notes so they can reach out to you. I'm sure that's okay with you. I know, of course. You like that. And, uh,Kim Guthrie:
Actually you're really talented.Matt Sunshine:
Ally, if you're really talented.Kim Guthrie:
Really kidding.Matt Sunshine:
Uh, uh, thank you everyone for listening. We look forward to us, uh, having you on our next podcast for, uh, helping everyone improve salesKim Guthrie:
Performance. Thanks guys.Matt 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.