Improving Sales Performance

#MediaSalesReport - Industry Outlook and Culture

February 22, 2023 Matt Sunshine
Improving Sales Performance
#MediaSalesReport - Industry Outlook and Culture
Show Notes Transcript

This season, we’re analyzing the findings from our latest Media Sales Report. With data collected from surveys conducted in Q4 of last year, the responses from sales managers and salespeople alike will help us chart a solid path forward through the media sales landscape.    

In each episode, Matt will be joined by a rolling roster of outstanding experts from our team here at The Center for Sales Strategy. 

Today, Matt is breaking down the Industry Outlook and Culture Section of the Media Sales Report with SVP/Partner at Up Your Culture by The Center for Sales Strategy, Beth Sunshine. 

Together, Matt and Beth give their take on some top questions that arise from the report, like:

  • How can sales managers better communicate and express their optimistic industry outlook to engage and inspire their teams?  
  • What can sales managers do to turn a less than ideal company culture into one that their salespeople would evangelize about?
  • What is causing such different perceptions of what the ideal hybrid model should be? 

The Media Sales Report:

The Center for Sales Strategy:

Up Your Culture:

Matt Sunshine:

Beth Sunshine:

(02:24) Any statistics or data that really just jumped out of the media sales report?
(05:30) Is there anything specific that sales managers, um, could do to communicate and express their optimistic outlook?
(10:52) Nail down your company's reason for being, your optimistic vision for the future, your core values, and then talk about those things all the time
(14:35) Learn what is important to each individual on your team
(16:26) The discrepancy between how sales managers and salespeople view the hybrid work environment
(18:41) Managers have really been steeped their whole careers in the belief that if they can't see the work getting done, it may not be happening
(20:42) It is a candidate's market, which means job candidates are in the driver's seat

Matt Sunshine: (00:15)
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're analyzing the findings from our latest media sales report. With data collected from surveys conducted in Q4 of last year, the responses from sales managers and salespeople alike will help us chart a solid path forward through the media sales landscape. In each episode, I'll be joined by a rolling roster of outstanding experts from our team here at the Center for Sales Strategy. Together we'll break it all down. I'm your host, Matt Sunshine, CEO at the Center for Sales Strategy, a sales performance consulting company. Today, we get to talk about, um, what I think is one of the most common conversations, um, that I'm engaged in, um, with, with sales leaders and executives these days. And that's on the, uh, the culture of the sales department. And, uh, and, and what I'm super thrilled about today is that we're joined by Beth Sunshine, who is a, uh, uh, senior Vice president here at the Center for Sales Strategy, heads up the talent department, and also oversees the, uh, Up Your Culture division of the company. Beth, welcome. Uh, welcome.

Beth Sunshine: (01:56)
Thanks. I'm really excited for this.

Matt Sunshine: (01:58)
Yeah, I know. And, and all, all season on the Improving Sales Performance podcast, we have been, um, taking a closer look at the recently published, uh, media sales report. And, uh, I know you've, you've seen a copy of it, you've, you've had a chance to look through it. And so let's dive right in. Let me, let me start with, with my first question, which is, are there any, is there any statistics or any data that really just jumped off, jumped out of the media sales report as you started? Anything surprise you about it? What, what were your initial takeaways?

Beth Sunshine: (02:35)
Hmm. There was a lot that jumped out at me for sure. There were a lot of great insights. Uh, a few really caught my eye. The results, I think, overall made me feel very optimistic. Um, 78% of salespeople would recommend their company as a great place to work, for example. I really liked seeing that that's a pretty high number and a key factor in measuring engagement. So that was, was cool. Um, most, you know, I I wasn't surprised that sales managers are struggling with recruitment. I think I, I expected to see that. I imagine we're gonna probably dig into that today. I, I think the discovery that probably jumped out to me the most was related to our outlook on the future. Sales managers are so much more optimistic about the future than their sales people are. It was 87% versus 41%, which I did find a bit worrisome. Even when times are tough, if people are optimistic about what's ahead, engagement can remain high. Meaning that even in tough times, those people are still putting their full weight into their work. And without that optimistic vision for the future, engagement can slide. So we'll probably dig into that too. But I believe that's probably due to a breakdown in communication between managers and sellers, and that really stood out to me.

Matt Sunshine: (03:55)
That's good insight, and, and we're gonna jump into a bunch of the things that you just mentioned, but let's tackle that last one first. So, as you mentioned, we asked sales managers and salespeople about their optimism. We said, are you optimistic about the future? And as you just stated, 87% of sales managers said yes, but 41% of salespeople said no, we're not sure. So the question, the follow up question I have for you is, why do you think this discrepancy between salespeoples and salespeople and sales managers exists?

Beth Sunshine: (04:30)
Yeah, that's a big question. It's human nature to wanna understand. I think what's happening around us, even during tough times, like I mentioned before, like a slowing economy or a bad year in business, when people have the full picture, when they feel like they know what's happening around them, they're likely to remain optimistic and, and engaged, even if the news is not good. Receiving the news has very positive effects on people. And I think that this data shows that sales managers are probably not communicating as well as they could with their teams. People aren't receiving the news. And it could be for a couple reasons. It could be that companies don't have a culture of transparency like they could. So maybe it's normal to not give sellers a peak behind the curtain. Or it could be that sales managers are just well-meaning, and and they wanna protect their team from information that they think might worry them. But either way, I think that lack of transparency, it, it hurts engagement and eventually it hurts performance.

Matt Sunshine: (05:30)
Is there anything specific that sales managers, um, could do to communicate and express their, their optimistic outlook? How can they inspire teams?

Beth Sunshine: (05:42)
There's so much. Yeah. You've heard me. We've talked about this before and Up Your Culture. We pull on, we use the four engagement elevators to help organizations improve their culture and increase engagement. And one of, of those four engagement elevators is called valued voice, which is really what we're talking about here. So related to valued voice, I'd say, um, I would recommend a two-pronged approach. First, I would recommend gathering the team together for a town hall kind of meeting at our company. We call this a state of the state meeting, and we do it regularly throughout the year. Um, in this case, it could be a single sales manager just gathering their team. It could be an organization's leader scheduling this for the entire organization. But either way, the meeting should have that ask me anything style approach. It should start with the leader sharing their vision for what's ahead, short term and long term.

Beth Sunshine: (06:41)
Um, they should be honest, they should be transparent or as transparent as possible. And then they should open it up for questions, make sure that people are able to get their questions answered. I think it works really well to gather questions in advance so that employees can remain anonymous if they want. So that would be prong one. And then the second prong would involve maintaining that feeling of transparency moving forward after that town hall meeting. So regular updates should be provided, both good and bad. They should always be accompanied by an optimistic vision for the future, though. So here's what's happening now. Where are we headed? What can we expect? What will be the reward for working so hard? I think that's probably, uh, an easy two-pronged approach that would

Matt Sunshine: (07:29)
Help. I like it. I like those are good tactics. Someone could listening, uh, could, could implement those right away. I, so thanks for that. All right. You brought up another statistic or another key point that I wanted to follow up on. You talked about 78% of salespeople say that they would recommend their company as a great place to work. Flipping that around 22%, don't say that one out of four, one out of five are saying that they would not recommend their company as a great place to work. So two questions here. How can sales managers accurately gauge how their teams are feeling about their work environment? And what can sales manager, what can they do to turn a less than ideal company culture into one that salespeople would evangelize about and be excited about?

Beth Sunshine: (08:24)
Hmm. Okay. So starting with how they can gauge it, um, and just the statistic in general. First of all, I think this is a really positive result. So yes, 22 people said, no, that's true. But in, in the average workplace, only 57% of employees really, really okay saying that their company is a great place to work. So I actually found 78% as a really promising number. Um, with that, companies with a thriving culture typically score well over 90. So even with that 78%, there's plenty of room to improve here. Um, to answer your question, the, the best way for sales managers to know how their teams are feeling is to ask them. So we use an engagement survey, we do that once a year at our company. Um, and it includes this question, by the way, this very question is, is included in, in our engagement survey.

Beth Sunshine: (09:18)
And in most so we can keep our eyes on this. It's a key factor. It's important for us to know how people are feeling and adjust when necessary. This can also be a live conversation in the right situation if you have a strong relationship with your people. And then your second question was more about what sales managers can do. And I like the word evangelize you used. So what can they do to create sales people who would evangelize about their culture? That's one of my favorite things to do. And, and that's the goal really. We want our people to come to work and want to be at work. We want them to be emotionally committed to the work they're doing and and reap personal reward for that. We want them to come willing to do their best. Now, the 22% who said that their companies are not a great place to work, either they're going to leave their jobs entirely in the coming year or at some point, or potentially even worse, they're going to continue collecting a paycheck while giving only a minimal amount of energy or, or effort to their jobs.

Beth Sunshine: (10:22)
And either way, it's an expensive disruption to the business. So it's important to turn it around and even go so far as to create this in, uh, evangelizing atmosphere. I mentioned the four engagement all elevators earlier, so you're probably not gonna be surprised that I'm gonna tell you how to create this would be by using those engagement elevators. So the first engagement elevator shared mission. So I'd say that's where you wanna start, um, to, to create the environment you're talking about. Nail down your company's reason for being, your optimistic vision for the future, your core values, and then talk about those things all the time. Recognize behaviors that align with those values and create a strong sense of belonging so your people feel connected to what they're doing. Especially in an economic slowdown. People have to feel purposeful, they have to have meaning in their work.

Beth Sunshine: (11:15)
And then the second engagement elevator is people development. And we need to remember that stagnation is a killer. People wanna learn, they wanna grow, and they value managers and they value companies that invest in them. The third engagement elevator is the one we've talked about already, valued voice. It's about strengthening two-way communications so employees feel informed and they also recognize that their opinions and their insights are valued. And then the last one is erm trust, which is about creating a place where employees believe in their company vision and the integrity of their leaders. So if you get those things right, get those four things right, you will have employees who are evangelists for your company.

Matt Sunshine: (11:55)
Yeah, that's great. So, and, and I, and I agree with that and that makes a lot of sense. And, and I guess it's like one of those things that's simple, just not easy, right? Simple to understand, just not easy to implement, but something, it's, it's a good roadmap for someone to take. So the next next thing I wanna ask you about is something that I found in the survey that I really want your take on. Many people might look at this next thing that I'm about to share and think, that's not a big deal, but I look at it as a very big deal. 10% of salespeople rarely or never feel valued by their managers. And I know 10 percent's not a very big number, but 10% rarely or never, I mean rarely. Or it's, they didn't say sometimes, right, rarely or never feel valued by their managers. How awful would that be? I mean, one out of 10. Just don't know. So how can managers ensure that they are meaningful, meaningfully engaging with their team members on a regular basis?

Beth Sunshine: (13:01)
I'm with you on this. I think that's a terrible thing. I can't imagine those people are showing up to work with their sleeves rolled up ready to go if they feel not valued, not important to their managers or their company. They're dragging themselves into work. Um, I, I'm with you on that. As we've talked about, people don't wanna be a cog in the wheel. They want to feel valued. You know, we started our talent focus management program this week. It's a 10 week series. Our first kickoff was this week. We had a really good discussion that this question just made me think about, about the, the value of people. The best leaders believe that you could take away their products, their processes, take everything away, but leave their people and they will come back potentially even stronger than before. Are people are the engine of our businesses and they need to feel that way.

Beth Sunshine: (13:51)
And it was really cool to hear managers who are doing this every day say that. So how do you get it right? Oh my gosh, there are dozens of best practices. We could talk all day about that. But just to mention a few, I'd start with just understand the unique qualities of the people who report to you. Treat them as individuals. I can't imagine anything that would make you feel more valued than your manager really getting you, for example. Everyone needs feedback for sure, but not everyone likes it or responds to it in the same way. So as a manager, if you understand your people, you're going to be able to give them feedback in a way that really resonates with them and therefore improves their performance. So I'd say that's the best place to start. You could also learn what is important to each one of those people right now.

Beth Sunshine: (14:40)
So what does success look like for them in 2023? Are they working towards a certain number on their paycheck? Do they wanna win a specific sales contest or a company recognition? So don't just focus on their budgets, but rather find out what their goals are right now so that you can also put your coaching, your feedback into that context and cheer them on as they work to measure themselves. Also, to really demonstrate that you value your people, you really kind of ending on the place that we started, you need to trust them enough to share information with them. So giving them information on what's happening, where you're going as a company, genuinely seeking their input and ideas that makes people feel valuable, even if you don't take action on what you learn. A lot of times I hear managers say, well, I don't wanna ask for their input, cuz I may not go in that direction. And then, you know, they're going to think I it's gonna make them feel worse. And I disagree with that. I think even if you don't take action on what you learn, it's important that you value their input. You make them feel heard, um, you know, just because you don't make a decision that aligns it, it still pays off in the end. So there are a few, a few ways I think you can really make someone feel valuable.

Matt Sunshine: (15:59)
So my last question for you, um, or last topic that I really want to cover, uh, today on this podcast, um, is this statistic where I think we have one of the largest discrepancies in the whole media sales report. Let me, let me share, share what I'm talking about the, the stat that jumped out and then let me ask you a question. Okay. So the discrepancy is how sales managers and salespeople view the hybrid world. Um, you know, the hybrid workspace that we find ourselves in almost half the sales managers, 49% prefer a model that is 50% home, 50% in office. Two-thirds of the salespeople are looking for a model that is 80% home, 20% office. Yeah. Or, or, or entirely remote altogether. So 50%, 49% of managers think they should be at the office or at home, right home or office. Um, two thirds of salespeople are looking for 80% work from home or, or if not completely remote. So in your opinion, what's causing such different perceptions of, of this, of whatever that ideal hybrid model should be. And, and I know that you do a lot of work and Up Your Culture goes a lot of work in this area and that you've looked even outside of our media sales report for, for how the rest of the industry, other industries are doing. So give us your take on this.

Beth Sunshine: (17:45)
Yeah, this is a hot topic and I think it's going to be for a long time. As a matter of fact, fact, when the media sales report was published and I skimmed through it, this was the thing I was looking for, I was very curious to see what this report showed versus what I'm hearing just anecdotally from clients and also what I'm seeing in other reports. And there were no surprises for me that the world of work has changed in such a way that we are just, we're not gonna be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube on this. People have discovered that they can be productive and successful without being physically in the office all day five days a week. And there is an overwhelming employee demand for flexibility and candidate demand for flexibility. Flexibility in where they work and flexibility in when they work.

Beth Sunshine: (18:33)
People wanna be trusted to do their jobs. Um, so that's kind of the, the employee, the salesperson side of things. At the same time, managers have really been steeped their whole careers and the belief that if they can't see the work getting done, it may not be happening. Even if they trust their sellers, they still feel more comfortable being able to see them busy at work at least half the time, which is where you're seeing that 50 50. The problem is salespeople overwhelmingly are finding that not only can they do their jobs not in the office, but they can often be more productive when working from a remote remote location some or most of the time. And it's not that they're office at first, they just don't see the value in doing the same thing in the office that they can be doing from somewhere else.

Beth Sunshine: (19:21)
So my advice on this is pretty consistent. It's whatever hybrid work model you come up with, and it can look different for different people. What I'm telling you now, what I'm hearing the most is people do not like the Monday and Friday remote Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in the office. It's just very prescriptive and inflexible. Um, my advice is to make sure that whatever you come up with, when you bring your sellers into the office, you have a reason for it. Coming in for a sales meeting makes sense. If you're having a state of the state meeting town hall kind of meeting like we talked about, that makes sense. A creative brainstorming session, a meeting with another department, maybe a client's coming in or a speaker will be there or training session. All of those things make sense and I have not seen sellers push back hard on those, but making them come into the office Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to do the same thing that they're doing from another remote location Monday and Friday, that just doesn't make sense to people.

Beth Sunshine: (20:23)
And especially right now, we have to be really cautious and really cognizant of that because it is becoming more common for salespeople, for employees to have flexibility and they carry a lot of weight. The current job market is 90% candidate driven right now. It is, it is a candidate's market, which means job candidates are in the driver's seat and the vast majority of them also want flexibility in their work when they work and where they work. So it's, it's a real, it's a real issue that we have to tackle. And I'd say it's about combining, balancing the trust of our employees with some sort of processes or systems that allow us to still feel tuned in without them having to be working in the cubicle outside of our doors.

Matt Sunshine: (21:16)
Yeah, I like the way you frame that and I think that makes it a little bit more actionable. What I hear a lot of people say, or or, or a lot of people speak when they speak on this, they're too definitive on one way or the other. Yeah. Right. They're either very, everyone must come back in Right. Or we are not coming back in. Right. Right. It's like there, I I like what you're saying. Give them a reason to come in, make there be something. Cause I, I do know I hear similar stories when a salesperson comes in and they're literally, there's hardly anyone else in the office and they're doing the exact same thing that they could be doing from somewhere else. By the way, they would rather be going out and seeing their clients face to face, right. And spending their time doing that, driving to their clients instead of having to come in and, you know, have a bed check, uh, essentially

Beth Sunshine: (22:12)
That's a good way to say it. And,

Matt Sunshine: (22:13)
And, and, and, but giving them a reason to come in, like for a sales meeting or for an if f m or a one-on-one. Mm-hmm. Right. Or or for an all hands meeting or town hall, whatever you call it. Right. Or a brainstorming session or a client coming in. Those are great reasons, and by the way, we should be doing those things.

Beth Sunshine: (22:31)
That's right. And I'll just add, I think we've been talking a lot about communication, transparency and all of that through this conversation. That plays a really big role here. I'm thinking of an Up Your Culture client as you're talking and I'm listening to you, they have allowed their salespeople to be flexible, really decide when they wanna come in. So some are not coming into the office very much, but there are other departments like production where they really need to be in the office to do their jobs. And there is a sense at this company of inequity, unfairness, and I think what's lacking there is communication. It is someone saying, here's what we're doing and why we're doing it and how we're gonna make it work and why it's a good thing. I think whatever model you land on, there has to be communication behind it.

Matt Sunshine: (23:20)
No, I think that's excellent. Um, thank you so much for, for joining me today on this topic. It is, um, we're not done, we're just done for today. Okay. But this topic is a big, big subject and, and I know that you guys at Up Your Culture write about this a lot. You produce a lot of material, a lot of content, and anyone can go to to up your and, and subscribe to the blog or, or download the four engagement elevators I think are all right there. Yeah. Um, someone can go and grab those right now if they wanted to. I'd highly recommend that they're, it's, it's more than just talk. It's, it's a real roadmap to follow.

Beth Sunshine: (24:04)
Yeah. Yeah. That's a good way to say it. We have an inventory checklist, some real hands on. There's a really great piece on how to run virtual meetings and how to manage a hybrid workplace. So yeah, I think that's great advice.

Matt Sunshine: (24:15)
Thanks so much. I appreciate being being here today. Thanks for helping

Speaker 3: (24:17)

Matt Sunshine: (24:23)
This has been improving sales performance. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, join us every week by clicking the subscribe button. For more on the topics covered in the show visit our website, the center for sales 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 guest, please do. You can find our contact information in the show notes. Until next time, get out there and sell.

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