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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Sales Leadership Series with Bernie Weiss, President at iHeartMedia New York and Author

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What do selling and tennis have in common?

Bernie Weiss, President at iHeartMedia New York and Author of Ace It! How Sales Champions Win New Business answers that question, plus offers some sales performance tips.

Tune in now or keep reading for a brief overview.

About Bernie Weiss

Bernie Weiss is President of iHeartMedia New York. After managing one of Central Europe’s largest radio networks, he began his U.S. career at New York’s HipHop and R&B station Power 105.1.

He rose quickly through the sales and sales management ranks of iHeartMedia and is now overseeing some of the most prestigious radio station brands in the country.

Over the course of twenty years, Bernie coached hundreds of salespeople – rookies and veterans – many of whom went on to become sales superstars and rose to leadership positions themselves.

What Do Selling and Tennis Have in Common? 

As a professional tennis player, Bernie offers plenty of analogies for tennis and sales.

He starts the conversation by talking about the recent three-hour battle between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez in the U.S Open finals. He notes that regardless of whether she lost or won, Fernandez had the exact same prep and routing.

“In the follow-up interview, the press asked Fernandez what she kept telling herself when things got tight,” explains Bernie. “And she said that she kept telling herself to trust her game, and that’s what salespeople have to do. They have to trust their game, their process, then replicate it to see success.”


Using the Sales Process to Improve Sales Performance

Salespeople have routines for everything — preparation, pitches, cold calling, and first meetings. Having a routine and knowing what to do in every situation is key.

In his book Ace It!, Bernie also gives more tennis analogies that support the overall point of having a routine and being systematic is a much better approach to follow not only in tennis but in sales.

“Roger Federer is on record saying he knows what he’s doing every single day for the next 9 months,” states Bernie. “His days are planned out — exactly where to practice, who to practice with, where tournaments are held. He has an exact plan he follows. And that’s what the best salespeople do — they know exactly when to go in for the renewal and when to fill the funnel. They have a plan and follow it.”

Motivation Behind "Ace It!" 

One goal of Ace It! was to lay out an entire process from beginning to end — from finding a lead to getting in the door to launching a campaign.

“I’ve been selling and managing sales teams in New York for the past 20 years, and 2 years ago got promoted to a more General Management role,” explains Bernie. “At that point, I wanted to capture everything I had learned over the years and everything I’ve seen working in one of the most competitive markets in the county — the media industry in New York.”

Throughout the interview, Bernie mentions his thought process for a specific audience. “I had a few audiences in mind. First, I wrote for sales managers who are looking for a sales process they can teach; where they have a new hire and want to show them what’s working,” he explains. “I also wrote it for sales veterans, college students, and for those people looking for a career change. This book will show them what they’re getting into and shows exactly what they should be doing.”

What Slows New Business Development?

Exceptional sales organizations need to be great at developing new business. With that in mind, host Matt Sunshine asks Bernie what he thinks are some of the things that have slowed new business development at an organization like iHeart New York.

These are the hurdles and obstacles he’s experienced:

1. Creating culture around new business development and proactively creating opportunities.

“Leadership team must be fully living it — leading by example and becoming rainmakers themselves to reinforce new business culture,” Bernie states.

2. Lack of focus.

“There’s too much to sell for larger companies,” Bernie states. “With so much to sell, from digital to sponsorships, AE’s need specialization in one vertical.”

Even sales leaders that do focus on new business development have to commit to always doing it. “The great train and practice so that they can’t do it another way,” Matt adds.

How To Drive New Business In Today’s Environment

New Business Tips for Salespeople

Bernie states that another goal of Ace It! was to make it as accessible as possible — meaning to make it easy to read and to apply using analogies, anecdotes, and stories; then giving templates and scripts that readers can literally just grab and use the same day.

“One way to do that was creating this fictional prospect and fictional process,” Bernie explains. “In the book, readers follow the prospect through the sales process — from how to find them to how we qualify them. And how we get in the door with different options from seed emails to cold calls and voicemail messages.”

After every chapter, readers will see how the theory looks in practice with the fictional prospect. “Readers will know how to focus on verticals, become experts in a category, and speak the language of the clients and industry.”

Throughout the interview, Bernie also talks about “heavy metal sales” and how this is the portion of the sales process that most salespeople struggle with. To hear more, tune in now!

What Tools Help Salespeople Sell Smarter and Faster? 

Bernie states that his team has really stepped up their game using technology and tools. “We’ve started using prospecting tools like Sponsor United, defining playbooks, video software for outreach emails, and using tools for the back end of sales like analytics,” he explains.

He also notes that it’s not always about tools and technology. “It’s about how you arm your team. Sometimes that doesn’t mean fancy software or tools; it means writing a seed email as a template, listing business reasons for categories, or writing a new proposal template.”

Arming your sales team and creating a multiplier effect makes them more productive and efficient.

How the Sales Talent Assessment Fits into the Ace It! Approach

Matt discusses how Bernie uses the CSS Sales Talent Assessment to ensure he hires the right people and asks what critical talents he finds make the most successful new business salespeople.

“I’m a huge believer in the talent assessment and the result that we’re provided,” states Bernie. “We use it on the front end, so before we even start interviewing people, or go through the process, we get the score.” He also notes that they’ve haven’t hired anyone who was not recommended in the over 5 years.

“The Ace It! approach comes is where it says as long as you have the core talents — and for me, that means you’re recommended on the talent assessment — and you follow a process — you can be the best salesperson on your team. Regardless of your score, if you do everything right along the way, step by step in the sales process, you can still be the best salesperson on the team.”

Coaching Sales Talent eBook

What Should Sales Managers Focus On To Continue Driving and Improving Revenue Performance? 

While this is a loaded question, Bernie narrows down the answer to this:

1. Embracing tools and technology

“What CRM’s can do now opposed to 18 months ago is unbelievable, “states Bernie. “Sales managers need to embrace the CRM and use the data. Not only know how to use it, but also know how to teach your team.”

2. Lead management and lead strategy

“This is extremely important right now because of virtual selling,” states Bernie. “The media industry is now open to new markets and geographic areas.”

3. Recruiting

Recruiting should always be at the top of the list for managers,” Bernie states. “It’s the most important activity to do, and right now, there are so many people willing to look at new careers that it’s a good idea to spend more on recruiting activities than ever before.”

Don’t miss another episode of the Improving Sales Performance series where Managing Partner Matt Sunshine speaks with thought leaders, experts, and industry gurus, who share their insight, tips, and knowledge on various topics that help companies improve sales performance.  

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Topics: sales performance