Our recent release of The Biggest Challenges of Media Salespeople and Sales Managers has attracted a lot of attention and drawn a lot of comment. One thing people are chatting about is what sellers and managers agree on, and where they see the world differently.
Our questionnaires were based on a series of 65 one-on-one interviews conducted earlier in the year. Since sales issues and management issues don’t align perfectly, most of the items in the list offered to salespeople and the list offered to sales managers were different. But several were nearly identical, and that gave us the opportunity to explore some areas where sellers and managers agree and disagree.
Here are two issues where they see eye-to-eye:
- Finding qualified prospects showed up as the second biggest challenge on both the Seller and Manager Lists. Salespeople and their managers clearly agree that this is a very significant challenge, adding weight to this finding. We comment extensively on this topic in the full Report.
- Nearly equal portions of the manager and seller samples identified knowing how to use digital in a tailored solution as a significant opportunity for growth, though the item placed just out of the top 4 (actually, #5 on both lists). Companies investing in the right digital media sales training are seeing ROI, but our experience in the field is showing us that’s not enough. Having highly talented salespeople with strong basic selling skills is equally important.
In contrast to those areas of agreement, managers and sellers disagreed sharply in this survey on these two issues:
- Whether or not it’s tough for salespeople to get the initial appointment with their most ideal prospects. Salespeople cited it as their #1 challenge, with nearly half the sample placing getting the first appointment among their top 3 areas for improvement. Among managers, however, this same item placed near the bottom of the list and was selected as a top 3 opportunity for improvement by fewer than one in six managers.
- Whether or not selling is more difficult today because clients are paying greater attention to metrics and measurement. For salespeople, it showed up as their #3 greatest challenge, with 1 in every 3 sellers selecting this item from the list of 12. But their sales managers ranked this same item—selling is more difficult today because clients are paying greater attention to metrics and measurement—dead last among the 14 items they were asked to rank, with only 1 in 10 managers selecting it as a top 3 challenge.
This contrasting data suggests that both of these challenges faced by media salespeople may be a blind spot for a significant number of sales managers. Managers would be wise to ponder this data and consider how best to respond. At the meta level, one may ask how such discrepancies came to be. Our professional staff has observed an increased amount of sales manager isolation in recent years. Too many meetings, too many reporting responsibilities, and too little prioritization of field coaching is resulting in sales managers spending less and less time in the field with their people. No wonder some are losing touch with what it’s like on the street these days.