A lesson in the “madness” — and the math — of March
Yes, this March my bracket is a disaster, just like yours.
Do you want an stone-cold guarantee for a winning bracket? If so, we’ve got it.
If you haven’t trashed them yet, take another look at your brackets. Put aside the wins and losses for a moment and look at the symmetry. A very important sales lesson is right under your nose.
Every team in the NCAA tournament wants to get to the Final four. Technically, every team wants to win it all, but the Final Four is the launching pad for many programs. And here’s where we segue into media sales.
We all can think of four advertisers we NEED to talk to very soon. Probably many more than that. But what we don’t realize, or fail to admit, is that it will probably take us 64 entries in our own brackets to get us to four qualified closing opportunities this week. Those who don’t see that haven’t been selling, or have been just plain lucky. Sorta like the person who picks their hoops brackets based on mascot size.
For every team that makes the Final Four, there are 15 other teams that don’t make it. Similarly, every “YES” you hear today is accompanied by about 15-20 “NOs.” This is nothing new to sales. Like basketball in March, sales is a battle of attrition.
The hoops champion is required to win six games. Similarly, it takes on average 6-10 touchpoints with an advertiser before we hear that final “YES.” Like basketball in March, sales is a game of persistence and preparedness.
Which is why the brackets that we fill out each Spring are a perfect analogy for how we need to refocus our developmental sales efforts.
Yes, we need to be talking to those #1 seeds as often as possible. That auto dealer you haven’t seen in a year who now has 180 units sitting on his lot? He’s a #1 seed. Pick up the phone. That HVAC just outside of town with 23 trucks? She’s a one-seed too, even though she might wear a polo shirt with her name on it. In fact, she’s a millionaire several times over. Time to schedule a meeting with her too. And we still haven’t penciled their names into our sales brackets? Those #1 seeds go a long way.
The sales bracket is a simple concept: for every closing opportunity we seek, we either have to be extremely skilled at (a) picking out the ripe advertisers with decision-makers just waiting for us to call them (unlikely scenario … same odds as cheering your 16-seed into the Final Four) or (b) playing the numbers. Too many media sales teams choose (a) above. Oh, we all have our lists, but that’s just about all they are … lists. Why has good prospecting become a lost art?
Filling out your sales bracket is an exercise that’ll take less time — and cost you less money — than filling out your annual hoops bracket. You don’t have to worry about Maryland losing to Michigan State. And unlike your hoops bracket, this exercise is a lock to return your investment of labor many times over.
Now, put down your bracket and look at your list. Start seeking out your one-seeds, your two-seeds, your “Cinderella stories” … but don’t stop there. You need to fill out the whole bracket. If this is the year you win it all, it’ll have nothing to do with luck.
Dave Eckstein is a partner in the firm ESA & Company, based in Red Bank, New Jersey. Dave specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local business and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition for his clients.