You know, "the early bird gets the worm." You probably also can guess what date you can expect Christmas this year.
Yet many media account executives will be panicked and running around like frantic last-minute Christmas shoppers, trying to pick up the crumbs left by more professional account executives who captured their prospects’ Christmas budgets while they were still in the planning stages.
I can still recall my rookie days when I called on my prospects with our newly-released ‘Christmas package’ only to hear, "Sorry, we gave our entire budget to the newspaper just last week."
While it might no longer be "the newspaper", you can bet there are countless traditional and new media reps who will be pounding the pavement around mid-October in the hopes of capturing lucrative Christmas advertising dollars.
If you want your competitors to hear you’ve already captured their prospects’ Christmas budgets, you need to begin planning your Christmas sales meeting NOW.
I know it’s hard to think Christmas when thermometers are at their peak, but Christmas advertising is like Christmas shopping….it’s all about mood and awareness.
A properly planned Christmas sales meeting can put your sales team in the mood to be the early bird, to be the first in the door to talk to their prospects about the important Christmas selling season.
You need to plan now, for your Christmas sales meeting the first week after Labor Day. And it needs to feel like Christmas!
Here are some of the tactics we encourage the stations we consult to utilize during their early-September Christmas sales meeting;
- Hold it off-premise. And like Christmas gifts, make it a surprise. Forewarn your team you are holding a special off-premise sales meeting right after Labor Day, but don’t let them know the theme.
- Surprise your attendees with Christmas music, seasonal décor, and of course, wrap up your meeting with a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
- While your team is at the sales meeting, have someone back at the office post the appropriate notices, packages, and visuals to maintain their Christmas focus upon their return.
- Identify the most high potential Christmas prospects and categories, traditional and non-traditional, complete with category research, and some sample Christmas campaigns.
- While I’m not a fan of `packages,’ I’m well aware that there are clients, and some radio sales people, who need packages to motivate them. If you’re releasing station Christmas packages do so at this meeting, and gift wrap each package as your gift to the team.
- Get in the spirit. Ask your creative and production people to keep it a secret, and produce something that will bring a laugh. Last year, one of our clients Creative Directors produced a custom version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’, poking fun at each of the sales reps by name.
- Recognition and incentives should be part of your Christmas Sales Meeting. Posting a results board where each sales person can proudly post each Christmas sale for all to see can keep the Christmas spirit and momentum moving forward.
- And don’t forget how empty your logs can be in January February. When preparing your Christmas packages, try to include schedules for January clear-outs and February sales in those packages.
- Many stations offer discounts during those cold winter months. Extrapolating those discounts over four months, November through February can make your Christmas package more appealing to those hard-to-please transactional buyers, without effectively reducing your average rate of return over that period. For example, if you discount your $100 rate to $80 in January/February, offering a $90 rate across the board, can be appealing. It’s also easier to sell your Christmas/New Year’s Greetings as part of the overall Christmas presentation, than to try to sell it last minute, independent of the overall campaign.
- Sell, sell, sell. Look for data and research with positive spending indicators about the pending 2012 Christmas selling season. This data will bolster sales rep confidence, and also be great ammunition in your client presentations.
- Most stations have a great personality on board who’d love to poke fun at the sales reps. Have them show up at your meeting dressed as Santa. They can present a personalized gag gift to each account executive to further that Christmas spirit.
- Be creative, have fun, and make money!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a great year!!