February 5, 2019

Beverly James photo

I used to work for a guy who would ask one key question during the interview process: “What makes you good at what you do?” If the candidate couldn’t articulate that, he wasn’t interested in hiring them. When I asked him about it, he said that really good salespeople have a self-awareness of why they are successful that makes their behavior repeatable. And this is the key: Do you know what you do when you win, and can you do it again…and again…and again?

As sales reps we need to know what brings us success so that we can repeat that behavior. Having good systems is one of the best ways to do that. Systems allow you to build self-awareness of why and how prospects choose to do business with you. You can be the most charming and persuasive person, but if you can’t keep track of yourself, those wins will merely be luck- and not necessarily repeatable.


For active accounts, you should have a way to track past, current, and future billing. Are they spending more each year, the same, or less? Do you know why? You need to offer excellent service to your active accounts which includes meeting their copy needs and knowing when to change the message.

We need to know what our clients’ most important goals are and how we are helping them reach those goals. Do you follow them on social media, so you know when new things are happening for their business? This can often lead to supplemental dollars. Keeping track of active accounts is easier with a CRM, but a simple excel spreadsheet and digital calendar can also do wonders to keep you on track.

It is also worth spending some time thinking about why our clients are buying us. Is it because they are huge public radio fans? Is it because of you and your ideas? Is it more transactional? If so, while the dollars may be significant (think agencies) we have less control over those dollars. This is the kind of information that can give you that personal sales awareness of what makes you successful.


New business is key to our success. What is your system for making sure you make enough calls to get you to your goal? 

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Manage digital buyers and agencies

It is easy to see that keeping track of the number of prospects we need to be calling on in order to generate significant new business can be a challenge. Once again, if you don’t have a CRM, a simple spreadsheet of daily activity with phone numbers and email addresses, with the date and a note or two, can provide a huge amount of help. If you are lucky enough to have a CRM, be sure you learn how to use it to maximize its benefits.

Activity basically comes down to discipline. Once you know how many calls you need to make, what is your system for getting that done? Are you setting aside the amount of time you need to make those 3-5 new calls per day? Many reps like to block out certain hours when they are at their best to make those calls. A couple of tricks that may make your cold calling more productive are to:

  1. Analyze your account categories. Are there certain kinds of accounts that seem to gravitate to you?
  2. What account categories generate the most revenue? This info can help you know where to spend your energy.
  3. What are your own interests? This may help you be more engaged and a better partner to your clients if it is something you really care about.


Pacing is a key metric for measuring our success. If you have a goal of $100,000 in billing for the year, how much of that should be written by when? If you are a new rep, start keeping track on a monthly basis what your percentage toward annual goal is. The fun part will be in year two when you start to pace ahead of prior year and it gives a sense of accomplishment, always important to keep you motivated!

For more senior reps with larger books of business, this is critical to keep you on course. We’ve all been in the situation when it’s December 15th and we’re anxious to renew our annual accounts. If they start to delay in laying in their orders, maybe not starting until February or March, we are in trouble. We’ll never replace those lost dollars and they are hard to make up. This speaks to starting the renewal process early. And guess what, you’ll need a system for that! Keep yourself on track by using a pacing worksheet like this one.

When I was selling, I knew I was successful because I worked hard, cared deeply about my clients, and strove to provide excellent service so they knew I was invested in their business. I was always aware of where I was towards my goal, which clients were my best prospects for immediate business, and generally how many calls I had made that week towards my personal goal of 15 per week.

Take a minute and see if you can answer what makes you good at what you do, and then find the systems that can help you perform day in and day out.

Manage digital buyers and agencies
Beverly James photo