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  • Alec Drake

What 7 Steps Can Plug Your Sales Drain

Updated: Jan 19

My sales management column in Radio Ink's June 6th 2022 issue.

The cost of customer acquisition should already motivate a hyper-focus on renewals. Renewals are the most valuable opportunities in sales yet do not always get undivided attention. The lyric from "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," should be displayed prominently in every sales department.

How can we set up measures for the best chance for renewal earlier in our customer relationships?

Seven Steps to Plug the Drain

This list of seven steps is in relative sequence to the customer journey and is designed to build a stronger foundation with each step. Each one carries its weight in the process, and you can emphasize one over another as you evaluate and strengthen your renewal strategy.

Image by aymane jdidi - Pixabay

1. Manage Expectations – Disappointment is the first crack in any business relationship, and a reluctance to address anything upfront that can be a concern later is very short-sighted. The onboard process is the most critical stage of your new relationship and sets the tone for all that follows.

2. Understand needs – It's not about you. Always work your way from the customer needs back to your value propositions. If you "sold" them instead of helping them "buy," the relationship is built on sand, and it's just a matter of time before erosion takes its toll. At the start of the sale, one discovery call gets stale in a fast-changing business climate. Plan for temperature checks every 30 days minimum on initial needs.

3. Get a suitable investment – An underfunded strategy will always be doomed. As tempting as it may be to take that first order, reach a quota or win the sales contest, don't do it. A long game seller does not churn through the market until your reputation suffers. Find your new client's affordable and sustainable solution with the best potential for a positive R.O.I. Managing expectations combined with a suitable investment will serve you well in getting higher renewals.

4. Provide Robust solutions – In our complex "tool kit" of marketing solutions, you can usually find a combination that gets bought by a committed prospect. Matching the solution to a budget is not what I would call robust. Taking the time to build value for your offerings that match current needs and provide future growth for the business is a wise choice. Yes, there are limits on what a new client will invest; however, do your homework to fully grasp what is available for a robust solution rather than taking what dollars you can get.

5. Leverage assets – Be creative; it's a part of the radio business you should love. You are uniquely positioned to build programs, engage your support teams, and add your twist to intertwine the client with the stations. Leveraging cross-promotional elements will weave your client into the fabric of the station/listener relationship. This step is not about "giving stuff away."

6. Be accountable – Excuses are not necessary if you pay attention. If there is a problem, own it or fix it. We all rely on others to get the job done. Stay in close contact with your team, set reminders to be proactive on deadlines for deliverables, and leave room to mitigate an issue internally before it becomes the client's problem.

7. Full Service – Expand your value with all available touchpoints to deepen the relationship. Following the first six steps, you can extend past the initial client investment. Clients will see the value in you and your product, and with time for trust to build, you can grow their involvement and the budget.

It's out of my hands

We have all gotten that dreaded news of a business closing its doors or defaulting on financial obligations to the company. Changes in ownership pushing you back to square one or your company moving dollars from local to the corporate ledger will happen. Every salesperson suffers from turnover, so prospecting will always be critical. We must acknowledge this part of our job and shift the focus to a proactive approach to lower attrition. One of my previous managers said, "we do not have a sales problem; we have an attrition problem." This situational awareness kept us looking for ways to minimize customer turnover.

Measure to Manage

Hopefully, you are tracking attrition to set benchmarks for lower churn. In 2020, we all had rapid attrition due to the pandemic. In 2021 the rebound began, and in 2022 the demand for your stations is back to 2019 levels. Now is the time to recalibrate your attrition measurement and set new goals to reduce turnover. Take these seven steps to your next sales meeting to review how everyone can plug their sales drain.

Thank you for reading this article, and please pass it along to your colleagues.
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About The Author:

Alec Drake openly shares revenue management strategies and sales improvement ideas in the "Sales Success Library" at He is a regular contributor to Radio Ink Magazine, where he leverages four decades of experience to write about sales and management. Alec is the founder of The Radio Invigoration Project (T.R.I.P.), a support initiative for local radio sales and promotion staff.

Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to any original content in articles written by Alec Drake or published on any third-party platforms and featured in any podcast.

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