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  • Writer's pictureAlec Drake

How To Manage A Sales Sinkhole

Updated: Jan 19

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Sales Managers have seen the growing sinkhole between the commodity seller on one side and the “Swiss Army Knife” (high-end) seller on the other. As your prospects and clients move to each end of the needs spectrum and the hole gets bigger, what skill profile is a must-have on your sales team?

As you budget for 2023 and map out strategies, it’s a perfect opportunity to build your new sales team blueprint. Managers of all market sizes must consider how the future will define their sales team profile and how each will play in monetizing assets. There is one common thread across all markets; the future waits for no one.

The Sinkhole Grows

Prospecting and selling direct clients with smaller budgets must be cost-effective, and this encourages automated customer interfaces and turnkey OTA campaigns. The A.I. bot-driven trend using digital platform selling strategies is one factor punching a hole in the sale team profile. iHeart’s AdBuilder is an example of this trend with its three easy steps - click, approve, and get on the station. The automation of sales is also depleting the commodity seller count on teams.

As the sinkhole grows around the edges, managers must focus on who, what, and how they manage for results.

The Pain or Pleasure Decision

The clock is ticking and will create increased pressure to make tough decisions. Sigmund Freud developed the pain or pleasure principle, which states that we avoid pain and embrace pleasure. As a manager, you can delay the pain while looking at temporary ad dollar growth for reasons like political spending and ignore the sales sinkhole. Or you can increase the possibility of pleasure with intelligent, proactive decisions to become a more robust high-end solution provider to your customers.

The 2023 Sales Team Blueprint

The winners in sales management will boost support for what I call “Self-Improvement” sellers who are building their skill sets and getting revenue traction from delivering comprehensive solutions.

Building a high-end solution team of self-improvement sellers requires investment in marketing and prospecting support, changes in their administrative responsibility, and compensation.

High-end sales require rethinking the sales cycle and more time with existing prospects and customers. Commission plans you tied to the volume in dollars or who placed the business must be adjusted to include other factors like asset depth in proposals and client tenure on the stations.

Self-Improvement sellers focus on sales strategies with embedded marketing insights that support a business with highly customized advertising programs. The support team and the high-end sellers move from quantity to quality, targeting business relationships based on a need for comprehensive services.

The list of assets in every station’s sales department has grown tremendously in the last few years. It’s time to match the sales operation to the customer's increasing needs and your potential to deliver results.

The Takeaway:

How we sell and function in the future requires managers to reconstitute their sales teams, how they attract new talent, and compensate according to new revenue models. We should be proactive in building a structure based on high-end marketing sales to lead revenue efforts.

Segment your customers with technology and A.I. services tied to levels of service based on need. Extend your “sales cycle” thinking and look for opportunities to build “sticky” sales relationships that can survive transactional-based technology platforms.

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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