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By creating a culture of always serving the customers, hiring around customer-centric is an easy way to tell if the candidate is the right fit.
Wayne Bischoff, CEO of Mediamark, joins us on the Conquer Local Podcast all the way from South Africa. Wayne’s sales career started at the age of seven when he began selling pencils on the playground. He shares how his background in sales prepared him as the CEO to create a customer-centric organization. Hiring amid a pandemic has been a significant theme on the podcast. Wayne explains when he is looking to hire new reps, he focuses on how they are motivated. If a potential employee says they are motivated by money, he doesn’t want them to be a part of his organization.
Wayne is a dynamic natural leader with nearly three decades of extensive experience in the sales, marketing, and advertising industry, both in South Africa, Sub Saharan Africa, and Europe. This experience covers the full media landscape from Print, TV, Radio, OOH to Digital and gives me a strategic birds-eye view of the fast-evolving disruptive media and advertising space. His senior leadership roles cover MD, Executive, and Directorships, including a board member of the Advertising Media Association of Southern Africa. Wayne’s strengths involve creating high-performance sales cultures with a sharp focus on customer-centricity. He is exceptionally well equipped to drive digital transformation within legacy organizations.
Mediamark is a leading multimedia sales house that ensures brands derive maximum value from their advertising spend through tailored multichannel solutions. Mediamark is a specialist media solutions company comprising Mediamark Radio, Mediamark Digital, Mediamark Events, and Mediamark TV.
George: It’s another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. And for this edition, we go halfway around the world to Johannesburg, South Africa, to speak to the CEO of Mediamark. Mediamark is a part of a media organization that was actually created by a trust of Bishop Desmond Tutu, to give back to the communities. And as part of their line of businesses, they are aligned with the biggest radio broadcasters in South Africa. So virtually every radio listener will understand the brands that Wayne’s organization represents like Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio. Wayne and I have known each other for a number of years. He’s probably one of the smarter sales leaders that I have had the privilege of drinking South African wine with and having the odd proper braai. We’re going to get Wayne on the Conquer Local Podcast in a few moments from beautiful Johannesburg, South Africa, when we return next.
George: All the way from Johannesburg, South Africa, joining us Wayne, very excited to have you on the show. I’m not going to tell people how many times we’ve tried to schedule the Great Wayne Bischoff to get you onto Conquer Local Podcast over the last couple of years. As a bit of backstory, Wayne and I met a number of years ago, about five years ago, at a time when he was a Chief Revenue Officer. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about your transition and growth from Chief Revenue Officer to CEO. But first, maybe give us just a bit of background on you and your career and what fills your time right now. What’s the CEO of Mediamark, what does that career look like? But let’s start at the beginning. Where did this all begin for you as a career sales leader?
Wayne: Yeah, that’s an interesting one. I mean, if I want to go right back to my initial career, I think in sales, I think when I was about seven years old, my father used to be a Sales Director for a General Motors dealership in Johannesburg. And I used to get these bunches of pencils from the office that he brought home. And I’d take them to school, then sell them to my friends for about 2 cents each. I didn’t need the money. I wasn’t a starving kid, but I just got the joy of selling. Then in my teens, I was introduced to one of the guys who brought the first Weber barbecues into the country. Another ubiquitous in this country. And I started marketing those, demonstrating them, cooking, checking on them, and selling the damn things, to make money while I was in school in my first couple of years of university. So I think the selling side’s always been in me, that’s, a pretty much part of my makeup. But getting into media sales was almost by accident. I ended up going to the UK after university. I thought I’d get into industrial relations or something of that sort, which I studied for. And I ended up getting a job that was looking for graduates, at a company that had magazines like Classic Car Magazine, a whole lot of Consumer Magazines. And I got an ad sales job there in a magazine print sales, tennis sales, and that’s sort of my first role back in the media sales, moved on a few years there by the end of my last year in the UK, I ended up working at Yellow Pages Sales Limited, in the good old days when there was no Google, that was your Google, Yellow Pages. And that was a brilliant company, and I cut my teeth there: great learnings. Came back to South Africa where I got into radio sales, one of the top companies over here with the main talk radio station group. Moved on there, got into television, gone to the first free-to-air television station called ETV, where I was General Manager of Sales. From there, I ended up getting a job in the, I went to the UK actually for a couple of years, heading up a company called TV Africa, which was a U.S. funded pan-African TV group. We had offices in Abidjan, Lagos, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and I was heading up the European office for sales across the whole of Europe, for big European brands. Came back, got back into radio. Then left radio and I went to a company where I was MD actually, called Habari Media, a digital sales house. And back then, this is about maybe 10 years ago now, we at the time, we Habari Media had the rights for reselling rights, exclusive reselling rights for Africa, for Facebook, for LinkedIn, vc.com and a whole lot of local South African online brands in the early days. So, I cut my teeth in digital, went from there to Trudon, [that’s] where we sort of know each other from as well, George, which was a Local Yellow Pages Company, which got me to understand the local business and the small-medium business sector. And to get an understanding of that sector and their needs and their pains, their pain points. And now in the last year and a half, I’ve been the CEO of Mediamark, we’re essentially an ad sales, media sales house, we represent a whole lot of digital assets from Gumtree, through to some big South African sites MSN. And our main revenue 90% actually is radio. So we have probably after the national state broadcast, so we have the biggest portfolio of radio stations in the country. 80% of our money comes from the big ad agencies, only 20% of the sort of direct smaller clients. And that’s the area obviously I’m gonna work on. But that’s the work side. I’m a father of two teenagers. We’re all stuck at home right now in the lockdown. The kids are starting to get back to school a couple of days a week. I’m popping in to the office maybe once a week. But we’re hitting our sort of peak in terms of infection rates. So I’m staying home, I’ve got 170 people in the country, all working remotely, working very well. We’ve managed to push our company into the digital age. In two, three months, we didn’t have a choice, but it’s actually working out very well. We’re maintaining. The economy’s terrible, it’s probably, it’s terrible throughout the world; we’re struggling, but we’ll get through this as a leaner, meaner more customer-obsessed company.
George: You and I have been talking quite a bit through this time and what I saw in you about three months ago, when we first started discussing as this event occurred, was you really pivoted to be a wartime CEO and everything’s under scrutiny and we were just talking before we came onto the podcast with the team here in the studio, probably I’ve never worked harder. I always thought that I was working hard, but I think that when you are faced with a challenge, certain individuals really dig in. Because they just aren’t going to accept an excuse or they’re going to look for the opportunity. The one thing I wanted to really ask about is your ascension, you get to be Chief Revenue Officer overseeing all of the revenue for an organization. You were Managing Director with managing director is a term that isn’t really used a lot in North America, but in other parts of the world that’s CEO, right? Like you’re running the thing.
Wayne: That’s the same thing; it’s the same thing.
George: But now here you are again as CEO. And I guess the question that I have, because we have a lot of, with a lot of entrepreneurs that are running their own business and they subscribe, we’ve got sales executives that work at large organizations, and then we’ve got sales leadership and CEOs. The question I have is how much of that DNA of sales because it’s your career, that’s what, when you look back at that resume that you quoted it’s sales, how much of that is now a part of your day-to-day as you run that business as the CEO?
Wayne: That’s a really good question. I think when I was Chief Revenue Officer, sort of sales directors in past lives, the one thing you realize you don’t control or influence is products and finance and all the other parts of the business and marketing. And the CEO role obviously now you have a, you can get involved in everything. And then what the sales side brings to it, that is a complete obsession with the customer. So whether it’s the finance department, I’ll be seeing how are they engaging with the CFOs or the finance departments of our clients and our big ad agencies, and all that being customer-centric and obsessed over there. Marketing. How’s our marketing engaging with our client base, you know, traffic and ad operations departments, right across the board? So everything’s with the sales right down to the front desk. I make sure that our front desk can answer that phone when we’re back one day. It’s customer-centric, everyone’s thinking, how can I help our customers? How can I help them, help them grow their businesses? And that’s a mindset that envelops the whole organization. I’m seeing it more and more. I’m seeing some friends of mine who are CEOs of companies who really are, essentially, the best sales leaders you can find, but I have a very broad scope. So I think in a day and age like this, the old days of very much CEO does this, sales does that we all gotta be in sales.
Hiring Through a Customer-Centric Approach
George: Wayne, it’s so timely that you bring that up. I was working with a few of our leadership where we’re in a fortunate position where we’re going to be able to accelerate our growth from a headcount standpoint, which is maybe a little counterintuitive as people are peeling back, but, we’re a software company in a growth stage and we know that some individuals are not working right now because of this unfortunate time. And, quote to Churchill, “Let’s not let a crisis go to waste.” We’re going to be Johnny-on-the-spot and go in and see if we can attract that talent. And one of the things when we were working with the recruitment and onboarding team, and I can’t, it’s so when I say that, it’s like, I’m over here in a surreal moment. Like we have two teams, their jobs are to recruit, onboard, and sometimes build a process to disqualify people that may have gamed the interview process and are now inside the company. And you wanna make sure they’re the right people. It’s a really interesting thing that we’re building. I call it at a machine where we’re going to find these people, but one of the things we talked about and it was just yesterday, was how do you vet that individual? And how do you instill that customer-centric view, where I’m not saying the customer’s always right, but at least have the seek to understand and the empathy and the ability to maybe show them where they may, maybe this isn’t right in the context, but not to basically say you don’t know what you’re talking about as a customer. And we all could talk about horror stories of individuals that we employed or maybe even in my earlier days, right? I did some stupid things, as I didn’t know any better. But how do you instill that into an organization and then also, how do you hire for that?
Wayne: Yeah, I think in terms of its setting, if there’s a certain culture that was with this company, I left 2010, was the last, I left there as group sales director. I’ve come back as CEO. Back then in 2010, they had the very first what they called the MOST Awards, the media owner, sales awards, which customers and ad agencies voted for the best in class. And I went up and I got the award back then for the best sales teams in the country. So that’s one way, that still stays with us. So there’s a culture of always super-serving our customers. But, and one thing I do internally, is that I’m always seeing how can we reward people, across every department? It’s not monetary awards. It’s just sort of shout outs, it’s recognition. And all of my town halls that I do, I reckon who can we recognize for going the extra mile for a client? You keep the studying that it’s not just the sales department, everyone’s involved in it. But I think a key point is also how do we hire for that? And one thing I’ll probably get on people’s nerves, but I always say anyone coming into the sales side, anyway, I want to meet them in the sort of final mile before they sign the dotted line. And I want to see what kind of people they are, I want to find out what motivates them. So there’s a sales guy that tells me, he’s motivated by money. I don’t want that guy. And it’s all about drive by my gains. I just want to get the money and move on. I want someone who says, “I’m here, I’m motivated and inspired by helping customers grow their business.” We’re getting a great successful campaign through a big ad agency on-air, a little bit of digital. And the money will flow later. But if they say they’re motivated by money, that’s the key driver. That’s not the kind of sales guy I want. ‘Cause we’re not setting as I think they’re saying the North American market aluminum siding, all right?
Wayne: So it’s attitude. I’m looking for the right attitude. I’m looking for people, as well, who challenge, That aren’t just coming in and saying I’ll do it the same old way or tell me what could be done better. What’s the market looking for? What are the pain points of clients? How are they going to do things differently? How are they gonna stand out and make a difference, and challenge their leaders? I want people who challenge, who can move mountains to get things done for our customers. And customers again you said the word that customer is always right. The customer’s not always right, but they are our King.
George: That’s interesting because we have this concept of, we want to super-serve the customer and sometimes super-serving the customer is to challenge a thought that they have or a methodology that they have that needs to change. And that’s a tough one, right? Because I think a lot of times in the old way of selling and here you are, you and I are talking about the old way of selling. It was about let’s build a relationship, let’s get that person to love us. And then when we got some remnant inventory, we can go to that person and sell it. And you know what I mean? While that might have been the right thing to do at certain times, I think it’s a whole different world now. And when you’re building a good relationship with a business partner, a customer, the ability to say, I think there might be a better way and here’s some data to back it up and it might not even relate to more revenue for you. But it’s the right thing to do for the customer. And that’s really where we’ve ended up. One of the things I wanted to interrogate Wayne is across your career. Any media and I, it really hit me as an epiphany the other day when I was listening to a, there’s a big consolidation going on in North America where Gannett, which is one of the largest newspaper companies and GateHouse, which they merged together, right. They created this super company and they’ve been going through some changes in leadership. I wanna make sure that I get close to quoting this correctly because if it’s gonna go out into the universe and people are gonna hear this thing. But the statement that was made by the managing, the CEO that’s coming into place was all around the audience that those 260 titles serve. And the fact that it’s the trusted source for news and information because that is the legacy of that brand that they’re trading on is; we have this audience; we’re the trusted voice. We’re the place that people go for that local information. And of course, national information, because that brand has USA TODAY. And it kind of smacked me right in the head that as an industry and this going to be, I might get in trouble for this —
George: But I don’t care. As an industry, we did a poor job of positioning the other side of the business. So here’s the side of the business that is around the newsroom and the way that we’re collecting this information or in the radio business around how the broadcasters are entertaining the audience and connecting with that local community. And I know that for Jacaranda and East Coast Radio, that’s a big part of the value proposition you bring to the market.
George: But what about the reps? What about the sales side of the organization? What about the relationship that they have with the business community? And over our careers, I guarantee you, if you and I get into a bottle of bourbon, we could tell a story about a client that phoned us and said, “Should I buy this?” And it wasn’t even our stuff, but it was because we were the trusted expert that they could reach out to get that guidance. And I don’t know if the media business has done a good enough job of having that as one of their value propositions is we have these local experts. We train them. Your thoughts on that, because I think that, that might be a controversial thing that I just said.
Wayne: Look, I totally agree with you. And since that’s not even, that is controversial to some media sales teams out there. But I’ve always said to my guys… the first three things you have to build with a client is trust. Is trust, trust, and trust. Once you’re trusted, you’re seen as almost an extension of their marketing department; you’re gonna help them grow their business. I want them to be able to come to you and ask for advice on other media types. Even other radio stations, you might actually say, “Listen, this is a great radio station for that market, we operate in this market.” You have to be trustworthy. So I’m making sure our guys are trained up across all media types. So climax, I want to use some out of home advertising along with my radio and a bit of digital, audio digital as well. What do you suggest? And I’m wanting my guys to be able to do that. And more and more, that’s how they build trust for the long term. So you might not even get a sale now. And especially right now, there’s this current period of COVID. We’ve finally seen a bit of a turnaround now in our direct smaller clients this month. The last three months they’ve been dead. They’ve been underwater; they’ve been drowning; they’ve been trying to survive. The guys have stayed in touch with them, they’ve kept sending them information snippets and said, “How are you doing? What can I do? How can I help you?” We’ve even gone to them and said, “We’re gonna give you some live interviews for your business for free, just to keep sustaining you, so you can survive through this time.” So it’s about building trust every single time and being an extension of their media department, their marketing department is the way I see it. But the trust is number one, and you get them back in and they stay with you. It’s not about the sale now. You might not get the revenue now. In fact what I say to the team, one of my town halls was, there’s a time to sort of reap revenue. And right now’s the time to cultivate relationships. That’s number one, right now. Build those relationships. Be there to help them get through this; we’re in this together; we feel the pain with them. We’ll get through this and get to the other side as long as they trust you that you’re not just trying to make a quick buck, trying to get money out of them right now. And then when they’ve failed, then you don’t really give a damn. So it’s a different mindset. There are certain people who get it. Most do, the ones that don’t obviously they’re not, core to being part of my future team.
George: It’s interesting. I’ve been doing a lot of a film review and this is what remote allows us to do. You can be on the call. You can watch the demo, you can watch the screen share. And we’ve got some young, new sales reps, maybe not new to selling, but new to our organization. And when I get on a call and I’m 15 minutes into the call and I watched them rush the prospect through that beginning portion of understanding their business. And then they’re like, yeah, I’m having a problem in getting this deal done. And we just go back to that first or second call and say, “You went right to solution without establishing that you were the right person to propose that solution.” Because you didn’t, you know, I like to call it the give a shit meter. In those first couple of questions, do you actually give a shit about the prospect, or are you just there because you give a shit about you? And the client can see that coming a mile away like that.
George: We all hate that if we’re buying a pair of shoes. And so it’s an interesting transition that we are going through. So Wayne, one of the things I wanted to interrogate with you, and I’m really excited to have this conversation because when we work with our partners and we work with our internal sales teams, a lot of people look at digital and they’re like, I wanna sell digital advertising. And there are a few people that smile when an advertising salesperson says, “I wanna go sell digital.” And I’ll tell you who those three people are. Larry, Sergey and Mark. So, right? Because what Google and Facebook did, was they built out an audience. They built an ecosystem, and then they leveraged all of the other salespeople on the planet to sell their stuff, which is quite brilliant, by the way. And I know you can go into Facebook and you could run an ad campaign, or you could do it on Google, but we both know that in this industry, the majority of those skews are sold. They’re not bought.
George: And we’re into this, years, into this thing. We had Todd Rowe who heads up Google for business in North America, on the podcast a few weeks back. Think that, I’m not saying anything negative because we sell a lot of Google and Facebook across the board.
Wayne: Yeah, of course.
George: But I guess the question comes into this.
Ensuring the Pipe Is Right
George: I know that you’re moving into adding digital marketing services to a company that traditionally has sold advertising. And I’ve been training people in this space for a number of years, and here’s the interrogation I wanna get into. You’ve got this ads seller, that’s very focused on building awareness for an organization. And now you’re able to sell the rest of the stack. And the rest of the stack is that consumer journey, and we’ve talked a lot about that on the Conquer Local Podcast around the gaps in that. So we run an ad campaign and the listings are broken. Well, that’s not quite gonna work out for you as a business. We run the ad campaign and I find a negative reputation. Well, that’s not gonna work out. And what I mean by not working out, is that at any portion after you’ve built that awareness, if the rest of the funnel isn’t airtight, you basically have just paid for your competitors. You might as well have just given them the budget because the competitor that has a better journey is going to win that client. So good. Now we get through, everybody’s like, yeah, George heard a million times. I can pretty much quote the episodes where you’ve gone through this ad nauseum. Here’s the challenge that I’d like to get your big brain around because you’ve been doing this for a long time. I believe that advertising is a separate sales motion. So you have this ad, the ad thing doesn’t change, we’re there and we’re having that conversation around. We need to build your brand. You have an excess of inventory you need to move. We need to come up with a creative way to put that in front of an audience. So that’s advertising. But what my proposal to you and where I wanna get your feedback, is we still need that foundational solution. We still need that thing that just is on all the time. Sometimes I’ve even said that that foundation of, are you open, and is your listing data correct? So that we can find you. And then can I trust you? Which is reputation. Word of mouth now, online, and then social. And then the website conversion point. That’s like having a point of sale system. That’s like having the flashing open sign outside of your business. That’s like having insurance. It’s like basic things that if you’re, it’s like having a power bill like you cannot run your business without those items. Now I digress a bit because I think it’s a different sales motion, not totally outside, but it’s different than ads. Because ads kind of come and go and they ebb and flow based upon the need of the client to build awareness or to move inventory. Whereas these other things are they’re on until canceled. They’re like you run them till you shut the business down. How are we gonna take salespeople to do both of those things? Because they’re very different.
Wayne: They are different. I mean, the thing is, there’s the advertising side, which is, hey, let’s get an ad out on air. Let’s put a banner up on our website or something and get some awareness for you. But what I’ve come to realize is that there’s often quite of bit a churn of the direct small, what we call direct market, this small-medium market. And that’s where 20% of our cash comes from for radio stations. Just a quick, we need to grow that dramatically because it should be 60-40. It protects us as well, we realized because when the big brands cut their marketing budgets, you’re in trouble. But back to the direct side of the smaller business, you’ll have a smaller business. They’ll do an ad campaign on the radio station. They’ll say they didn’t come back the following month. It didn’t work for me. And the reps will go, “Well, it didn’t work. We’re very sorry.” Then you sort it out… I’ve been saying, “Guys get their full presence.” Right now, if I hear your ad, I’m gonna go straight online and try to search for you, right? If I can’t find you, you’ve lost the sale. If you’ve got a terrible experience with your website or your e-commerce doesn’t exist, you’ve got a bad reputation on your social media pages. All these things mess up the initial campaign you did on the radio. And what happens is, they blame the radio station. They blame the ad campaign on the radio. So sitting with the sales guy, they finally got their heads around it through a lot of the training that your guys have been doing with them is I’m offering the full solution to my clients. So yes, you’ve got the awareness, but right down the funnel to getting that actual sale and especially getting e-commerce going as well because that’s the name of the game right now. We’re helping them grow their business, so they’re various business advisors, they’re moving away from being sales reps to kind of full business advisors and consultants. And that’s a whole new way of training then. So again, there’ll be those who are gonna adopt it and understand it quickly, and then move on. There are those who won’t get, but it’s looking for a different type of person. It’s here we go. You trust me, you trust my radio brand. I’m like offering a full solution, instead of having your son do your social media and your cousin around the corner build a website for you, here’s a full solution. We can see how it all works together. And that’s the only way we’re gonna be able to succeed as a trusted consultant for these guys.
George: One of the things that Dennis Yu had told me this a few years back when it was about a year after we met, and Dennis has been a guest in the podcast, a number of times. He said that you gotta get the pipes, right. And what you we’re talking about here is more around. You could go get your website over here and you could go over here and do your social, and you could go over here and buy some Instagram ads. But the only way that you’re going to understand if that funnel or that pipeline is working correctly, is if it’s tied together and you can put one lens over top of it to say, how are all of these different tactics working to bring it together? So to recap what you said, and thank you for validating my thought process on this. The rep who is used to selling advertising, keeping in mind that customers need advertising. Like I’m still a big proponent that you need to build your brand. You need to do it in various places, that hasn’t gone away. But I think that we now live in a time where we can actually do a lot more measurement. And just because you built that awareness, where did they go? They didn’t necessarily come through your pipe because if there’s a leak in that pipe at any of these other areas, it really is a game-changer.
George: For businesses to understand this. And I was working with an automotive group earlier this week and we were doing some analysis of the various funnels and we were analyzing their funnels to say, “Okay, we’ve come out of COVID. Our markets are opening up. We’re fortunate, you guys are on your way there soon. But what happened if the lead went to this listing site to see if you’re open.”
George: And it’s a pretty poignant discussion right now because you could go to any business online — And find some gaps in what’s online. Like if they’re doing a lot of curbside service that would be important to have on the listing source. Now, the listing sources, they moved quickly, to be able to allow that information to sit there, because they need the audience to interact with the source, to then drive the clicks. But then we go to the reputation portion. What are people saying about your post-COVID experience? So here’s the other thing.
George: I’m throwing everything out the window, that I know about a brand from beforehand. Happened to me last night, I’m trying to buy a door and a doorframe. I’m now on my third hardware store. It’s getting we’re after eight o’clock. So most stores close around nine o’clock during the weeknights, wife and I are driving across town. We’re like, we should maybe check online and see if the Co-op is open. Co-op lumberyard and lo and behold, she did. And it said it was open till nine. So we made the drive. And I was reluctant to make the drive because I know there’s construction on that street. And I show up at the Co-op hardware store. Do you wanna know where the story goes? They closed.
George: They closed at seven. Right? So they have a different set of hours, but they didn’t go and put that information online. And now the next day comes up and I’m gonna go to the hardware store close by because I don’t wanna go back through that traffic. We could go through story after story, we’re experiencing it as consumers. And we need our sales professionals who are trusted with helping that local customer, to articulate those stories and show them that’s why your revenue is down, or that’s why you’re not getting that customer base back, is because all the advertising in the world, if this other, these other pieces aren’t congruent. So it’s a really interesting time. And it’s a problem that we probably won’t solve in a podcast. But I did wanna get people thinking about you sell the foundational solutions in one way with one set of deliverables. And then you sell the advertising the same way that, read Roy Williams’s The Wizard of Ads, go back to that book where he talks about business morphine, and he talks about, branding and all of those things still apply, but what’s happened. And where advertising has taken a bit of a hit where you articulated it so well, we ran the campaign and now we got to understand what happened. It’s understanding the rest of that funnel and building that funnel really well to support the ad spend and make that thing work better.
Wayne: Look with, and I think right now, we’re still in, kind of still in this COVID kind of mode over here. The guys are emerging from it somewhat as we open the economy up a bit more, is that there’s a desire, a feeling I’m hearing from small or medium businesses to have a real, proper digital presence and online presence that they’ve never had before. It’s become more relevant than ever before because one of they aren’t trading directly in their stores, or you said curbside pickups and you write some, I’ll look at a certain restaurant and you’ll see it gives you the hours they’re open, they are actually not open yet. So guys haven’t fixed that. But there’s a need and want to get into this space and that now’s the time, more than ever before, for us to hold their hands, to utilize the trusted aura of our radio stations and all their presenters, who they have a personal relationship with, they feel, to go out there and say, “Here we’re gonna help you with your business and get that whole pipe right.” I love the word and I get those pipes, right, I mean, tied together. That completely makes sense.
Remote Work: Adaptability in Cultivating Relationships
George: One final question before we let you go, because I know it’s in the evening and I appreciate you making some time, also it’s winter. Well, not yet.
Wayne: Still early.
George: It’s fall. We’re headed towards winter in South Africa. Your sales team primarily before COVID liked to go face-to-face. Get in the car, drive across town, see a client. How proficient were they at performing their function remotely? The thing that we’re doing right now, where we’re on a Google Hangout and performing this podcast. And some tips, as organizations start to look inside and go, how are we doing in this remote revenue motion? Because it really changed the way that we deal with customers through this time, I’d like to just get your analysis of how your organization performed.
Wayne: Yeah. I mean, when it first hit it was I think it was sort of dazed and confused and thinking how long will this last for? So on the national side, what I call the big agencies, so when you have relationships already, it was a lot easier because you know them from face-to-face. So you need to pick up a phone, WhatsApp, we’re using Teams; we’re using Zoom. Set up for meetings, we set up all of the webinars. We had virtual hot desking is a big thing we’ve been doing lately. But on the direct side, where you had the relationship again, you kept staying in touch. How’s it going? How can I help you? What’s business looking like, what else can we do when you come out of this? Here’s a tip I heard from a national brand. But when you didn’t know the clients, the cold calling side, that pretty much came to a bit of a standstill on our direct business. Because it’s difficult to get hold of someone and just speak, them on the phone, right? Telly sales, the guys aren’t used to that. But the core kind of like a responsibility of the guys was to keep your existing clients, look after your existing clients. Now’s the time just to nurture them and keep them ‘til we get out of this. This isn’t the time to be sort of hunting as such. So, as we emerge now, I think there’ll be a lot more cold calling starting to happen to find new clients… But it’s been difficult, it’s been a whole new way of interacting. I’ll tell you, it’s separating out the brilliant from the good. And the guys that have started to do really well now, it’s because they were there for their clients in the dark days.
George: The other thing that I’m hearing from other sales leaders that you touched on is, you’ve got well, I can say this ’cause I am an old dog. So you’ve got old dogs and you’re teaching them new tricks and the really smart ones, which doesn’t include me because I’m not really smart, but the really smart ones are gonna realize that the inefficiency in their previous sales motion, where you would drive across town for an appointment, chances are the client would stand you up or be 20 minutes late. You would have to put this big hole in your calendar of two hours ’cause you got traffic, you got to allow for the fact that the client might not be ready at the time before you put it into another meeting and you’re sitting here going, no, I could schedule a Zoom meeting, after Zoom meeting or Google Hangout after Google Hangout or Microsoft Teams, after Microsoft Team meeting and hit five or six customers without having that drive, without having that. I feel that the people that are really in this to win it will, if they’ve done it a few times and start to get good at it, they’ll realize that this is a game-changer for the efficiency. Now, the other thing is the buyers are actually saying they like it better too. And we have data points to back this up where the business buyers are saying, “I’m busy too, thank you for respecting that time and giving me the ability to do this remote.” Because if they’re not in the operation, they’re at the back shop, wherever they are, they pop it up on their phone and they’re still able to have the meeting. So it’s a very interesting time.
Wayne: That’s yeah, that’s exactly, I mean the productivity has gone up with the guys that know how to do it. Some of them say that it’s harder, others say that they’re loving it because they eventually get out there, they’ll go see their key clients and you will keep the relationships going because nothing beats face to face, but they’re getting more calls in a day. There’s less loose talk. If you’re gonna do a pitch deck, it’s shorter to the point and ask 30 minutes. It’s not an hour and an hour and a half where it’s 30 minutes to the point, bang, bang, bang. And as you said, you could be walking around with your phone in your hand having a video conference and catching up and discussing it. So I think their productivity is gonna increase massively. It’s gonna save fuel costs and there’s no need to even come to the office they realized. There’s no actual need to come in, maybe you come in once or twice a week. I think the whole way we’re gonna work. When we get back, I don’t think I’ll need the same office size, at all anymore. Probably cut that office space in half.
George: It’s interesting. You’re the fourth person in the last 48 hours that are CEOs of organizations telling me that. Let’s leave that, you and I will discuss that the next time. We get to see each other. Wayne, it’s a pleasure. I was really pushing to get you on the show because your career, you’ve been in the business for a long time. And with the right mindset of helping that customer, you’ve built really deep relationships. I’ve met people that have known you for years, and you’ve always been professing this gospel of customer-centric revenue motion. And we appreciate getting those learnings from you, wish you and your teams all the best. Got to know a number of your fine folks. You do a great job of recruiting and bringing on talent. I will tell you that. And for you and your family. All the best and stay safe and say hi to my friends in South Africa. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet. And we hope that that economy and those great people come out of this better when we are on the other side.
Wayne: George, thank you so much for this catch-up. It’s been always brilliant catching up with you and discussing and shooting the breeze about what’s gonna work best for our customers. But what I really wanna do, is when this whole damn thing’s over is to get you out over here for a good old braai and a braai, of course, as a South African barbecue, and a few glasses of our best Franschhoek and Stellenbosch wines. And then that’s what I’m going to do with you.
George: Wayne, I’m looking forward to it. You have a guarantee that that’ll happen sooner than later. Have a great day.
Wayne: All the best, take it easy. Bye-bye.
George: Well, Wayne said a lot of things, but I wanna come back to his theme at the very beginning. And really it is Wayne’s mantra. It’s, “Be customer-centric.” And the interesting thing is he’s really come up with some methodology and his leadership team to reward people that follow this key tenant of Mediamark, where we are all focused. But what he did say was interesting. It isn’t always money, that they pass those rewards forward. And it’s something that I’m bad at. It’s one thing that I admit. I think that a lot of people that are moving really fast are bad at this. I also think that some individuals who don’t like praise or don’t like people saying, “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” Like, no, you pay me, and I wake up every day to do a great job and I do it because it’s my pride. But what Wayne is saying is it does mean a lot to people to recognize when they’ve taken that extra step. And what it does, what it has a tendency to do when you can hear him in his comments, really dig into this. It has a tendency to instill it in the culture of the organization. And I believe when we exit whatever this thing is that we’ve been going through. And now we’re in the post side of COVID. I think it’s the business people and the entrepreneurs and the professionals that wake up every day to really take care of their most precious resource. So the most precious resource that we have is our team, is the people that we work with every day that we go into battle with. But then our second most precious resource are the people that we serve. And I would say in servant leadership, you serve both of them. You serve the team that you work with, but you also serve that customer base. And we just have to look at a long list of failed organizations or organizations that once were great, that lost sight of the fact that the customer and the team of people that we choose to serve that customer are those two most precious resources. Wayne had a number of other nuggets in there that he’s dealing with right now. The fact that local businesses, they need to do a better job of serving those local businesses and helping to solve their problems. They can’t just be a one-trick pony that walks in to sell ads and solve the awareness problem. That the business owner is looking for more solutions, and they’re looking for trusted experts that understand the entire ecosystem. And we discussed some tactics as to how you might go to market. I think there are some really good learnings in there, around how I really struggled with this. I don’t think that we should be positioning ads and foundational digital marketing services in the same conversation. I think you wanna separate them out because they’re separate tactics. They need to be measured separately and one piece needs to be there for the other to be successful. So some learnings there and some validation of things that we’ve been talking about from somebody that lives it every day. Thanks to Wayne Bischoff, for joining us. And thanks for you. Our most precious resource, our listeners, and our subscribers that join us all over the world for the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.