Unveiling the secrets of local media sales mastery: Insights from Jeffrey Sleete.


In this wide-ranging interview with Jeffrey Sleete, a seasoned media sales consultant with a rich radio and TV advertising sales background, we delved into his approach to media sales and the principles that have guided his successful career. Sleete, who now writes a column for E&P Magazine, shared his ideas on various aspects of how to successfully engage small businesses in today’s challenging local media ecosystem.

Timeless sales strategies rooted in storybook favorites
Sleete’s articles often draw parallels between classic literature and sales strategies, making his advice both memorable and practical. For instance, his column “Take Some Advice from Sam I Am” uses Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” to illustrate persistence in sales. “The key to sales is to keep bringing ideas,” Sleete emphasized. “If your closing ratio is 1 in 10, you can significantly improve your monthly billing by consistently presenting new ideas to your clients.”

In another popular column, “Following the Yellow Brick Road to Sales Success,” Sleete draws inspiration from “The Wizard of Oz.” He recounts a personal experience of watching the film on the big screen, noting how the deliberate mathematical error made by the Scarecrow symbolizes the importance of understanding the numbers in sales. “You’ve got to know your numbers,” he stressed. “If you don’t know where you need to be on a specific week in a month, how can you coach your team to success?”

Back to basics
Throughout the interview, Sleete emphasized the enduring nature of sales fundamentals despite the evolution of media and technology. “Sales hasn’t changed,” he noted. “What’s old is new. It’s déjà vu all over again.” He believes understanding the client’s needs and goals and crafting solutions around them remains the cornerstone of successful sales.

Sleete also critiqued the current focus on product-specific training at the expense of broader sales strategies. “We’re still training too much on the products,” he argued. Instead, he advocates for training focusing on understanding the audience and using the right tools to meet their needs. This approach, he believes, is crucial in today's diverse media landscape.

Curiosity: The hallmark of a successful sales rep
When hiring the right salespeople, Sleete values curiosity above all else. “Curiosity, for me,” he said, “is the most important quality.” He shared a unique hiring tip: watching candidates as they leave the interview to see if they have a hustle in their step. “If there was a hustle in their step, I wanted to talk to them again.”

Sleete also highlighted the importance of business curiosity, the ability to quickly grasp the essence of a client’s business and speak their language. “There's a language and terms specific to their industry,” he explained. A sales rep who can navigate these nuances effectively is likelier to build trust and close deals.

The importance of creativity today
According to Sleete, creativity is critical in today’s competitive sales environment. He lamented the prevalence of institutional advertising, which he believes fails to drive results. “It doesn’t work,” he said bluntly. Instead, he advocates for ads that create a sense of urgency and deliver clear, value-driven messages. “Women are still buying shoes but buying a cheaper brand. You’ve got to get that message across.”

Sleete’s insights reflect a deep understanding of sales dynamics and a commitment to helping clients succeed. His ability to blend traditional sales wisdom with modern strategies makes his columns a valuable resource for sales professionals seeking to navigate the complexities of today’s media landscape.

For those looking to enhance their sales skills, Jeffrey Sleete’s columns in Editor & Publisher Magazine offer a wealth of knowledge, blending practical advice with engaging storytelling. His emphasis on fundamentals, curiosity and creativity provides a roadmap for achieving sales success in any era.


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