Broadcast engineering managers need a toolbox full of technology, solutions and the people skills it takes to lead a group of creative, intelligent people. The job also requires the ability to make spending money seem like a good idea. Some call this talent salesmanship.
Broadcast stations are sales organizations. As such, engineering managers must interface with sales people by speaking their language. Most other department heads are sales-oriented, and most GMs and above are or were salespeople. The best salespeople are risk-takers who love to be sold. I made my case for a generator by suggesting what a calamity it would be if we went off the air during the Super Bowl. But, what were the chances of that happening? Most thought that much money would be better spent on a new news set. Had I instead emphasized the benefits of the generator in supporting the station’s million-dollar branding project, I might have seen better results. Talking like an engineer to a group of salespeople is not the most effective form of communication. What most sales-oriented people want to know and relate to best are these five words: “What’s in it for me?” Anything else is fine print.
How do salespeople communicate? Most successful ones use what’s called the FAB model. FAB stands for features, advantages and benefits. Features can be seen and probably touched. A feature could be a color, a specification or perhaps a special function. An advantage is an attribute that makes what is being sold superior to other choices. Is it faster or cheaper? Is it demonstratively more effective than its competition? A benefit is perhaps better described as: What’s in it for me? What problem does it solve? What value does it add? How will life and/or business improve if money is spent on what you’re trying to sell?
People with sales experience will recognize and appreciate your use of the FAB model because it matches how they think and sell. It’s a very efficient and persuasive tool that's virtually invisible if you're not looking for it.
The key is to remember is that only you and your fellow engineers care about bits, bytes, nuts and bolts. What the people you are selling your ideas to care about is making money, because that’s what a sales organization does. If you can convince your peers they will make more money and continue making more money by agreeing with your recommendation, they probably will.
The last thing an engineering manager wants to do is to ask for more money to complete a budgeted project. The next to the last thing an engineering manager wants to do is to replace a capital item before it is written off. That’s why identifying present needs, predicting future needs and knowing the real-world cost is so important when identifying new equipment for purchase. Establishing a cost usually starts with predicting and specifying future needs. That’s when it’s time to factor in N+1.