So you want to be a Radio Advertising Sales Person?

One of the most miserable jobs on the planet is sales. You’re stuck between the customer and the product. If anything goes wrong it’s your fault. You are often selling things to people they don’t need or want. In radio it can be even harder, because clients sometimes have unreasonable attitudes and expectations. You are assesed on hitting your tagets. You don’t hit, you get fired. You are mostly on the road alone… and your company doesn’t appreciate how hard it is!

Radio Sales is a tough profession. Only a handful of people in my experience really excel at it. On the bright side it can be fun, challenging and financially rewarding… IF you are good at it. Hopefully I can give you some hints on how to be a great sales person from what I have experienced and observed.

Work Harder

The best sales people work hard at it! You have to do more presentations to do more sales. You have to close more business to hit your ever increasing targets. The higher your targets the better the commissions.

Work Smarter

You need to be well organized. Try to get all your appointments on one side of town, at the same time! Communicate with your Sales Manager and keep a well filled in diary (on line shared ones are great). Know how to report to your SM. Keep appointments and if you’re late, call ahead! Make time for paperwork. If you’re brighter and sharper in the afternoons, make sure your afternoons are nothing but selling…. Or the other way around! If you find yourself at your desk with nothing to do (cancelled appointments etc.) use the time to make appointments, cold call, follow up.

Don’t try to sell radio

It may sound like a cliché, but don’t try and sell your clients spot…. try to sell them solutions. I’ve had sales people come to me wanting an “idea for the client”… well what is the client trying to achieve? What’s their problem? What’s the brief? If I don’t know, how are we supposed to offer a solution. It’s easy to sell toothpaste because it solves a problem, be it cavities, bad breath or sensitive teeth. Find out what the client solves and then you can show the client how we can communicate that to listeners.

Work with clients

Don’t be a sales person, be the person trying to help their business. Know advertising and marketing. You are sitting along side them, not on the other side of the desk.

Be trustworthy.

Imagine you have a client who asks you what their opposition is about to do on your station. If you tell them, they will think that you will tell people about their business. Just answer “I’m sorry, just like your business with me in confidential… the same is true for the stations other clients.”

Ask for Money

Sales people should not be afraid to ask for money. You are worth the money, your time and effort You should be confident that your product can deliver solutions. If you’re not… go to another station or get out of radio.

Know your product

It’s amazing how many people selling radio don’t listen to the station… ever! You need to know your product. But remember you’re not selling the station, you’re selling solutions

Work with your writers and producers

It should not be a war between departments. Give decent deadlines to your people for them to turn the work around. Most creatives stay in radio because they really care about doing a good job for clients. Hey! I can write an ad in 20 minutes… but I wont have given it much thought, or gone through the brief carefully. Use the writers to meet with clients and present the scripts. Try if possible to do this in the station, since in most stations the writer will be servicing several sales people. If you lie to your writers, or mess them around it’s only natural that they wont feel so good about you, and the work you get will suffer. Praise goes a long way. If you don’t like a script… ask them how it answers the brief?

Every call is a selling call…

There is no such thing as a “service call”. Yes you can pop into see the client and have a coffee, see how the campaign is going, but have something in your briefcase. “Hey! The weather is up for sponsorship and this would be ideal for you to support your spot campaign”.

Be tenacious but realistic

There are potential clients who say they will spend and end up just wasting your time. They get pleasure from calling you across town, making you wait, dangling the carrot and then sending you back to the station empty handed. You’re maybe doing spec script after spec script. Don’t be a sucker!! If a client is wasting your time, leave it and move on to something worth doing.

“Laying siege to a city is only done when other options are not available.”
“If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength”
The Art of War by Sun Tzu, 600 BC

Don’t “dis” the competition.

It’s amazing the reactions of some sales people when they hear the client is considering another station. Don’t fall into the trap of bad mouthing the opposition. In one market I worked in a small station was offering a silly price on airtime. Instead of telling the client how worthless the station was I told them they should lock into that price for a year and sign a contract… I told them how great their creative writer was and which sales person they should deal with because they were top radio people. THEN they should be on our station too, since they needed to reach our listeners (a significantly higher number and of the right target market). The client signed.
It’s the same with radio, TV and online. The radio will work more than twice as hard if they are using other media. Of course there are ways they can free some money up to fund their radio campaign.

How do you get a job in Radio Sales?

Cold call. Call the radio station, ask to see the Head of Sales… if you get to talk to them take a brief. Are they making enough sales? Are they short of sales staff? If you’re too shy to pick up the phone and sell yourself, then sales is not the career for you.

Make an appointment and pitch yourself… how would YOU solve their problem!

Have a small gimmick… something they will remember you for. Something like leaving your contact details in an unusual form… like printed on the bottom of a rubber duck. (I’ve used that… copyright me! Get your own idea!)

Then close the sale. Leave them with no doubt that you want to work for them. When can you start?

If they don’t have any vacancies at least they have someone who made an impression…. Follow up!

Let me know how you get on!

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Footfall…. on your website?!

I was sent a brief the other day, and the Sales Person had mentioned that the client wanted “footfall” to their website. I hate the expression “footfall” anyway… but when it’s related to a website! What’s that all about?
This almost falls into the category of “I just want to get my name out there!”

No Mr, or Ms. Client… what you want to do is make sales!

Footfall means “people through the door”… which on first looking seems like a reasonable request. If a business can get people through the door surely that’s half the battle?

Wrong. Maybe 5% of the battle.

OK here’s an admission. I have a little hobby, which is doing some simple close up magic and a handful of card tricks. One weekend a car dealership was having an open weekend. They booked me to do some card tricks at a table… and a clown, and a bouncy castle and a few other bits and pieces.

For two days the showroom was filled with the wrong kind of people. People who wanted freebies, or someone to entertain their kids. The sales people were too busy chasing unsupervised kids to actually do any selling! And if there WERE any suitable prospects they would have been lost in the crowds of freeloaders.

A good radio campaign will target the right people, people who want to buy your product or use your service and get them to visit your outlet or website (if you SELL online). Would you rather have 20 people who WANT to buy through your doors… or 200 people who have no intention of buying?

Of course if you have poor sales staff on the floor, those 20 may get away. Radio can bring you customers, but only you can convert them to sales.

Tell people what you want them to do… give them a good reason to do it…. And be prepared to sell to the people who respond.

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A Bouncy Castle to brighten your day.

Radio – Getting Back on the Path

I found this today. Challenging and in my opinion… spot on!

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Not “too little information” just “not the right information”.

The sales person looked across the desk at me. The look.. a little bit frightened and confused. I know that a trapped animal can be dangerous… I once worked in a facility that rescued abandoned animals and I’ce seen that look before… just before the claws come out. I try the explain that the brief she’s given me is just rubbish… that the person who took it… namely her… has not used an ounce of common sense. That a 5 year old child with no radio advertising experience could have done a better job. That she was using up valuable oxygen that a sentient lifeform other than her could have been putting to good use.

Of course I tried to put it more diplomatically

The problem was the brief. Since the advent of email it’s been all to easy to just take what a client has mailed and paste it into the brief sheet, without taking any time to process, thing about it, and more importantly… to discuss with the client about how radio works and fashion a brief that will actually help the client.

When I joined a radio station in the UK I was bombarded with piles of information… the previous writer had told the sales execs that they were not giving enough information. The problem wasn’t the quantity but the quality. Masses of information just confuse me. You give me 6 points in a brief, I will chose the one that I have a great idea for… but it may not be the most important point to the client (or more importantly, the potential customer). Then we get the backwards and forwards of “the client doesn’t like the script”.

When you hear a local radio ad and you’re wondering “what was that about?” you’re asking the same question the writer had when he wrote the commercial. If it’s not fixed BEFORE the briefing, you will never get good commercials

A good brief is short.

If it’s longer, it’s probably 2 or more ads.

If it’s got several Selling Propositions… you should be thinking several ads!

The problem, as I see it, is that Radio Stations worldwide don’t invest in training their sales staff in radio advertising. I am happy to say that most of the groups I have worked for in the past have…. But there is still too much emphasis on “double glazing” sales techniques, and closing… than there is on being advertising consultants for their clients. The GREAT sales people I have worked with have made huge commissions by helping their clients to achieve their goals… and by standing up to their clients when they made the kinds of descisions that can RUIN a client’s campaign. Here are some useful phrases to help you on your way….

“I can’t get you on air tomorrow… we need to make sure your ad is spot on… and that takes a bit of time!”

“Thanks for all the information you gave me… now I’d like to ask the questions we need to answer to create you a great radio campaign!”

“If you want to say that… let’s create another commercial… now… why is it important to our listeners?”

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