Interactive Sales Training Exercise

One of the exercises I often include in sales training sessions is an interactive Q & A which is notable for the consistency of its responses from audience members all over the US and translates well into print; so I thought I would share it here today.

The core theme of the Q&A is productivity and learning to overcome anything that may get in the way of your own personal goals. To begin, take a piece of paper and begin to write down in list form anything that, in your opinion, makes your selling job harder. You have complete free reign here - from the things that annoy you most about your own station (formats, ratings, individual programs, owners' reputations, etc.), through the trials and tribulations of dealing with agencies, the stubbornness of clients, the economy, politics, your competitors, the local shopper and on and on.

A typical list, when prepared in group session, might look something like this:

Things that make selling radio more difficult:
Poor station ratings
Clients' Budgets
Agencies
Unrealistic targets
New format
Clients don't call back (voice mail)
Local paper
Other (competition) station
Clients don't know enough about advertising
Yellow Pages

This can go on for as long as you let it of course, but after a while most new items become variations of previous entries. Once you have this list, take a marker pen and go through each item in turn, crossing it out if it is something that you, personally, do not have any control over.

By this I mean reject any difficulty that it is impossible for you to change. For example, the first entry, "poor station ratings", is something entirely out of your control. You're in sales; you don't control the programming or the marketing or the tower strength of the station. So strike that one out and repeat this process all the way down the list. Your revised list may look something like this:

Things that make selling radio more difficult that I can control:
Poor station ratings
Clients' Budgets
Agencies
Unrealistic targets
New format
Clients don't call back (voice mail)
Local paper
Other (competition) station
Clients don't know enough about advertising
Yellow Pages

The result is a very different list indeed. Though simple, this process forces us to focus our energies on the things we can effect - the true definition of increasing productivity. All of us would agree that constantly trying to force the outcome of things we have absolutely no control over is a useless task - and one that drains our energy and resources. Yet, this is precisely what most sales people do, most of the time.

If you want to effect real increases in productivity then channel your energies into those few, simple areas where you can effect maximum change. In the example above, finessing our cold calling and training ourselves to educate our clients more effectively and efficiently are the only two items from the ten we began with that we can profitably try to alter.

On a general level in radio sales, the number of areas in which we have any significant control is actually very small. This should certainly not be seen as a disadvantage however; the fact that huge increases in result can be seen from focused improvements in just a few areas (mainly cold-calling, number of appointments, finessing presentations, closing) means that such increases are available to everybody.

However, to do this effectively we have to be willing let go of some of our traditional complaints, however uncomfortable that might be. Increasing productivity is truly in your hands - but that means it's also your responsibility. Losing sight of the shore isn't always easy, but it's the only way new discoveries are made.

(Article printed from ARIA Connect - the online resource for radio sales professionals: www.aria-radio.com)

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