Let's Talk Turkey!

Everyone at your radio station sells. I'm not concerned with what job people actually do at your station but ultimately they're all selling something, and they're selling something about you.

All the people who work with you and around you are absolutely involved in the selling of your station, your airtime, your brand, and your format. And more; they are even selling something about your company's policies, positions, people, and beliefs.

Do you know what's falling from everyone's mouths, and what's really falling from yours?

If you don't you may be headed for certain mediocrity, even disaster; perhaps you're already there.

Everything always begins at the top, including the 'selling'.

It's imperative that your executive team: the GM; the Station Manager; the PD; the Chief Engineer; the Music Director; the Finance Officer; the Traffic Manager, even the announcers; its vital that everyone understands and believes what it is they should be selling.

Perhaps everyone at the radio station should even be asked to put in a few sales calls every month.

I can already vividly imagine the immediate hue and cry from the non-sales folks, but most of the excuses will only be fear-based, won't they? Yet it is vitally important to not only understand the trials and challenges faced by salespeople, but to also get some understanding and feel for what the station's customers and listeners really want; for what we're really supposed to be selling.

Your executive team (sales-related or not) is the core of your station's direction and outcomes. They, through their directions, their actions, their true inner-feelings, their water cooler talk, and what they are even putting out spiritually, affect what's happening to the station.

Take a good hard look at your sales team.

Does everyone at the station support them? Does everyone understand what it is the sales team really goes through, or what your clients really need? Does the PD not only know the company names of your top-ten advertisers, but does she or he also know the key decision makers' names, and what they're expecting as a result of advertising with you? What about how much they spend? Does everyone at the station truly and honestly believe in the power of advertising; advertising on radio; and the power of advertising on your station? Do you hold tight on your published advertising rate card, or do you discount and bonus at any cost to get the sale? In other words does everyone believe in the station's philosophies and commercial value?

There's not much point in having a commercial radio station or selling air space if you're not doing it at a profit, is there?

That's why we have salespeople.

To pay for our salaries, to keep the lights on, and to make a profit. Anyone can sell at a discount but to hold tight on to the rate and to bring in profit, that takes a professional salesperson, that takes an entire radio station.

Having a team that sells well (and at a profit) begins at the top, and not just with the sales manager but with everybody.

When a salesperson comes back to the station and says that they can't sell at full rate because the economy sucks; or because the client wants a discount; or the listening audience isn't the right demographic; or no one is listening because the format is all wrong; or even because the sky has turned green, does your sales manager know how to respond? Does your management team know what to say? Do your managers, your middle-managers, and the entire crew know, understand, and believe what you're doing as a station is the absolute right thing?

Remember you can't con a con, so the belief and passion needs and must be true.

While it's a good idea, it's probably impractical to send all your managers and staff out on sales calls. Instead, why not institute some customer and listener focus groups? Everyone needs to know who your customers are. Enable them to be able to meet and listen to your customers - because it's your customers, your advertisers and your listeners who should be defining your market for you.

Your advertisers and listeners will let you know whether or not you are different from the guys down the road, and if so, in what ways, and whether it's important or not. Get your team to find out what you need to sell, what your 'actual' product is, how best you should be taking it to your business and listening market, and even about what changes you should make that would allow you to hold published rate card or to even charge more.

Everyone from the PD down needs to understand all this (and more) if they're going to play a significant and positive role in setting company policy, plans, direction, consequences, passion-building, and deep inner-belief.

We've all heard the slogan "radio gets results"; yet when I'm out there on the road traveling from station to station training, teaching, and lecturing, rarely do I ever get to look into the eyes of a true believer.

If your executive team and you don't have these 'eyes' you may be doomed to fail because if we're "talking turkey", you can't give what you haven't got. You can't give it to your team, your family, your advertisers, your listeners, or you.

Sell without regret

Michael Tate