Effective Radio Salespeople

Effective Radio Salespeople
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

The salesperson’s job is to get information from the advertiser in front of the radio listener. Essentially, you’re moving information from one source to another. If you’re proficient and persistent, you’ll make a good living. In this millennium of communication available 24 hours, you have to manage your time effectively and stay informed to your clients wants and needs.

Collect materials regarding your prospects

Get a hold of any trade journals they may subscribe to and read them. Perform a strategy session with your potential new client. This will give you more confidence and allow you to give a better initial presentation. How much time you are willing to invest to make a sale is up to you. If you’re proposal is for a $20,000 buy, 15 percent commission is $3,000 dollars. Is it worth doing a few hours’ research and writing to place you in a much improved situation to close the sale? Ask yourself a question; is your time worth $1,000 an hour?

Arrange formal written presentations

The time preparing writing presentations should be precisely related to the size of the order you’re seeking. Written presentations compel you to think about your client’s problem and make you a better salesperson. Advertising clients appreciate concise, right-to-the-point presentations. It gives them documentation validating their decisions to their business associates in the community.

Conduct face-to-face presentations

Making face-to-face presentations then asking for the order is your job. The reminder of your influence selling activities places you in a position to do the job correctly. The appointment setting, planning, presentation writing and research all places you in the position to ask for the order. If you’re servicing a client you already have on the air, make another appointment, assemble more information, arrange another presentation, and upsell the client!

Upselling current advertisers

Remember: The ride down is easier than the ride up! Instead of purchasing a schedule, advertisers are buying name awareness and an action plan that will meet their goals. Most clients on the air are underspending and are frustrated with the radio medium. It’s all about frequency. The rest is conversation. If a client needs to spend more (and who doesn’t), here’s what to do:

Tell the advertising client: “This is the largest schedule you’re allowed to purchase on our radio station. Running this schedule will increase frequency, visibility, and you’ll be the most important advertiser of the day, week or month you’re on the air.” Now, hand the client the big schedule with their business name printed on it. Clarify that each name represents one ad and that each individual ad contains an additional five or six impacts.

What happens when the client says, “The schedule is too big.” Don’t panic! Just agree with the client, saying; “It is a big schedule.” Then, hand the client a pen and the schedule and say, “Which of our listeners don’t you wish to reach? Just scratch off the commercials you don’t desire and I’ll re-arrange the schedule.”
Now, the client must scratch off his business name instead of: 60s and: 30s. Have any idea how difficult that is? Explore this technique and show the client what running fewer spots means in terms of less name awareness. If the client does scratch off a few names, when he stops, you’ve closed the sale for all the names and dates that are left! Your client has just committed to purchasing the remaining air dates. Use this tactic to make radio advertising physical and you’ll develop more clients and have them close the sale for you.

Dealing with tough objections

If you’ve sold radio advertising for any length of time, you’ve heard all of these:
“Your rates are too high”
“I don’t like the music you play”
“Nobody listens to radio”
“I tried radio and it didn’t work”
“My budget is already allocated”
“I just saw your ratings book and you really slipped”
“Send me your media kit and call me next week”

Your rates will always be too high. The ratings will constantly be too low. Controlling tough objections requires talented communication skills that get to the actual problems. Top billers don’t cave at the first sign of an objection. It’s usually not the real one in most cases. The best method for handling objections lies in obtaining more information.
Reversing is often the best technique in obtaining feedback. To reverse a client’s objection, remain calm. The most successful radio salespeople take objections as well as rejections in stride, treating them as information rather than personal attacks. When reversing, you’re demonstrating you’ve listened to the objection and need more information. When you close the reverse, ask a question that the client must finish. This will “reverse” the objections back to the clients.
Reversing is a great skill for turning a false objection into a real objection. Discovering the real reason a potential client doesn’t like your station places you that much closer to the sale. Top performers know objections are just hurdles, not brick walls. Numerous clients will place hurdles up trusting that you’ll be the one to leap over them. When you do, you’ll be the kind of salesperson they want to have calling on them.

Developing methods for building rapport and sales

Radio salespeople build rapport when they engage the client’s jargon rather than their own. Efficient pacing is the skill to acquire. This means copying or mirroring some aspect of the client’s behavior. Pace the body language your client is using. Cross your leg at the same time he does. Attempt to mirror the position your client takes. If your client’s vocal tone is soft, soften yours. If the client talks slowly and you talk fast, slow your rate of speech down to help build trust.

People tend to like people who are like themselves. This may not always be fair, but it’s the truth. If you’re talented, you can pace the mood of the client. Pacing gets you and the client on the same even keel. When you are selling easily, this happens naturally. By pacing a client you should be able to establish rapport quickly and with more clients.
Clearly, you don’t want to be dragged down by the lousy mood of a client. After you’ve paced the client’s behavior for a while, attempt to lead. Settle down with a client for a few minutes. Pace his or her body language. At some point, shift your body language and notice if the client follows your lead. If that happens you’ve obtained some rapport and the client will be more receptive to your presentation.

Persistent people make their breaks

Radio is fueled by good sales people and is always on the lookout for talented people who can produce. They certainly can come from other sales professions, car sales comes to mind. Any good salesperson can make it in radio sales. Many stations are not opposed to hiring new employees who exhibit a willingness to learn and work hard.
Here’s some good news, most radio stations are more than happy to train qualified enterprising people. Like most professions, you’ll acquire the lingo over time. The significant skill you’ll be taught immediately is understanding Nielsen ratings and the correct manner in which to present ratings to potential clients so they can:
1 Identify who is listening, when, and for how long
2 Understand the demographics your station (s) can provide
3 Why the cost is efficient
4 The type of spot (commercial) inventory is available

Radio stations won’t just throw you out into the street and yell “perform.” Most will teach you sales skills useful in selling radio time, allow you to accompany a Veteran Account Executive (you’re not called Salesman anymore), on client calls, and allow you to become accustomed to the broadcasting universe.
How much you’ll make is pretty much up to you. Generally stations will start you off on a salary “draw” until you grow to a point where your sales commissions are providing a higher income than your draw. From there, it’s up to you how much money you make. If you’re motivated and stick with it, you can do very well.

Whenever you sign a new client offer them a tour of the station so they may see the ‘showbiz’, after all they’re investing in your company so be proud to show off where the magic is located. It’s amazing how effective this can be in establishing a long-term association and repeat business. Reward clients and visitors with some ‘free stuff’ (i.e. branded promotional items, t-shirts, mouse pads, whatever) as this helps create an experience they’ll remember.

One last point

Always maintain your rate-card. Don’t ever discount! Offer bonuses instead. Once you’ve started discounting your rate-card, clients will always expect you to do the same, which can really hurt your bottom line long-term. A better approach is maintaining your rate-card but add some incentives such as a small banner on the station website or a pre-determined amount of ‘bonus spots’.
Good-luck!

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