A while back I read an article titled “Are Sales People About to Become Extinct?” It got me to thinking about how many radio sales people have been RIF’d over the years since the industry began consolidating. I remember reducing my last radio sales staff by two-thirds back in 2009 per ownership fiat. Then I would read how sales were down in the radio industry.
Feet on the Street
All of my radio life, one of the secrets to more sales was having more feet on the street. More people uncovering sales problems, coming up with big ideas and helping retailers to increase their cash register rings.
Until one day, it wasn’t.
All due to people who never worked a day in radio, let alone radio sales, making the call about staffing needs.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect
You probably have never heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Let tell me you about it and see if it sounds familiar.
Dunning and Kruger postulated that for a given skill, those who are incompetent will:
- Fail to recognize their own lack of skill
- Fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy
- Fail to accurately gauge skill in others
Know anyone like that?
Radio Looks Easy
To everyone outside of radio, the business looks easy. Everyone can tell you what you’re doing wrong. Trouble is, they really don’t have a clue.
So, with the advent of computers and the internet, those spreadsheet wielding MBAs were ready to show us radio folks how to more efficiently run our radio stations. One of those areas they addressed were the need for large radio sales teams.
Technology, they said, had changed the way people buy stuff.
Why not the way radio advertising is bought too?
So, sales forces were trimmed, and programmatic buying was introduced.
But is that really the problem we should be addressing?
Perception IS Reality
Mark Ritson an adjunct professor at the Melbourne Business School in Australia has showed people on that continent that of the $15 Billion Australian ad marketplace, 8.4% is spent on radio advertising and 39% is spent on digital advertising. Quoting PWC, he said the trend line is for radio advertising to decrease to 7% while digital media will account for 51% of all ad-spend by 2020.
Yet, Ritson says the digital media known as social media is “vastly over-exaggerated” by marketers for its ROI.
In the current generation of digital media, we know that two things are true:
- No one is looking for more ads
- High Quality Content Rules
So, what’s the answer?
Every form of media needs to look in the mirror at itself and be honest about its advertising content and the quantity of ads it’s running. (Note: Running more bad ads was never a solution to making your budget number.)
Whether we’re talking about the songs we program, the banter of our personalities, the content of our talk shows or the quality/content of our ads, it’s ALL important in a world where high quality content rules.
Media sales today is more about building partnerships than transactions. It is one where consistency and trust are the foundation upon which today’s sales professional becomes a sustaining resource to the businesses they serve.
Advertising is influencing. Influencing is fueled by relationships.
Whether it’s the relationship between an air personality and the audience or the sales professional and the client, there’s real value in building human relationships and partnerships.
The airline industry today could save as much as $35 Billion employing the use of pilotless planes. But according to Fortune “54% of passengers refuse to board a remote-controlled plane.”
I know I’m not alone about being frustrated when I call a company for help and find myself having to deal with an automated voice system. Very quickly I find myself yelling over and over and over “REPRESENTATIVE.”
Like this YouTube video guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvbtwIrMFY4
We will always opt for a real live human to work with us over a digital one.
That’s why there will always be a job for media sales professionals who are both knowledgeable and emotionally intelligent.