Tag Archives: Relationships

Are Sales People About to Become Extinct?

115A 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.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.

Dunning and Kruger postulated that for a given skill, those who are incompetent will:

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.

Digital Truths

In the current generation of digital media, we know that two things are true:

  1. No one is looking for more ads
  2. 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.

Human Relationships

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.”

Representative

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.

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What Are They Thinking (about Radio)?

93My Capstone Class students read several books on management during the semester. Some are on personal management, self-improvement type books if you will, because how can you manage others until you can first manage yourself.

One of the books we read is Barry Drake’s “40 Years and 40,000 Sales Calls – Thoughts on Radio and Advertising based on a Lifetime of Customer Contact.” I highly recommend this book as a MUST READ for anyone considering a career in broadcasting or is currently working in broadcasting or is curious about what such a career is like.

When we finished the book and our discussion of the book, we did a Skype session with the author, Barry Drake.

AMAZON Synopsis

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Barry’s book, I will share with you the Amazon synopsis:

“Barry Drake retraces the steps of his forty year broadcasting career to delight readers by telling stories and bringing to light things that have changed and so many things that have not.
Growing up in a media household, Drake saw the birth of television and the impact of local radio personalities. He picked up knowledge of business working in fast food and retail.
In radio, Drake began in the day of AM domination and participated in the rise of FM. Later he went on to head companies in radio and television.
40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls is loaded with Drake’s opinions on the current state of the media, radio in particular and what advertisers want. What makes this book unique is that the opinions all come from direct contact with advertisers. There is no B-school philosophy. Just real world knowledge obtained over forty years of real world work.

One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the book’s sales go to the Broadcasters Foundation of America to assist broadcasters who are in acute need. The Foundation does not endorse or subscribe to the views expressed in the book.”

So What Questions Float in Student Minds After Reading this Book?

You might be amazed as what goes through my student’s brains.  Let me share with you some of their questions:

  • How do the RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) sales modules for the RMP exam compare to his own personal selling strategy?
  • Where does he think he’d be if he didn’t grow up in a radio heavy household (both Barry’s dad & mom worked in radio)
  • Barry said he fell in love with radio when he saw “the magical relationship between the radio station, the radio performer and the listener.” Now that we’ve entered the age of digital and voice tracking, is that relationship still magical in your opinion?
  • When you are selling to a customer what is the most important step in building a relationship with your customers?
  • How do you think broadcasting and broadcast sales will change in the next 10-20 years? Where do you think the radio industry is going?
  • Do you have any regrets in choosing a broadcasting career?
  • Do you see local radio becoming more popular than syndicated radio?
  • Did you ever want to switch careers?
  • What defines a leader?

I think you can see from just a sample of the questions my students had, we covered a lot of ground in that class session with Barry.

Barry Drake’s Wisdom

Barry says the biggest issue going forward will be competition for people’s time. Time will be at a premium in a world with unlimited media choices.

To be successful you will need faith. Faith in yourself, in your career and that everything will work out just fine if you dedicate yourself to your work with everything you’ve got.

You become what you think about, so focus your thinking on where you want to go.

Radio is “show” plus “business.” The business needs new ideas and innovation and that will soon be in the hands of graduating students.

Building Relationships

Barry said there are three things to building advertising relationships with radio station clients:

  1. Show that you care
  2. Bring lots of ideas
  3. Respect the value of people’s time

Leadership

A leader is anyone other people will follow.

A leader must have integrity.

A leader must do what’s right and what’s best for the enterprise, even though they realize not everyone will be happy with some of the decisions that have to be made.

A leader must earn their people’s respect every minute of every day.

Be aware of everything going on all around all of the time. Read all the trades, read the latest news about business and anything else that will impact your business and that of your radio station’s advertisers.

3 Things You Need to Be Successful

  1. Role Models are critical (Pick one for yourself, someone you can emulate)
  2. Find a Mentor (Have at least one. More is better.)
  3. You’ve got to have a horse to ride (In other words, you have to have an opportunity to apply your skills. Join a company you believe in, that has people you like working with and a mission you are ready to commit to.)

And in case you were wondering about that one student’s question about whether Barry ever thought about switching careers, the answer was:

“NO! Never once.

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How to Win in the Game of Life

Me in Las Vegas April 2014Wisdom is wonderful thing. Unfortunately, most of us don’t acquire wisdom until we’ve put a few years on the calendar. Let me share some of the wisdom I’ve acquired, much of it from the school of hard knocks. I think I’ve earned my Ph.D. at that school.

Don’t Confuse Education with Intelligence

A colleague of mine, Kelley Coppinger a professional-in-residence in our university’s AD/PR department said that. I knew it was golden as soon as she uttered those words.

Two Kinds of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence: how smart you are or IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and how emotionally tuned in you are to people or EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

Most colleges focus all of their energies on IQ but more forward institutions of higher education are recognizing the latter, for it is the one that matters most in the game of life.

Have a Plan

Everything is won or lost in the preparation stage. What’s your plan? You have to have one. You have to believe in it. You have to write it down and you have to follow it religiously.

Without a plan, you’re like a person driving a car without a destination. Any road will take you there.

If you don’t have a plan, then others will plan your life for you.

The Fundamentals

As a hiring manager, I hired for attitude and then looked to be sure the person was also trainable.

You have to acquire the basic skills and knowledge of your trade in order to effectively and efficiently complete the tasks that will lead to successful fulfillment of your plan.

It’s easier to win at the game of life when you already know what you need to do.

Goals

Zig Ziglar always used to say “You’ve got to have goals.” Goals keep you focused.

Focus on the now. Focus on the moment you’re living in, don’t worry about the past or the future. Worry about present moment.

Write your goals down and put them where you will constantly see them. They are your action steps, with target dates of completion.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline” wrote Napoleon Hill in his book “Laws of Success.”

Attitude

Everything starts with having the proper attitude. Attitude is a choice. Choose wisely.

Life is not a straight line. Everyone’s path is guaranteed to be filled with twists, turns and pot holes.

Life is a game of adjustments.

When something unexpected occurs, make adjustments to stay on goal.

Success in life is not about what happens to you, but how you deal with what happens to you.

Show Others Why They Should Care

When you engage the people around you, when you involve them in the goal, they change. When the people around you change, they change the people around them. Roadblocks get torn down, problems get solved, good things happen.

I have a picture in my office at the university that I’ve hung in every office of every media organization I’ve managed. The picture has the caption that says if you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Winning is a Goal

Soldiers on the battlefield fight to win. Players on a sports team play to win. Programmers of radio stations play to win. Sales people play to win.

Make it your goal to win in everything you decide to do.

Win Together

Winning is a team sport. Make sure everyone is committed to each other’s success if you’re in management. Make sure everyone is focused on the same goals by having them written down.

Make sure you have buy-in on the goals.

Clearly define the goals, confirm everyone is in agreement and on the same page. Then have everyone commit.

Celebrate Your Success

As you travel toward each of your goals, be sure to celebrate every success along the way. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Make your journey joyful. Make others joyful too. Share the love.

Be dependable. Be consistent. Don’t get distracted. Stay on your plan. Have FUN.

Be Coachable

Even the best in any profession know that having a coach is important. Encourage feedback on your work from those you look up to. Recruit a mentor or two or three to be part of your personal improvement team. Offer to mentor others. We learn so much when we help another person in the game of life.

It’s Often Who You Know

I don’t care what line of work you’re in, life is a relationship business. Successful people quickly learn the importance of building relationships and support networks.

The best time to build a new relationship is when there is nothing more on the table than making a new friend, learning about another person’s goals and life experiences, and enjoying the present moment of their company.

Life is Reciprocal

If you do your very best at everything you tackle and if you care about other people, life will return to you all of the same.

The Bible says as you sow, so shall you reap.

Newton’s 3rd Law says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And Zig Ziglar says:

“You can get anything in life you want,

if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

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The End of Mass Media

84Jack Nicholson famously said in the movie A Few Good Men “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

I think he was right.

We can’t.

We say we can. We want to believe we can. But the reality is the truth is scary.

The Future of Mass Media

The reality is the future of our business – mass media – is that it won’t be all that “mass” anymore.

The future will be a media that is built around relevance and quality of message, not volume.

And that’s scary.

Not to just us broadcasters but to the ratings service known as Nielsen. We aren’t going to need to know the volume (aka cume) or AQH (average quarter hour) numbers in the future. The real value that we will deliver will be based on how relevant we are to our listeners and what value we deliver.

The King is Dead

Remember when the catch phrase of the day was “Content is King”?  Bill Gates famously said that.

There were others that felt that distribution was king.

Turns out the “king” is dead for both of these theories and the new king is relationships. And relationships are based on mutual interests and relevancy.

Facebook

What’s the power of Facebook?  Relationships.

Oh sure it uses complex algorithms to manage our relationships, but we are not smitten with algorithms we are drawn to relationships and we friend or unfriend based on the relevance of those relationships too.

Google gets it too.

Each of us is an individual and these social media companies go to great lengths to treat us in just that way.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Commercial radio broadcasting still strives to deliver the “one size fits all” solution. Those days are over.

Radio needs to build, as Seth Godin might say, tribes. People who believe what we believe.

Simon Sinek says that people aren’t attracted to what you do but why you do it.

What’s your WHY?

If there are enough people in your coverage area that will make you a meaningful size tribe of listeners, then do it. If not, find something else that is meaningful.

But trying to be all things to all people – the concept of “mass media” – those days are over.

Advertising

The 800 pound elephant in the room is how to pay for it. Ad supported media is being challenged by the internet in ways that Netflix, Amazon, Google and others that grew up on a different metric are not.

Today supply far outweighs demand in the advertising world.

Even those special live television events that were growing in audience every year are now seeing they’ve peaked. Nothing goes up forever.

The future is creating something relevant to the people you develop a relationship with. The value will be in how strong those relationships are not necessarily how big, in terms of numbers of people, they are.

The future for all media I suspect will start to look more like that of public radio or Christian radio. Each of these mediums has established strong relationships with their listener. They also don’t abuse those relationships with underwriting announcements that either doesn’t fit their audience or by unbalancing the content to underwriting ratio.

Commercial broadcasters seem to take the view that adding one more spot to the hour; the cluster etc won’t affect their audience. They would be wrong. It does.

Keeping things in balance and running seamlessly will be critical to broadcasters whether they’re being consumed over-the-air on AM or FM, or over the internet.

Sales people in this new world will be business evangelists that seek out business owners with innovative ideas and solutions to their problems. Businesses owners who benefit from these relationships with media sales folks will in turn reward the media enterprise with their support.

What’s your WHY?

But it all starts by first defining, as Simon Sinek says, your WHY.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

Answer that question, and you will have taken the first step.

 

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The Lesson of High School

41Everything you need to know to succeed in life you probably learned by the time you graduated high school. Do you remember your high school days? You probably couldn’t wait to graduate and begin the next chapter of your life. We were all in such a hurry. Many of us were looking forward to going to college. College, we thought, would be what real life was like. It would be a world where real talent is what counts.

Meryl Streep once told an interviewer that she thought life would be like the life she lived in college. Only it wasn’t. “Life,” Streep said, “is like high school.” Life, it turns out, is a popularity contest. The competent and likeable person will soar in life whereas the intelligent but socially inept won’t.

Real Life Doesn’t Give Written Tests

Education revolves around the test. Tests produce grades. Grades are compiled into GPAs. GPAs are part of the process to measure a person’s intelligence quotient or IQ. Not to burst your bubble, but the world’s most successful people are those that often finish in the bottom half of their class but were probably the best known and best loved.

What’s Your EI?

This begs the question, why don’t we measure what’s important? Or better yet, why don’t we teach it? Marc Brackett, a senior research scientist in psychology at Yale says “we know from doing dozens of studies, that emotions can either enhance or hinder a person’s ability to learn.” Emotions impact our memory, our attention and our ability to focus. EI is Emotional Intelligence. EI is something we talk about in my broadcast sales class. Great media sales people score high in emotional intelligence skills.

We Are Controlled By Our Emotions

Whether you are in sales, a television/radio performer or running for political office, just like in high school, you will be judged by if people like you or feel good about you. The world works not by logic and reason, but on emotions and feelings. Radio and television are a people business. It is all based on relationships. Relations are all about feelings.

Academics & Success

Our educational system is built upon the premise that if a student achieves academically they will be employed, healthy and everything else in their lives will be a bowl of cherries. The reality is something quite different. Turns out academic success predicts very little about the future outcome in these metrics.

Talent Assessments

Can emotional intelligence be taught or do we all start out emotionally intelligent and have it beaten out of us by our home life, our friends – or most likely – the educational system? In my broadcast sales class, I have my students take a talent assessment. These tests give insight into how a person is wired. Unlike most tests students take, there is no pass or fail. The results give insight into a person’s emotional intelligence and make-up. These tests were developed from the research of people like Sigmund Freud. They came into widespread use during the Second World War. The goal was to quickly place people into jobs that they would naturally excel at doing. After the war ended, many companies continued to use these tests when hiring. They are another tool in the tool box for evaluating a person.

Can An Old Dog Be Taught New Tricks?

What is not known is at what ages these emotional intelligence skills can be taught and if there comes a point when the cake is baked and can no longer be changed. Few studies in this area have been conducted. Plus the deck is stacked against this area of education by people who take the “that’s not the way we’ve always done it” approach to anything new and different. At this point, it would appear these “emotional habits” get baked into a person’s personality early in life and it is a mixture of home-social-school environments.

Life Is Like High School

So maybe Meryl Streep is right. Success in high school and life is basically a question of one’s personality. Zig Ziglar put it this way, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” In a world that is wired for reciprocity, going first and showing you care is always good when it comes to building relationships.

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