Tag Archives: Sales

Now That’s Selling

salesHere are three short stories for you to ponder.

Story #1

The other night a radio salesperson was in a restaurant. Business was a little slow, and so he struck up a conversation with the owner, who told him that she had used radio advertising for a restaurant she had owned back in California, and it didn’t work, and she didn’t intend to use radio ever again.

He told the owner that he and his wife had been in another restaurant in town a couple of days ago, and the service and food were both terrible. But, rather than never go to another restaurant again, he and his wife decided to try her place, where they found just the opposite. He suggested to her that just because radio didn’t work for her in one situation, there is no reason why she should conclude all radio advertising doesn’t work.

That radio sales person had a new client by the time they paid for their meal.

Story #2

Another radio salesperson was calling on a jewelry store. She had made several calls on the owner and was in the middle of a presentation when the owner suddenly asked her, “Have you ever bought anything from us?” She replied, “No, because you never asked me to.” She finished her radio advertising presentation. He signed up.

Story #3

Another radio sales person was calling on a car dealer who said, “I don’t like your radio station. I’ve never liked it and I don’t listen to it.” The radio salesperson responded, “I don’t care if you ever listen to us, for you see we have a lot of people who do listen and like my radio station, and right now your advertising isn’t reaching any of them. But we are telling them about your competitors.” The car dealer was a little taken aback, but proceeded to get serious, and is now on-the-air.

Be Confident

Sales is the transference of confidence.

In each of these short stories, each radio salesperson was confident about their radio station to deliver results. They were also prepared for such objections.

Preparation

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

There is no substitution for preparation.

As famed Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz put it,

“Everything is won or lost in the preparation stage.”

 

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DO YOU NEED TRAINED SALES PEOPLE?

1You know the answer is “YES,” but U.S. institutions of higher education don’t.
Read more in my column in the April 26, 2017 RADIO WORLD here.
 

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Just In Time Learning

66In a post I wrote about “Where You Should Be Recruiting Radio Talent” I mentioned a concept of “Just In Time Learning” that struck a chord with many readers. Commenter’s said they found the idea interesting and something they had never heard or thought of before. So I thought I’d expand on that thought with a little more detail and why it’s time has come.

Toyota’s Better Idea

Manufacturers used to stock everything they would need to build a product in warehouses. It was expensive and often wasteful. Then the idea of having parts shipped just-in-time to be assembled into a finished product was introduced.

Originally called “just-in-time production,” it builds on the approach created by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro Toyoda, and the engineer Taiichi Ohno. The principles underlying the TPS are embodied in The Toyota Way.

College Degree Credential Creep

Once upon a time, college was an optional final stage of learning in the United States. Today even a Starbucks barista probably has a college degree. So what’s causing this college degree credential creep? In many cases the reason is that employers feel that by requiring candidates to have a bachelor’s degree they will see a higher quality group of candidates. It has nothing to do with what job skills are actually required. It’s used mainly as a screening tool. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the workforce in America gets screened out when a B.A. degree requirement is inserted into the advertisement. Burning Glass researched how the demand for a bachelor’s degree is reshaping the workforce and you can read more about all of this here.

The 20th Century College Education

When the 20th Century began, America had about a thousand colleges and those colleges had less than 200,000 students enrolled in them. By mid-century the number of colleges exploded and colleges that once had about a thousand students expanded to universities with enrollments of tens of thousands of students.

Unfortunately our 20th Century higher education system simply wasn’t designed to deliver what’s needed in a 21st Century world.

Your Teacher, Your Doctor and Your Barber

In our high tech world, things can quickly scale. Productivity grows quickly. But a teacher still teaches at the same pace. Your doctor can only see patients at the same pace.  And your barber can only cut hair at the same pace as each of these professions did in the 20th Century.

When something can’t scale, the price to provide the service goes up.

In the case of higher education, this price problem has been compounded by states reducing funding to their colleges and universities, resulting in public colleges being funded more and more by student tuition and lots of fees. This has resulted in a trillion dollar student loan crisis in America.

Certifications vs. Degrees

For the radio industry, the answer may be professional certifications versus bachelor’s degrees. Students simply can’t afford to go to college for four to six years and come out with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt to take an entry level radio job that will pay them fifteen to eighteen thousand dollars a year. Even worse, most likely the job you’re most looking to fill – sales – a college grad won’t have received any course work in learning about. Broadcasting in college is focused on teaching all of the low demand jobs in radio and the classes in the high demand jobs are either non-existent or being eliminated.

The Radio Advertising Bureau offers professional certifications in selling starting with their Radio Marketing Professional (RMP) certification. Burning Glass says that jobs in fields with strong certification and licensure standards have avoided the problem of “upcredentially.” They write: “This suggests that developing certifications that better reflect industry needs, together with industry acceptance of these alternative credentials, could reduce pressure on job seekers to pursue a bachelor’s degree and ensure that middle-skill Americans continue to have opportunities for rewarding careers, while continuing to provide employers with access to the talent they need.”

Radio’s Recruitment Mission

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) need to spearhead the radio industry in creating bonafide certification programs for all job classifications that will be accepted by the radio industry as the equivalent (or better) than a bachelor’s degree. These programs need to be offered to high school aged students and recent high school graduates.

Certification programs can be designed to provide the kind of just-in-time learning needed for each radio position. When a person shows they’re ready to advance additional certification training can be taken to prepare them for the next higher position.

Done in this way, the training will be up-to-date, cutting edge instruction to insure the student is learning exactly the skills needed for the position they will be moving into.

Time for Radio to Think Different

The radio industry will need to attract new talent in order to stay viable and continue growing. Embracing a better form of training for the skills needed and making this a requirement versus a college bachelor’s degree is 21st Century thinking.

Many of these programs are already in place, but industry recognition and acceptance of them lags in comparison to requiring a college degree.

It’s time to think differently about how we find, train and grow the radio talent of tomorrow.

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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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Why I Fired My Top Salesperson

My students are always stunned when I tell them about the time I fired my top salesperson. “Why would you do that?” they always ask. Today, I’m going to share that story with you.

In today’s competitive world, top performers are usually cut a little slack. There’s nothing really wrong with that, unless it breaks a culture of honesty, fairness and trust.

If you’re in any kind of sales, you know that one of the ways management motivates and stimulates sales people are through the use of contests. Sales people are competitive folks and the best like to win. I know I do. In fact, I have a picture that has hung the wall of every office I’ve ever occupied. It says “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” Lead Dog

Well this latest sales contest was coming down to the wire and the sales people were running neck and neck. It was having every employee in the whole radio station wondering which one of the sales people would capture the top prize and finish first.

On the final day of the contest, just before the 5 o’clock bell rang signifying the end of the contest, my top sales person came running into my office with a contract that put him in first place. We all congratulated him on his win and went home to enjoy the weekend.

On Monday morning, my traffic and business department people came to me with that signed contract along with other signed contracts from that same client and it was quite apparent something was fishy. The signature turned in just before the bell on Friday was quite different than all the others.

I called my top sales person into my office along with my sales manager and we asked this person if the client had actually signed this contract. After some hemming and hawing, he said “NO.” He explained that the client was on a cruise and wouldn’t be back in the office until today and he was planning to go over there and get his approval for the advertising. He said that he knew the client would definitely agree to the advertising. I knew he would too. And that’s why it was so sad when I told him he was fired.

Enforcing a culture of honesty, fairness and trust is hard.

The only way you can maintain that culture is by understanding that you have to fire people no matter what their performance has been. You can’t build a great organization unless you commit to doing just that.

Unlike many other radio stations in my market, I had a waiting line of top sales people wanting to join my team. A great culture helps you attract the most talented people.

A half-dozen years later I was recruited back into this same market from the Midwest and had the task of launching a brand new radio format. I needed to hire people for every position.

The good news is that because of my reputation for honesty, fairness and trust, I attracted many in-market pros when I hung out the “Help Wanted” sign.

One of the people who came to see me and apply for a position on my new sales team was the top salesperson I had fired years ago. He was employed in sales at another radio station in the metro and was doing quite well. Most of the accounts he had on-the-air at his current station had already been assigned to sales people I had already hired. He didn’t care. He wanted to come back and work with me. We reviewed the past that led up to his termination and he swore he had learned his lesson and that it would never happen again. I believed him. It never did.

In his first 30-days, he sold over $100,000.00 in advertising. Most of it paid cash-in-advance. He once again was my top salesperson. I believe in second chances. I also believe in committing to the type of culture that wins with honesty, fairness and trust.

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It’s too soon…

DT WBEC (1970s)I knew from the time I was a little boy, I wanted to be on the radio. I built a radio station in my parent’s basement and broadcast to my neighborhood using AM & FM transmitters I bought at Radio Shack. Besides being on the radio, the other thing I wanted to do was drive a car.

I was fortunate that my opportunity to be on the radio happened in the 10th grade in high school and when my moment came, my only thought was “it’s too soon,” I need more practice, I’m not ready yet.

When I learned to drive a car and that day came when it was time for me to drive away by myself, I thought, “it’s too soon.” When I made the transition from radio disc jockey into radio sales and the day came for me to go out on my own and begin calling on businesses to sell radio advertising, that day came WAY too soon.

I was successful in radio sales and they made me sales manager. Too soon I thought, but sales manager led to station manager and then general manager of the AM side of an AM/FM combo. The general manager of the FM side of the operation was also part-owner so I always thought of myself as the “baby gm.” Then the day came when the majority owner of my radio station offered me the position of general manager in Atlantic City at another pair of radio stations he owned. Now I would have to make it on my own. No more baby gm, I would be the only gm. Too soon!

After 42-years in radio, thirty of which were as a market manager, I made a career change into higher education by becoming a professor at a university. I spent the summer preparing and planning every lesson in every class I would teach that fall. When the first day of classes arrived, my only thought was – you guessed it – too soon.

What’s interesting about everything I’ve share with you up to this point in time is that nothing was really life threatening. Even getting married and having our first child (too soon times two) was not life threatening. Having the second child – seemed too soon since we were just getting good a taking care of one baby – wasn’t life threatening.

Then I took flying lessons.

I found I was really enjoying my flying lessons. Those weekend lessons over South Jersey, along the beaches in the summertime were exhilarating. I was making great progress. Keeping the nose up, learning to trim the aircraft, scan the horizon for other planes in my proximity and learning how to land in the strong cross winds that came in off the ocean at 90-degrees to the only runway at Ocean City, New Jersey’s airport.

And then it happened. I had just landed the plane when my flight instructor hopped out and said, take her around again and slammed the door. Gulp!

I powered up the engine to full throttle and picked up airspeed down the runway and took off all by myself. All the while thinking, it’s too soon. I hope I can do this.

I’ve always heard that a student pilot’s best landing is their first one after their first solo flight. That was certainly the way it was for me. That single engine Piper landed ever so softly onto the tarmac and I taxied to the terminal building in a moment I will always remember. (The moments that I would almost not live to tell about would come much later in my brief flying career.)

The point of my story is that everything that happens to us, which will help us to take the next step forward in our careers, our business, our education and our life always seems to come too soon.

We will never really feel as prepared as we think we should be. Do it anyway.

Seth Godin puts it this way:

“There is a fundamental difference between being ready and being prepared.

You are more prepared than you realize. You probably aren’t ready, and you can’t be ready, not if you’re doing something worthwhile.

Because we always do our best work and take our turn before we’re ready.”

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Entertainment for nothing….

When radio was born, no one had a clue how to make money with it. The early radio station operators made radio sets. They knew if they wanted to sell radio sets, they had to provide something for those radio sets to pickup and for the people who owned those radio sets, something entertaining to listen to.

It was AT&T, that didn’t make radio sets, that was the first radio operator to try selling the first radio commercial over their radio station WEAF. AT&T was in the phone business and the selling of phone lines to carry network radio programming. It put on-the-air a radio station merely to understand the business better. Not wishing for it to be an expense, they went looking for a way to make their radio station pay for itself, if not make a profit.

Many ways of making money with radio stations were tried, but by the late 1920s, the selling of advertising reached the tipping point for this business model going forward. Radio had conditioned people to expect, that if they bought a piece of hardware – a radio set – the content would be provided for free; albeit supported by advertising.

When the Internet came along, people expected to buy the hardware – a computer, modem and connection to the World Wide Web – but they expected that the content would be free, and it was; again supported by advertising.

Newspapers and magazines grew up with no hardware to buy, just the content that was printed on paper. The subscription cost was relatively low and advertising would pick up the rest of the expense along with providing the owners a nice profit.

The problem today is newspapers and magazines have joined radio and television in the new distribution channel of the Net. Two of these mediums should be adept at marketing their content in this manner and the other two, well, are finding it challenging.

Cable TV’s HBOs and SHOs, on the other hand, charged for their content from the get-go. And when Netflix came along, it also created the pay-for-content habit which it easily converted from the mail to the Net. They also provided their content commercial free. This created an expectation that when you pay for content, you don’t have to have your content interrupted by ads.

The pay walls that have been tried by newspapers and magazines include advertising, but that’s only part of the problem. You see the print consumer was never really paying for the entire cost of printing and distribution. They merely made a contribution to that cost. The rest of the cost was picked up by the publisher, who gladly subsidized the whole thing because of the tremendous profits they realized via the sale of advertising. The other is a case of supply vs. demand. The supply of content has never been greater and the demand, so fragmented. This post is just one example of the free content anyone can get off of LinkedIn with a free account or via my blog (DickTaylorBlog.com).

The bucket of cold water reality is that marketers are more willing to pay to reach consumers with their message than consumers are willing to pay for content they want to consume.

So why are radio and television spinning their wheels while others (BuzzFeed, Vice Media, etc.) are walking away with the mother lode? To paraphrase the famous line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”: What we have here is a failure to innovate.

Radio and TV merely want to put their content on the Net and count the money. To compare it to sports, these two legacy mediums are good at baseball (over-the-air) and now when they move to the Net, where the game is football, they want to continue playing baseball.

In radio, FM finally came into its own when young broadcasters were given the chance to innovate. We are living during a communications revolution. Revolutions are periods of huge disruption to what was, as what will be gets created. The new opportunities are being seized by those not clinging to their old business models. The bad news is the “good old days” aren’t coming back. The good news is, what will replace them will be just as good, if not better.

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