BRADENTON, Fla. — Some years ago there was a popular TV sitcom about funny doings at a radio station. It was called “WKRP in Cincinnati” and was created and written by a radio guy. So it had a pretty good handle on the internal goings on. The series pops up now and then on one of those old-show cable stations.
The characters included a grumpy general manager, a beleaguered program manager, a sexy receptionist, a nerdy news director, a couple of on-the-air personalities and a wacky salesman. I’d like to focus on the salesman. Not only was he way-off-the-wall, but he wore loud, mismatched clothing – shirt, tie, sports jacket and ill-fitting pants, and he didn’t seem to understand fully what was happening at his radio station.
Of course this was a wild exaggeration of what many of us recognize. However, the portrayal of the salesman intrigued me and continues because finding good radio salespeople today is a mighty challenge. Radio time sales, while not the most glamorous of jobs, can be and is quite rewarding. Even if an independently produced show, network or station demonstrates popularity, getting ad dollars still remains difficult. Why? Primarily because of the lack of good salespeople.
Now the follow-up “why” question. And the prime answer is – the fear of rejection!
Even the best salesperson with a top-notch product or service hears the word “No” far more often than “Yes.” In my personal experience, I was mentored by a salesman who went on to become a sales manager, then a general manager and then president of his own advertising agency. Going on sales calls with him I noted a few outstanding characteristics. He always was thoroughly prepared with the necessary facts and figures. He maintained a positive disposition to the point of even having a couple corny jokes ready. Knowing that it was rare to close a sale at the first meeting, he had some printed material to leave behind.
Where do you find such people? Sometimes within your own operation….an on-the-air person who will never become the next Sean Hannity. Or in businesses where you shop regularly and the salesperson offers suggestions of other items to buy. With the advent of the “big-box” stores where individual salesmanship is no longer a necessity, there still are places to find candidates. The air conditioning serviceman who came to my house made a heckuva pitch for an added device that would clean and keep clean my unit from mold. I bought. It occurred to me after he left that he would make a great radio time salesman. The clerk at the auto service center where I get my car’s oil change convincingly suggested some added features to elongate the life of my veteran vehicle. Another likely candidate.
The cited examples are individuals who are only salaried. Their motive is just to keep their jobs. But our industry has the long tradition of “Draw and Commission.” Draw – while they are learning the position and to keep them from starving during dry periods. And Commission – as the major incentive to earn more.
Anybody wanna buy a used mold-reducing air conditioner device cheap?
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.