By Kathy Carr
Howie Carr Radio Network
It was a topic of discussion and no one had any real answers.
When I started in the business more than 30 years ago, the sales staff at WRKO in Boston included about 15 people, almost evenly split between men and women.
Some reps’ desks looked like a tornado had hit them. Others were perfectly neat in a OCD sort of way. But I learned something from all of my colleagues as we were a very competitive group.
Around two years ago, I met up with a former colleague for lunch. At one point, she asked me if I recalled winning a jewelry certificate as a prize. I had no recollection of it, but she did. It was nearly 20 years later and she was still thinking about it.
I realized then, for her it was more about her not winning it than me winning it. That was the culture back then. The company instilled a competitive spirit that made all of us work harder. We had three sales meetings a week. The managers would announce big recent sales and, well, if your name wasn’t mentioned, you knew where you stood. It was like the then-current movie Glengarry Glen Ross: “First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado….” You know the rest.
At those meetings, you could feel some basking in the glory and others worrying about… third prize. Glares would be exchanged across the table. These feelings will never be felt on a Zoom call. Back then, if you were one minute late to a meeting, you were pulled aside right after and it wasn’t pretty. How can you pull someone aside on a Zoom call?
We had a lot of fun, but it was a serious sales atmosphere. With so many people working from home, I fear that this environment of training, support, jealousy and rage may be gone forever.
How motivated are you really when you don’t know what your colleagues/competitors are doing? Those meetings with managers were inspirational and we had constant training.
They hung “Sales Person of The Month” right outside the sales office so you can see it as you walked in. If you are never going back to the office, how important is that? There were lessons I learned back then that are still with me today.
Number one: Selling is listening not talking.
Number two: When you are late, you’re letting the person know how important they are — NOT.
Number three: The money is out there, you just have to find it.
Number four: Work hard and have fun.
Team building, laughing and competition are a big part of growth and success. As an industry, we need to mentor younger people as they grow into their careers. We need to get them back to the station where face-to-face interaction can occur. They need to meet with their clients face to face too.
Radio is a career that found me by accident, but I feel very fortunate and treasure those long-ago days of walking by all those messy desks. I hope they return for the next generation of great sales people.
Kathy Carr is president of HCRN. It owns the Howie Carr Show and Grace Curley Show. Kathy also provides media consulting for some of her clients. She can be reached at Kathycarr@Howiecarrshow.com.