Radio salespeople ? and all media salespeople, for that matter ? are struggling now more than ever to secure quajlity appointments with prospects who might actually be ready, willing, and able to do business. The fact is that radio sellers are typically at their best when they?re in front of a prospect, finding out their needs and selling them solutions. The challenge is that most radio salespeople, after spending many frustrating hours cold calling, find themselves going on only one or two quality appointments a week, and that is just not enough. The current system of getting salespeople in front of really good-quality prospects is broken, and it must be fixed before even the most talented sellers will see better results.
Advertising sales needs a disruption.
For decades, the radio salesperson?s job was to find the prospects, secure the appointments, define the needs, solve the problems, and then sell the right solutions to get results. That is neither efficient nor effective. Expecting one person to be a Jack-of-all-trades and expert in all areas is a poor use of their time ? and can actually prevent these professionals from developing any real expertise.
Those who are especially good at finding needs and selling solutions are becoming increasingly discouraged as they spend endless hours banging the phone, hoping they will eventually score an appointment. And then in
the end they find themselves meeting with people who are not necessarily interested or ready to do business. Ask any salesperson and they will tell you how frustrating it is.
Where is the focus right now?
In most radio station sales departments there is intense focus placed on the end result: total billing. It is also common for sales managers to want to measure other things, such as the number of proposals generated, the total
amount pending, the closing ratio, and the size of the ask. It is easy to spot the common thread here: Managers are holding their salespeople highly accountable for sales output (this is good!).
While some managers may try to pay attention to their direct reports? weekly activity (which is a step in the right direction), they usually do that by simply measuring the number of appointments each sales rep has each week. Focusing on the raw number of appointments just causes that vicious cycle of frustration I talked about earlier. Forcing salespeople to spend more time cold calling means they will spend less time selling. That?s more time trying to find someone (anyone!) to meet with, which means less time spent finding needs and selling solutions. Stop and think about the cost of an appointment, if it takes an hour a day of cold calling, five days a week, to
secure one really good appointment (emphasis on ?really good?). It?s expensive in more ways than one.
What if there was a way to generate quality leads, and then hand them off to media sellers once they were sales-ready? What if you had the same sort of systems, process, and expectations in place for marketing and lead generation that you have for pending business and closing ratios? I can tell you from experience, it works! It could allow salespeople to go on six to 10 quality appointments per week rather than the one or two not-so-quality ones they are going on now. You?ve got to know how, though.
And inbound marketing is how. Radio stations know all about marketing ? you use it to attract listeners and users all the time. You also sell marketing solutions to businesses and help them use their capabilities to get fantastic
results. But radio stations often fail to use their marketing expertise to attract leads for their own sales departments. Inbound marketing fixes this problem.
Within the last year, a few pioneer media companies have begun to use inbound marketing, and, as you would suspect, the early results are very good. Their inbound marketing strategies are producing quality leads to hand off to salespeople and, at the same time, positioning their sales teams as thought leaders in their specific markets and areas of expertise.
It?s a paradigm shift, but it?s one that has to happen in order for sales and marketing to work together and both be held accountable for success. Installing and executing a lead-generation and thought-leadership strategy is important to the future success of media sales and will help improve the number of quality appointments media salespeople go on each week.
Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy.
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