The New Way To Sell Radio
by Wayne Ens
The three worlds of the typical radio account executive have all changed dramatically;
1. New media have certainly changed the advertising landscape
2. Our traditional retail clients have come under enormous margin pressures from big box stores and online shopping
3. The sales strategies that got us where we are today are now our industry’s bench mark rather than our competitive edge.
For example, once upon a time, it was sufficient to focus on ‘the decision maker’ to succeed in radio sales. But in the new business world there are generally four key players in every major decision. This is in part because in a fast paced, more competitive, lower margin world each decision is more critical, and the best decision makers minimize their risk by seeking council or input from others.
It's also because most successful business owners today know the importance of achieving staff buy-in for their strategies and decisions. One of the keys to achieving staff buy-in , of course, is to let your staff play a role in the decision.
Basically most decisions now have four key influencers;
1.The Ultimate Buyer; Previously called ‘the decision maker’, this is the person who ultimately controls the purse strings and can release, or not release, the ad dollars to your station. Their primary concern is the economic impact on the organization.
2. The Implementer; This is the person who judges the impact of your station on their job. In the case of the car dealership, for example, very often it’s the sales manager who judges the impact of your advertising on his sales.
3. The Screener; Often the controller or accountant, who requests competitive bids or tenders to ensure cost efficiency or budget-fit of your proposal.
4.The Guru; This is the most under-used misunderstood influencer, and a key to understanding the buying motives of the other three decision influencers.
The best managers, and the up and comers, in any organization read books or blogs or attend courses that dramatically impact their opinions and choices. Their ‘guru’ may be another staffer, a supplier, a blogger or author. One of the many ways you can get to the hearts of your clients is to understand who their key influencers or mentors are; on staff, or otherwise. It can even be a mentor from another company or industry. But if each of the four players in your target organization follow a different blog or marketing guru, you need to uncover who that is, and what their words of wisdom are.
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(4/27/2011 7:05:47 PM) |
Mr. Jennings is spot on...actually the book Strategic Selling was written in the early 80's by Miller/Heiman and along with Mr. Marks and Jim Hopes, I was instrumental in bringing the concept to New City Communications which later became part of Cox Radio. The concept is but one step in a process that requires highly trained and prepared sales agents to execute this properly. Sadly I agree that Radio Sales has become more "transactional" then ever responding to RFP's rather then being proactive.
|- Paul Anovick|
(4/26/2011 8:34:45 AM) |
Ok. Really? If this is the new way to sell radio, then the industry is in worst shape than I ever imagined. When I worked with Steve Marks and the folk at CSS in the mid-90s, we focused on identifying the types of buyers and influencers in client decision-making. It's a solid way of approaching the business, but it's been largely sacrificed by our obsession with reacting to business as opposed to trying to get out in front of it.
As someone who has moved from General Sales Manager to Account Manager and back over the last 10 years of my radio career, I believe the most critical change in the business is that the overwhelming share of key accounts that are represented by ad agencies. For example, I was shocked to learn how many auto dealer sales managers have very little say in the media decisions theses days. The importance of "going deep" on accounts has not faded, but the unique skill set required to gain access to the kind of intelligence discussed here has become harder to find. I believe that sales people who are unskilled at this task or who lack the true intellectual curiosity to pursue the depth of contact and knowledge required can actually do more harm to the cause than good.
More than ever before, agencies today are forced to weigh the benefits of collaborating with media reps/managers versus building walls around their clients. One false move by a gun-ho sales manager or account manager, and a sequence of political drama can be unleashed that can disrupt the agency client/agency station relationship. I totally sign on to the importance of understanding the decision-making process (which is often a complex dance of conflicting interests and power).
My take is that this is not "the new way to sell radio", but rather a re-statement of an approach that is at least a decade old by now. Based on my observations and discussions with ad and marketing execs, very few radio sales managers and sellers are equipped to go that deep in a way that's tactful and productive for all parties. I hope that more selective hiring and a serious investment in training both sales people and managers will position the industry better to capitalize on “the new way to sell radio”.
|- Larry Jennings|
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