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Laurie Kahn

Turnover Kills


Did you hear the one about the radio manager who hired a seasoned media sales rep and put him on the streets the first week? The new seller was told to go out and "make it happen" in the next 90 days. At that point, they would convert the new seller to 100 percent commission, with no additional guarantee. With his experience and contacts, he would be a great addition to the staff and should easily earn what he did in his past job.

The new seller was really excited. Radio was a new medium, and with all of his contacts and past clients, he could make this work! He was told that experienced media reps could make really good money in radio!

The sales manager gave the new seller a book about radio sales and showed him how to access the RAB site. "This should tell you how to convert your previous sales skills into big dollars in radio. Let me know if you need any more help" were the sales manager's parting words. 

So for the next few days, the new seller read the RAB site, read the book about radio, and tried to muddle his way through it.

But, never having sold radio, he had some questions. In his previous media sales jobs, the product was not quite as targeted as radio, and he wanted to be sure he understood the pitch before going out to call on his contacts. They trusted his expertise, knowledge, and solution-oriented suggestions, so it was important that he understood what he was now selling. He wanted to have a better handle on good targets for the different stations and formats he was now representing. He thought it would be helpful to hear some of the objections people at his new company experienced, so he could be prepared. He went to the sales manager and asked if he could go out on some calls with some of the senior sellers on the staff.

"Ask Sue or John if you can tag along with them on any calls they have scheduled this week. That ought to be a big help," replied the manager. Off went our new seller to ask these reps if they minded him tagging along. Sue was open, although all of her calls that week were relationship-building and no new business would be discussed, so probably not a good idea. John agreed to take him on a new-business pitch.

During the presentation to John's client, the new seller heard about an upcoming station event the client should consider sponsoring. While driving home, the new seller remarked, "That sponsorship was a really great idea. I didn't know we had that event planned and that we could sell sponsorships. I'll bet Lancaster Ford would love this-- I'll call them when we get back!"  John slammed on the brakes and replied, "Look, that is my account. You don't call on them! I have been working them for three years and I also think this would be great for them, and I think I may get an order now."

You can imagine how our new seller felt! Upon return to the station, he went in to talk to the sales manager to ask if he could call on the account. He had a great relationship with them and consistently got business. If John hadn't gotten anywhere in three years, maybe he could try? No such luck. The sales manager wouldn't move any accounts away from the sales reps that had been there, even if they weren't getting any business. It was up to the new seller to go and develop all new business. He couldn't go after any of his past contacts or clients.

After 30 days, it became evident that there was no way, without any leads, and without the ability to call on any established business, that the new seller would be able to cover his guarantee in another 60 days. He seriously doubted his decision to leave his past job to join the radio station. Stress set in. He hadn't done 100 percent new business for 18 years. How would he pay his bills?

As his 90th day approached, the new seller had only brought in three new accounts. He got the news that his guarantee would not be extended and that he should probably think about finding another job. He wasn't cut out to sell radio. Luckily, the seller had already found another media job where he was given the ability to call on some of his old contacts and was given a base salary with commission.

The sales manager hired another future star and offered him a 90 day guarantee.

Does this story sound familiar? Unfortunately, we hear it way too often.

Laurie Kahn is Founder and President of Media Staffing Network and can be reached at 480-306-8930 or via e-mail at Visit the Media Staffing Website

Read more articles from Laurie HERE