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Struggling to Hire New Sellers?


By Laurie Kahn

We are constantly hearing from stations in both small and large markets how much difficulty they are having with hiring quality sellers. To help us better understand their issues, we have been conducting numerous calls to companies both inside and outside of radio, across all market sizes, to find out if they too are experiencing issues.

Obviously in larger markets, there is a much bigger labor pool to reach out to to find more sellers, but in mid-size and small markets, that is not usually the case. They have to be more competitive and have to maintain a focused and ongoing campaign to uncover the sellers they wish to hire. There needs to be as much attention and pursuit afforded to the hiring of the right people as there is in researching and courting target accounts. In many cases, these potential sellers are not coming.

One of the biggest issues radio stations run into is how to hire someone who has come from an outside sales job, as they are often used to working with a compensation plan that includes a base salary plus incentives along with rich benefits. Here are some things to consider if you find your team needing to go outside of the box to hire some strong sellers:

-- After identifying top local talent who would be a fit, probe them on what is important to them so you can use those angles when pursuing them. It could be that they want more freedom, more creativity, to be more in charge of their own destiny, to travel less, or to earn more money.

-- Review your current sales team. Are they growing business? Are they open to change? Are they adequately able to cover all of the accounts on their list? Are they holding you hostage while not stepping out of their comfort zone? Ask yourself, what would happen if you replaced those who are not growing or who are afraid of change to bring in someone with the skills, contacts and drive; would that help you overachieve your goals? If so, wouldn't it be worth it to use current billing to help entice a new person?

-- To be attractive, you may need to alter your compensation structure. Most other industries do not pay on 100 percent commission. Consider lower commission rates with a base salary to be more competitive. If this is feasible, definitely include measureable objectives to be monitored and met to maintain the base. These do not all have to be tied into generated revenue but do need to be tied into items that will help them generate income, such as number of calls, number of presentations, upkeep of notes on clients, etc.

-- Think out of the box. What can you do without cash to motivate a new seller to come join your team? Are you relocating them to your market? If so, think about covering housing for a specified amount of time, or offering a set amount of trips for them to visit family until they get relocated. If you don't have an established training program, invest in one that they can participate in to get them ramped up sooner. Can you help with gas or auto expenses? If coming from an inside sales job, offer a clothing allowance to help make the move more palatable if they need to dress more professionally. Any other creative ideas? I would love to hear from you!

Even with this economy, in which jobs are few and far between, hiring a star seller is difficult as they will be in demand. It may be time to change the way you have paid sellers in the past. We all know how creative radio can be, this is your time to really prove it!

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

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