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Hiring Sellers Is Not Going To Get Easier!


By Laurie Kahn

I have been saying it for years and no one believed me. Well, the times are finally catching up and while at recent conferences for both TV and radio, the number one issue being shared by broadcasters in all market sizes is finding quality salespeople. I assure you, without drastic changes it will continue to be difficult to hire your future superstars, and not just in small markets.

A recent study released by Iowa City-based ACT, found that at least 60 percent of 2012 high school graduates who took its test, are at risk of not succeeding in college. For both ACT and SAT, findings reported critical reading and writing skills have declined.

Not all broadcasters require a college degree to sell radio, but keep in mind that many of those measured are high school graduates who do not have the skills to comprehend as well as those who have graduated in the past. We all know the old saying that "selling radio is for the C students," but that being said, any C-or-above student who has sales skills will be sought after by multiple companies across all industries as the race to hire increases.

What can broadcasters do to better attract, hire, and keep those potential superstars? Try the following:
-- Reach out to younger students to educate them on the positions
-- Mentor interested students from age 16-plus to intern for you so you can help advise them on pertinent coursework and other internships to help them in their sales career
-- Offer comprehensive training programs which will move them up and out on the streets quicker – they will get bored so keep them involved and active
-- Use all of your events to reach out by discussing great careers at your company
-- Recruit 24/7/52 in a proactive manner

And lastly, but most importantly, re-think your compensation plans. To compete to hire those potential superstars you will be competing with industries that offer base salaries, extensive training, quick growth potential, benefits, updated tools such as tablets, laptops, and often car leases. It is usually a fact that some of those other industries can top out much lower than a successful radio seller, but once someone is locked into their company, it can be harder to steal them away. In addition, it can be challenging to get someone who is used to being on a salary-plus, to jump over to 100 percent commission, as many are simply afraid to do so.

Think about your sales team. Is it better to have more bodies on the street or to have the right bodies? Maybe less is more if you have the right players. There are many ways to offer compensation packages that include comfort and drive.

Take the time now, especially during budgeting, to commit to improving your hires and to lower your turnover. It is time.

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.

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Our firm recently completed a research study of 1700+ media sales professionals, and more than half of the managers said the same thing you are saying. It's getting harder and harder for them to find quality salespeople! (

- Tony Florentino
(10/3/2012 11:49:41 AM)
It's always been hard, it's harder now because Radio has lost some of it's attraction to the new to the job market. It's ironic, there is fantastic testing now that is dead on accurate on predicting sales candidates success. There is a real chasm in the world between old school managers and the digitally savy candidates that are available. Some radio companies don't even provide training or a CRM platform....
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- dave presher

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