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(SALES MANAGEMENT) The Format You Sell Is Irrelevant


Years ago, I was trying to be super-impressive to an HR executive from a big broadcasting company I was working for. They had hired me and five others as AE trainees out of hundreds of applicants, and I was going through a very competitive training program. (Thank you, Bonneville!) I made some awkward comment like this: Im so glad I am working for _____ because its my favorite station to listen to!

She turned her perfect hair and icy HR stare to me and replied slowly, Really? What if I told you we were changing the format tomorrow? Because wed expect you to sell that with just as much passion and conviction. Ouch. Lesson learned. Because she was right. I wasnt hired because I was a P1 listener to the station (or in that case, pretending to be one it was Easy Listening). I was hired to represent the station to the business community.

It didnt take me long after that to learn there was another important part to this story. I wasnt actually hired to represent the station to the business community. I was hired to represent the listeners of the station and their economic will and power to the business community. Once I figured that out, it all snapped together. So let me save you a bunch of time. Or, if youve been doing this for a while, lets review some basics about what exactly we are doing out there every day, and why.

Its not about the formats. Imagine youre a sales rep for Conde Nast, the magazine publisher. You dont only sell Vanity Fair. You represent many different publications, each targeting a different socioeconomic group. Youre selling Vanity Fair as well as GQ, Golf Digest, Teen Vogue, Wired, Self, and more. Your cluster is no different. Understand each stations audience that you represent and what they are most likely to respond to. Yes, its easier if you have a personal connection to the station. Grow beyond that. Resist falling in love with just one station. It will only lead to heartbreak.

Bonus for sales managers: Buy copies of different magazines for your next sales meeting. Put the salespeople in teams of two. Give each team two different magazines. Have them create a paragraph describing the subscriber of each magazine and share it with the others. Have them demonstrate why they made the choices they made. Then have them do it again for each station they represent.

Focus on P1s: As I said above, you dont represent the stations to the business community you represent the stations listeners. The most important listeners to activate are the ones who listen longest, because they are most likely to hear (or see, via digital assets) the advertising message frequently. They are most likely to act on it. Aim your targeted creative message to that 20 percent of your listeners who provide 80 percent of the time spent listening. The rest are icing.

Every station has an audience, and every audience has value. No matter the size of the audience, the station has P1s who love it, listen, and care. Dont sell them short. Our nation is littered with stations that have become dumping grounds for no and low charges and bad promotions. That only makes a small station even smaller. Abuse those listeners, and eventually they will up and leave. Theres too much competition for the listener today to take any of them for granted. And most of that competition is outside of our industry. If they flee, the blame falls at our feet.

So are you an AE for a Sports station who isnt sure where the Super Bowl is being played this year? Or an AE for a Classic Rock station who doesnt know that Joni Mitchell wrote Woodstock? Thats OK. You dont get a pass from learning about the formats you represent, but you dont have to be an expert. (Except for that Super Bowl thing. Figure that out, even I know.)

You will be successful faster if you learn to represent the audiences with passion and conviction, focusing on the advertising categories that will resonate with them most and the economic power they have in your community.

Good selling.

Marijane Milton is international director of revenue innovation and training at MBMI. She worked at Entercom for 11 years as its vice president of training and development prior to joining MBMI. Reach her at

(12/18/2013 4:39:54 PM)
Ugly bitch looks like whore doll!

- LMFAO!!!

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