We cannot spend enough time discussing ways to improve our prospecting for new sports radio business. We all realize how much tougher it is right now. My hope is to inspire you to go out with a new enthusiasm for more business from your current clients and new business from clients you do not know yet. The CEO of Sapper Consulting Jeff Winters recently wrote a piece in the Harvard Business Review about B2B selling during a pandemic. He makes some great points about prospecting.
But first, let us set a plan on how we can gain new business the last 6 weeks of 2020.
We have 3 weeks of sales activity to generate new business for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and end of year New Year’s sales. If you put a plan together by 10/19, you would have 15 business days to prospect, present, close and execute on new business by 11/6. You will need some lead time to get those avails reserved between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Tell prospects what you are doing.
You are looking for clients who want to impact their bottom line the last 6 weeks of the year. You will need to present to as many clients as possible to get this done. That means more time prospecting. As Winters points out, nobody has sold in a pandemic before, sales are remote, not in person, so give yourself some slack and room for trial and error. Be honest and tell prospects you are trying to end the year with a bang, and you want to know if they want to feel the same way. The NFL and your local college football team are in playoff/conference title chases and the bowl season will be in play. Your audience is looking for your sports conversation about the most important time of the year.
Playoffs, bowls, Christmas, and New Year’s! Oh my!
Give yourself a goal of activity for those first 2 weeks. Say 2 prospecting activities and 2 new presenting opportunities a day for 2 weeks. The moment a prospect wants to see the proposal, do it asap. If they say yes to the proposal, book it and execute asap. Then, move on to the next one. Just leave 4 thirty-minute blocks a day open. Fill them with prospecting or presenting for the 6-week sale. You have a deadline of 11/6 and first in the boat will get the opportunity.
The most important part of the new business process is identifying qualified prospects. Winters has good advice. Think about which clients can buy NOW vs later. 50% of our advertisers are cutting back or eliminating advertising spending especially in travel, event promotion, bars, and restaurants. But if your prospect list is heavy on home services clients, technology, or e-commerce they are looking to advertise and expand.
And, if you are a S.T.P. seller, you better read this.
Plenty of AE’s rely on the power of their persuasion in person when it comes time to prospecting, presenting, servicing, schmoozing, and closing. It is how they maintain a relationship.
See The People sellers will need to up their remote prospecting game. They will need to continue to monitor clients/prospects social media posts, thank them with handwritten notes and offer unique gifts. And also increase email marketing, texting and social media posts in reply or original thought.
Winters also reminds us to consider our prospect’s customer’s financial health. If we understand how our prospects’ customers have been affected by the pandemic, we will know if they are a great prospect for the last 6 weeks of the year. In other words, if you are selling a promotion to the local minor league hockey team, who wasn’t letting in many fans for games, you may not get a sale by 12/31/20. You could wait on pitching that deal. But, if you were talking to a home office furnishings company, they may be ready to close out their 2020 inventory for Xmas gifts and 2021 home office set ups for white collar stay-at-home workers. Sports Radio reaches plenty of that demo and you need to load up on those prospects.
Winters also suggests we have end of year spot price discounts, flexible payment options or buy an on-air schedule and get a digital promo for free type offer. If our offer corresponds to the needs of the buyer, they will do it!
Winters reports it is what 69% of buyers want now.
We also need to show ROI. When we do our CNA make sure we know how much profit can be generated by selling x amount of home office systems for example. Also, if you are taking ad budget from a higher priced radio competitor, tv station or digital platform, tell them how much money they will be saving to move the same or more amount of goods in 6 weeks. The person who makes that decision may need to tell others involved the cold hard ROI facts.
We have time. Let’s sell the hell out of the last 6 weeks of the year!
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.