“Cold calling and prospecting are techniques that should be left in the 1990s where they belong.”
How much do you prospect? If you’re a new rep, probably 80% of your time is spent looking for meetings. Even veterans have to invest 20% of their time in new initiatives and prospects. Without enough prospects who take appointments to buy, we will never hit our budgets.
Hubspot says 72% of companies who have under 50 closing appointments a month will not hit their goals. If the sales staff get as many as 51-100 asks, 85% will HIT their goals. So, how do we find prospects willing to take an appointment?
According to Seth Resler, we ask the wrong people to handle the processs. Resler has worked on-air, as a programmer and is currently a digital strategist with Jacobs Media. He helps radio stations design action plans to combine web, social, email, SEO, content, and lead generation. He also thinks we are going about prospecting all wrong. And, I agree. It is time for radio stations to invest in a Sales Marketing Director, not promotions.
Hire someone who knows where the money is, not the promotions or supplies closet. Consolidate wherever you have to in the station but hire a person who creates leads every month for new business, NTR, and target accounts already on the air. We can save sales jobs if we hire Sales Marketing Directors. Seth has some ideas on station organization, digital lead gen, and where we should be prospecting for clients and shared them with me recently.
JEFF CAVES: How should a radio rep in a mid-size market prospect for new business? In-person or phone cold calling seems to dominate.
SETH RESLER: Radio sales reps should not be prospecting for new business. In the radio industry, a Marketing Director is tasked with growing the audience. This is different from most other industries, where a Marketing Director is charged with attracting new customers. Marketing departments often generate leads to pass to the sales reps. In the radio industry, we don’t have marketing staff on the sales side of the building; instead, we ask our sales reps to be marketers. This is a mistake because sales and marketing require two completely different skillsets.
Radio stations should hire a Marketing Director for the sales team — a completely different position from the Marketing or Promotions Director on the programming side of the building — who is responsible for generating leads for the sales reps. The sales reps should follow up on these leads, not developing their own. Cold calling and prospecting are techniques that should be left in the 1990s where they belong.
JC: What are some examples of how reps can develop digital content to attract new clients?
SR: The Marketing Director should create digital content to attract clients, not the sales reps — though the sales reps can undoubtedly help out. Start by brainstorming a list of questions that sales reps consistently hear from clients, such as “How do I write a great radio commercial?” or “How do I figure out which dayparts are best for my business?” Create content to answer each of these questions. That content can take multiple forms — articles, videos, podcasts, webinars, etc. Don’t be afraid to recycle content by answering the same question in multiple formats.
JC: Where should that content be promoted to gain traction with ad buyers, small business owners, and even office managers who buy or decide who gets to sell advertising?
SR: Google. Radio station tends to devote a lot of their attention to social media and very little to search engine optimization. If you wanted to know how to write a great radio commercial, what’s the first website you would turn to? Probably Google. That’s where this content needs to be.
JC: What has been the success of station sales staff hosting webinars on radio advertising topics? How does it work?
SR: Webinars are a fantastic tool. Start by finding a question or series of questions that potential clients ask. For example, you could write a webinar on “What Advertisers Need to Know About Nielsen Ratings.” Create a slideshow presentation and set up the webinar presentation on software like Zoom Webinar, GoToWebinar, or WebEx.
But the most important part is to find a partner for the webinar. Good candidates are local chambers of commerce, business publications, economic development corporations, hospitality groups, or other industry trade organizations. A good partner is an organization that serves the same people — local business owners or local marketing directors — but does not compete with your radio station. You also want a partner who has a robust email database that they can use to promote the webinar.
The partner’s organization benefits from the radio station’s webinar content; it enables the partner to provide value to their members or constituents. The station gets value because the partner organization will promote the webinar, attracting attendees from businesses that the station might not reach on their own.
After the webinar, make sure you get the email addresses of everyone who attended. Do not give them to sales reps yet. These are not qualified leads; these are just people who attended a webinar. These people should be added to the sales email database (not the listener email database) and put subscribed to a lead nurturing email campaign.
“But wait! ” you exclaim, “What’s a lead nurturing campaign and who puts that together?” That’s why you need to hire a Marketing Director.
JC: What can reps do in content or webinar marketing if they do it independently of the stations’ assets? Some reps don’t feel welcome asking others to change how they spend their time working.
SR: The best thing sales reps can do is make the case to their GM and GSM that the station needs to hire somebody whose sole job is to generate leads for the sales team. If a sales rep has strong marketing skills — not all do — they can make the case that their role should be changed to focus solely on lead generation.
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.