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(DIGITAL) Hire A Digital-Only Sales Rep

6-14-2013

There is a great debate going on in radio sales: Should radio stations hire digital-only sales reps or train their existing broadcast reps to sell more digital advertising?

If you ask the local digital advertising research firm Borrell Associates, theyll tell you that you should absolutely hire a digital-only sales rep. Their research shows that stations with digital-only reps generate far more digital revenue than those without them.

Most radio sales managers believe that everyone on their team should be responsible for selling digital advertising. Having more reps selling digital advertising makes sense in theory, but when push comes to shove, its difficult to get reps to leave their comfort zone of radio sales.

I fall somewhere in between on this question. I believe at least one person needs to be held accountable for generating digital revenue at your station. They should be thinking about nothing other than how the station can make more money from digital advertising.

This person wouldnt just sell straight digital, but would also assume a business development and training function to support the rest of your sales team to sell more digital. Here are some of the responsibilities I envision for this new digital sales position at radio stations.

Digital Advertising Business Development

Every single proposal that leaves your station should be reviewed first to see if there is an opportunity to integrate a digital advertising opportunity. This would be one of the responsibilities of a digital-only sales person.

They would also be available to support your entire sales team to go on calls to help explain your stations digital advertising capabilities. The simple act of constantly looking for ways to integrate digital into your existing sales flow will instantly generate more digital revenue for your station.

Digital Sales Advocate and Trainer

Most radio reps are used to selling one product, a 30-second spot or variations derived from it. We are moving toward a local media landscape that now requires our reps to sell upwards of 30 different advertising products! Its a completely different sale.

There seems to be a new digital advertising opportunity cropping up every day. Your digital-only sales person would also be responsible for ongoing digital sales education and training for the rest of your reps. At least once a week, maybe even during your sales meeting, they should train your reps on either how to sell multiple advertising products together or the latest digital advertising capability currently offered by your station.

Selling Straight Digital Advertising 

Finally, your digital sales person would of course be responsible for selling digital advertising directly to their own prospects. By selling digital advertising only, they will open up your station to new categories of advertisers previously overlooked by your radio reps because they werent suited to radio advertising.

If you are seriously considering hiring for this position as I have described it, call it something like digital sales specialist or digital business development coordinator.   

As for compensation, the salary should be more than a traditional rep, so you dont have to worry about splitting commissions when they go on calls with the rest of your reps. Eliminating that obstacle wont leave your digital sales person feeling short changed and will encourage the rest of your sales team to take them on calls. Of course, they should get a commission on their own digital-only clients.

Stephen Warley is the founder of inboundarts.com, a research and training firm dedicated to helping radio broadcasters use digital tools to generate more qualified sales leads. He also founded LocalBroadcastSales.com in 2008. Have a question for Stephen?  Email him at stephen@inboundarts.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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