Inside The Mind of a Great Salesperson


On Thursday, September 22 at The Radio Show in Nashville, Radio Ink magazine will be introducing the industry to radio’s most successful Sales Managers, General Managers, Digital Sellers, and Account Executives. Thanks to the Radio Advertising Bureau, we are able to recognize these industry greats every year with awards named in honor of Wayne Cornils, who worked for the RAB for many years and was one of radio’s greatest ambassadors.

The Radio Wayne Awards are the only industry awards that recognize those people who are in the trenches, responsible for bringing in the revenue for the industry they love, all over the country. Up until the Radio Show begins we will be recognizing finalists from all of our categories so you can learn just how they became the best at what they do and how they represent the industry. One of this year’s finalists is CMG Tampa Account Executive Deb McLean

Her Market Manager Keith Lawless, who is also a Radio Wayne finalist, says “Deb is that radio veteran that every broadcaster wishes they had on their team. Deb will scream from the mountain top her love for this business and the power of this medium for advertisers. You will find no better person that will represent radio better as Street Fighter of The Year.”

Here is our interview with Deb McLean from CMG in Tampa

Radio Ink: Why did you choose radio as a career?
Debbie McLean:
My initial position after graduating college was with an Advertising Agency.   While there, I rose from Media Buyer to Account Supervisor and I became a strong believer in the power of radio through the successful promotions and experiences I had with my clients. I felt the combination of my agency experience and training in radio would allow me to make immediate impact for my clients once I made the switch to the media side. I have had a long and successful career because radio works!

Radio Ink: What attracted you to radio sales?
Debbie McLean: The opportunity to work with clients and have the ability to impact their success by providing my marketing expertise as well as utilizing the assets of a powerful mass medium. I love the creativity that radio provides whether it be through creating and executing a promotion, an event or producing an engaging commercial that takes full advantage of the theatre of the mind that radio provides.

Radio Ink: What are your goals for the future in radio?
Debbie McLean: My personal goals are to continue to learn and grow as our industry evolves. It’s not just terrestrial radio as in the past.   The content of our radio stations are consumed via multiple channels including stations apps and online. Our industry is strong and will continue to be as long as we continue to provide compelling news, information and entertainment.   In fact, Nielsen recently published their 2016 Q1 report and radio reaches far more people (240 million/month) than any other medium.   The report indicated that it’s the only analog medium to show growth year over year (+1% Time Spent Listening). Radio has a very long history of impacting lives with news, information and entertainment. Over the decades, other devices have been introduced to consumers but radio continues to penetrate more than 90% of all markets in the U.S. I want to continue to work with my clients utilizing this power, but integrating the power of digital as well. I feel that we are able to show the return on investment when radio advertising and promotions are integrated with digital. We now have the ability to analyze our client’s google analytics to show increases in our client’s website traffic during radio promotional periods to further demonstrate our medium’s strength and effectiveness.

Radio Ink: What is the key to being a successful Account Executive today?  
Debbie McLean: There are many facets to being a successful Account Executive today. I’ve listed my top 10:
1. First is developing trusting relationships with internal and external clients. It’s important to not only have sincere, trusting relationships outside of the office, but inside your station as well (programming and sales should be partners, not adversarial). Find a mentor and be a mentor in your company. I pride myself on helping guide others within my company and I’ve had many mentors in my career.

  1. Be THE Resource to Clients – be their marketing expert. Know your business and theirs.   Not just radio, but digital, research, marketing strategy, promotions and their competition.
  2. Have Depth of Contact – There is always a Decision Maker, but you can count on influencers as well.   You can often get that important nugget of information in the most unlikely of places.
  1. Effectively communicate your expectations (share, etc.) and negotiate with that in mind.
  2. Manage Your Business – Stay on top of your existing business during the entire sales process and especially before and never stop prospecting! I’ve had a lot of success through my personal network and referrals.
  3. Be organized – Develop systems and procedures so you can move quickly and efficiently.
  4. Make sure you’re always accessible and work harder than everyone else.
  5. Always over deliver (provide recaps even when not expected, keep an eye on your client’s competition, watch client schedules for proper rotation, etc.)
  6. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  7. Never stop learning!

Radio Ink: How are you doing selling digital?
Debbie McLean: 
Extremely well.   A little over three years ago I committed to learning digital and providing it as an integrated asset in our arsenal for solving client’s challenges. I have obtained certifications including Google AdWords, CMG Local Solutions Certification and became IAB certified in 2015. I am leading the charge as one of only two Account Managers that will bill over $1 million in 2016 (primarily new business) which I integrate effectively with radio, events and promotional strategy.

Radio Ink: What motivates you to walk into your radio station every day? 
Debbie McLean: The people, both internally and externally. I LOVE what I do. Our industry is still FUN. A little over six years ago our company conducted an internal survey to determine how happy and engaged our staff was with our company.   It showed that we could get better.   My Market Manager came to me and asked if I would be interested in creating some type of group to brainstorm ideas and activities.   This led to establishment of The FUN COMMITTEE. In addition to my “regular job”, I have been head of the Fun Committee since its inception and I am responsible for many activities and employee engagement including:
o          Fun Committee Monthly Newsletter.
o            #cmgpayitforward – Monthly highlight of an employee’s favorite charity.
o          Annual Summertime Bring Your Kid to Work Day.
o          CMG Annual Tailgate Party
o          Annual Trick or Treat on Radio Street – Employee kids trick or treat throughout (decorated) offices and enjoy a party following
o            Monthly Why Not Wednesday Breakfast All Staff Get Together
o          CMG Annual Beach Day
o          Staff Outings such as Day at the Rays or Evening with the Lightning
o            Community Service like: Days dedicated to Habitat for Humanity, concert benefits and toy and food drives
o          Annual Holiday Party

I’m very proud of what the Fun Committee has been able to accomplish. Our employee engagement numbers are GREAT and we have been honored as one of the Best Places to Work in Tampa Bay for the last 4 years!

I LOVE my job and our industry. My daughter is entering her Junior Year at University of Florida and she is studying marketing and very interested in what we do for our clients and the community. It’s a great career. Sure there is always pressure to exceed our budgets, but attitude and work ethic allows you to overcome some of the bumps in the road and there’s always a new opportunity just around the corner!

Radio Ink: What are your challenges?
Debbie McLean:
I think the biggest challenge I have today is priority management. As salespeople, we have more and more things to learn and sell and it’s growing exponentially every day. I work especially hard to stay personally relevant in the digital space – but the fact remains that every time you learn something, by the time you learn it, something new appears.   I try to keep up by committing to daily readings and staying on top of current trends.   Business decision makers are getting busier and busier and having less and less time to meet with marketers, so it’s more crucial than ever before to be that cutting edge resource for marketing and digital and a partner in the process, not just an advertising vendor.

Radio Ink: How do you educate yourself so you are always on top of your game?
Debbie McLean:
It’s crucial to never stop learning! I schedule time to read industry articles every morning from 7:30-8, partake in monthly Digital webinars and physically attend as many workshops/trainings as possible in that space. On the radio side, I am also participating in a co-mentoring program with one of our successful program directors to continue to learn more about the programming and event side of our industry and to help him better understand the sales side and our challenges.

Radio Ink: Give us an example of a success story you’ve had with a client over the past year
I targeted a piece of business last year in the Window and Door industry. I was persistent in reaching out to them as I knew we could impact their business with not only the strength and profile of two of our radio stations as well as our marketing, research and digital capabilities but also help them overcome some of the perception challenges they felt they had in the market. We agreed on my proposed marketing plan that included a comprehensive, customized research study, monthly radio schedules (some for branding, some promoting on-site sales events), studio naming rights as well as digital and sponsorship of our Hurricane Guides (highlighting their Hurricane Impact Windows) and seasonal promotions.

We had 400 completes on the customized research study and determined that their marketing’s creative approach was well received, but we had an opportunity to increase their brand’s current level of awareness and level of growth in the market through what the consumer identifies as strong value propositions and marrying those with the company name to separate them from their competitors.   We’ve used what we’ve learned to tailor our message to better target their consumers. It’s working! They have seen consistent growth of over 20% this year and we have won their confidence and handle 100% of their budget.

I also wanted to mention a large wireless provider client. Last year, we only handled Grand Openings for Radio and limited digital as it was available.   I was facing major attrition in 2016 due to a fewer number of new store openings, but through our ongoing in depth conversations, I was able to uncover they had additional needs and challenges. I saved the money (and will grow it) by providing a whole set of different digital solutions to target their potential consumers that we execute anywhere in the country such as In-app targeting: devices seen within buildings and then retargeting those devices throughout campaign; 100% mobile to conquest their competition and IP Targeting of large buildings in cities such as NYC to name just a few.   These solutions have increased this client’s billing but more importantly they are seeing results and we’re garnering more markets! They have become true partners.

Reach out to Deb and congratulate her on being a Radio Ink Radio Wayne Streetfighter finalist for 2016 – [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here