(By Laurie Kahn) Companies often ask us, “What will it take to hire a superstar?” There are lots of answers to that. Much depends on your market and what level of person you are looking to hire, but overall, expect to pay more than in the past.
If your company has a set policy on how much it will pay for a new hire, you may need to reexamine and update it. There is huge competition to hire talented sellers and managers from inside and outside the industry, and what was budgeted in the past may make it impossible to find the right person in today’s environment. This doesn’t just apply to radio, but to media and other industries. Simply put, those with sales skills and good contacts are valuable and will expect to be compensated accordingly. If your company will only pay top dollar for “experienced media sellers” versus other outside sellers, you may be missing the boat on many potential high billers.
We recently had a client who hired an experienced radio seller, from a respected company, and after six months had to let that person go due to lack of billing. On the other hand, we have clients who have hired sellers from outside industries, with no radio or media sales experience, who have done phenomenally well.
If you are having a hard time attracting and hiring the right person with your current compensation, here are some tips to help:
- Compare your job profile to what you are finding available in your market — can you lower the years of experience to fit what you can pay?
- Get to know what your market and industry are really paying. When you are interviewing or having conversations with other local sellers, both in and out of radio, probe what and how they are paid. Gain an understanding of what is salary, what is guaranteed, whether they’re paid on billing vs. collections, if they can earn bonuses, etc. This will give you a better understanding of what it will take to land your ideal prospects.
- Open your positions to include those who are in sales, but not necessarily media sales. These people can bring in a fresh approach and new contacts you may not have covered in the past. But get over the idea that they don’t deserve the same
kind of money that an experienced “radio seller” would be offered. In return for those skills and contacts, you should be making sure they are realistically able to earn the same income, with more upside, than they earn in their current position.
If someone understands sales and marketing, has good contacts, and is open to learning, they should be able to learn to sell radio.
- Consider adding an MBO plan: management by objectives. If you are offering a salary or a base, make sure that there are measurable activities besides billing to
be monitored. Basing payment for someone new only on billing can be difficult, as they’ll be in a training or onboarding period where they haven’t had the opportunity to fully build their account list.
Forget about offering anyone a plan where they convert to 100 percent commission after 90 days. It won’t work. They won’t work. You will be out the money. Do put together a plan that can be monitored and can help them the first year so they can focus on building revenue. Do regular checks to ensure they are meeting goals for activity, reports, and projections to show they are moving in the right direction. Again, I caution you: If you hire with a 90-day guarantee, not only will your recruiting be more difficult, you can expect more turnover. It will take a minimum of a one-year plan to be more competitive.
Laurie Kahn is the creator and founder of Media Staffing Network. She has worked with media companies since 1993 helping them hire top managers and sellers.