Want To Climb The Ladder In Programming?

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(By Gary Berkowitz) I recently attended a webinar that featured New York real estate magnate and Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran. She was most impressive and discussed many things about the sales process that related to the radio sales-programming relationship. She had many great quotes, but this is the one that stood out most: “Sales is the bloodline of every business.” It is with that in mind that I share some solid strategies with my fellow programmers about your relationship with sales, and a few tips before you attend your next sales meeting.

Come with a “can-do” attitude. Most of the time, sales organizations are only looking for promotional ways to involve their clients, above and beyond a spot schedule. In many cases, they are not all that concerned with “what we tie them in with” as they are with “can we tie them in?” and how do we’ll do it. While VP of programming of Broadcast Partners, I attended a sales seminar and learned this expression that still reverberates in my mind: “Price objections melt in the presence of a hot idea.” If you can’t get the sales reps excited about an idea, chances are they will not be able to get their clients excited. Hey, we’re programmers. We know how to make things exciting, right?

Strong preparation puts you in control. They say a good lawyer always knows the answer before they ask the question. A good programmer enters the meeting knowing pretty much what they will be asking. Be prepared with options. As simple as they may seem to you, they may fill the sales need. I once attended a sales meeting and offered a drive-time weather sponsorship. Sales was delighted. For me (as PD), it was nothing special and so easy to execute. Bring more ideas than you could possibly use to the meeting.

Be a good listener. Many times, it will be easy to create a sponsorship for something you are already doing. Our typical day-to-day programming has a lot of moving parts. Listen to them carefully to hear what they need. Example: Recently, a station was planning a “Summer Kick-Off Weekend” for Memorial Day. The GM had a requested a special promotion for the holiday weekend. The client was added as the co-presenter and included in promos, and there were no alterations to what had already been planned. A happy GM and a happy sales group. This promotion easily did what Barbra Corcoran in her webinar referred to as “Serving the God of Profit.”

Let them know you are an ally. If you believe (as I do) that “sales is the bloodline of every business,” your sales department is very important. If they feel you respect them, they will respect you (and the product). You may not always give them exactly what they want, and you may not always get it your way, but it’s important for them to feel the “product people” are on their side.

In my last PD job, I decided to make the sales manager my close ally. We had similar personalities, so it was not that hard. Having him working with me vs. against me made a huge difference. To this day, even though neither of us is still at that station, we are the best of friends. We often discuss how much easier life became when we worked together (it also drove the GM crazy, as we thought he enjoyed the sales-programming tension).

Be proactive. Go to sales with opportunities. Don’t wait for them to tell you what they need. Go to them with ideas that they can take out and use to bring in some revenue.

It’s important to show the sales department love. Our job as programmers is tough. I think theirs may be tougher. It’s not easy selling anything these days. Let them know you know that and you’ll see a very different sales-programming relationship. Or, as Barbara Corcoran put it, “relationship through communication.”

Gary Berkowitz is president of Detroit-based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. Contact Gary at 248.737.3727 or [email protected]

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