Four Common Traits That Equal Sales Success

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(By Rick Fink) Advertising can’t make a bad business a good business. If you don’t already get repeat and referral business, you need to fix the inside of your business before spending money on advertising.

If media reps can fit these two statements into their initial sales calls with potential clients, it can have a profound impact on their success. Why are these statements so powerful?

Two reasons. 1) It’s absolutely true, and business owners like hearing the truth. They’ve heard all the BS and will appreciate your honesty. Good advertising can’t help a poorly run business. 2) It sets the tone for your relationship with the client. You are telling them that not everyone is ready to invest in advertising, and if they are not, they should wait. I can assure you these are not typical words they hear from most media sales reps. It gives you a level of trust you most likely didn’t have at the outset of your meeting.

I relate this to radio station operations: if something is wrong on the inside, fix it before making any major moves. So what does the title “Four Common Traits” have to do with this? I’ve found that nearly all station groups that dominate their market over an extended period have four things in common.

1. They truly care about the success of their advertisers. Clients come first, everything else is secondary. That doesn’t mean the employees and listeners are a distant second or third, because they should not be.

Train your employees, sell them on the fact that if you take care of your clients/advertisers (the ones that provide the salaries and pay the bills), everything else will take care of itself. Employees and listeners, in my opinion, are just a tiny fraction, .001, behind clients. If, and only if, the employees understand this will it work!

2. They focus on long-term business (because it’s what makes advertising successful). This isn’t to say you shouldn’t offer packages or short- and medium-term schedules. There is absolutely a place for all levels of contracts and presentations, but successful stations focus on long-term annual contracts. They don’t just “sell advertising,” they offer solid creative advertising ideas and honest solutions to help grow their client’s business. This takes time. We need to teach reps how to create strategies and better ads and campaigns, and how to present effective long-term contracts.

3. The most successful radio operations have a tenured team that includes everyone — sales, on-air, support, and management. Especially in sales, patience is a virtue! It takes time to become a good advertising rep. Giving new reps three to six months to make it is a death sentence nearly every time.

But the most important and common trait that I see in successfully run radio stations is…

4. Training and continued learning. It is the only way to succeed, and it creates a culture that makes people proud of what they do, that makes them want to stay with the company (tenure), especially when they do it better than their competition. This doesn’t apply to radio operations only, it applies to every business in every category. It starts with a good onboard training program. Do they know what to say and how to say it before making their first call? Do they understand the language? After a good solid start, the next step is to continue to train your people to get better, to motivate them to do more and have pride in what they do.

Based on the fact that you are reading this article, which means you take time out of your busy day to learn and grow, I would bet you have figured out the common denominator to success. It’s continued, relentless, never-take-your-foot-off-the pedal, get-betterevery- day learning and training!

Don’t take the stance that “Well, they should have enough initiative to learn on their own,” or “If we train them, they are just going to leave.” Henry Ford said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” Having a team of untrained, uneducated salespeople with low confidence on your team is not the path to success, nor is it good for our industry.

Rick Fink is the president of ENS Media U.S.A., a radio sales consulting firm specializing in helping stations to increase their local-direct revenues. You can reach Rick at [email protected].

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