(By Debora Parenti) As we head toward the end of the year, many are burning the midnight oil, poring over budget numbers on spreadsheets, and prepping for how those numbers are going to be made in the coming year. May I suggest that it might also be time to pull out that dog-eared list of thought starters and bullet-point reminders that have possibly been sitting on the shelf or filed away on laptops since your first day at the station? Ideas that can still serve to shake the cobwebs out of a numbers-numbed cerebrum? Ideas that can help reinforce some very basic but strategically sound habits that lead to sales success?
For even as the industry continues to evolve and grow, the saying that “what’s old is new again” still bears heeding, especially for those who hit the streets every day.
And it’s not just rookies who run up against the wall once in a while. The brightest, best, and most experienced reps have “brain dead” moments, too.
Over my years of creating and managing sales structures, as well as coaching sales teams, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of ideas and time-honored concepts. Here are a few I thought worth sharing that might help kick-start a day, a week, a month, or a year.
Even big stars falter sometimes. The best athletes stumble now and again. No one maintains a perfect score forever! In other words, you’re going to run into “dry spots” every so often, and you’re certainly going to encounter some hurdles. In every case, the important point is how you handle them — and most certainly, you must handle them. Sticking your head in the sand, avoiding uncomfortable or difficult situations, doesn’t make them go away. Seldom, if ever, do things get resolved of their own accord — and if they do, the results aren’t necessarily the desired ones because it’s likely that all control over the situation has been relinquished.
Don’t be a victim of circumstances — be a problem-solver and a risk-taker. Be proactive, not reactive. Here’s an example. You’ve called on everyone, and you have a ton of irons in the fire — you’re just waiting for them to get red hot.
Wrong. You’ve called on the obvious clients on your list (possibly a “comfort zone” of regular prospects) and you’re waiting for “call-backs.” There’s a good chance, however, that there’s a business on your list with whom you’ve made little or no contact because they are too small, too difficult, or too “something.” Don’t allow that to also become too much of a challenge. You sold your way into this position, the one reflected on your signature line and your business card. And how did you do that?
You did it by selling you! So now you have not only you, but along with you, some terrific platforms to market. Wow! The job just got easier.
Look at your client list. See which ones are in your current pipeline, which ones you last presented to, and review the objections and/or how those meeting were left. Tweak the old stuff — or throw it out and consider a new approach. Do some online research. Will spec copy or a digital ad design help? Bottom line? Think — and think with the client’s perspective in mind. Remember, to answer objections, you have to know the objections up front. If you didn’t get that information before, go for it now.
Whatever the challenge or situation, do something. Nothing happens until you do something. When you don’t know what to do, however, or are struggling with what to do next, here are a few simple yet solid suggestions for — you’ve got it — things to do!
Spending time or spinning wheels? Make sure you’re spending time with the right people. Joe may always have the coffee on and time to shoot the breeze, but is it “quality time” you’re spending or is it a “comfort zone”? Remember, time is money, so parcel out your time carefully.
Easy to say no. For some clients, the path of least resistance is finding the easiest person to whom to say no. If that’s you, you may lose out — not because someone else has a better product or price, but simply because the client dreads saying no to someone else. You can be likable but respectfully argue your position. Just make sure you’re getting ample consideration — even as you maintain a friendly demeanor.
Encourage clients to “think outside the box,” too. Maybe the client hasn’t used radio or your station, perhaps they’ve been using other media for the past million years, or maybe they continue to advertise the same thing, with the same copy, month in and month out. Bottom line, don’t be afraid to offer new or different ideas. Two things may happen: first, the client recognizes you really are interested in his business, and second, you open up a mutually beneficial dialogue with him or her.
Two to tango. As you go over event calendars (community and station), look for opportunities for clients to work together. This can help extend client budgets, form future marketing partnerships, and strengthen your own credibility as a marketing resource to the clients involved.
Speaking of radio… While we’re at it, don’t forget to continue to sell radio’s benefits. Don’t take for granted that they understand the medium, much less believe in its power. Some key ones (and there are many more) include its ability to cut through clutter, affordable frequency — and frequency sells — and product picch closest to the point of sale (e.g., in the car). As one great radio salesperson used to say, “An automobile is just a radio on four wheels!”
People love to buy. They don’t, however, like to be sold. Make sure you’re creating buying opportunities, not high-pressuring for sales. Put some fun in the buying process — but don’t forget to ask for the order!
Listen. It’s true. Clients will tell you what they need in order to become buyers, but you have to listen – and with both ears. Be earnest, ask questions, demonstrate sincerity, but in the end, listen to the answers.
Ideas sell. Tell clients about the radio station, but never pitch it as an entity. Instead, present ideas to them — a special schedule to promote their sale, a sponsorship for a particular program on the station. They may say no to some of your ideas, but you can always return with a new one. What you don’t want is to give them the chance to say no to your station.
With every new year comes hope and promise. May your 2019 find fulfillment in both. May you take time every day to pause and reflect, to find contentment in a day well spent, hold dear ones close, and never lose sight of life’s real priorities — family, friends, and the sheer joy that comes with using your talent to make a difference in this world. Do that, and you will not only find happiness, but chances are, you will also be a success at all levels in your life. Happy New Year!
Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. She can be reached at [email protected]