(By Laurie Kahn) Top or popular markets are lucky as they have a large labor pool to tap for open positions. It’s not the same in small markets where there is more competition to hire, especially in rural markets. I have worked in a market where the population is 30,000 and they have close to 3,000 job openings, that is a difficult market to staff. To add to the challenge, many radio stations have a high amount of Boomers scheduled to retire over the next 10 years.
While the goal is always to staff open positions as quickly as possible, in a market where it creates a huge challenge there are other options. We are seeing more industries going to a team approach in their sales departments. This is a great way to play to employees strengths, to better recruit, and to move people up more quickly. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, but in each scenario your top sellers are more productive as much of the inside work is taken up by others, allowing them to focus on meeting with clients and closing business.
One approach is to hire an up-and-comer either as an intern or an associate working with one of two of your higher producers. This person can handle the research for proposals, deal with promotions for events, can input orders and traffic instructions, and really take on a lot of the work while learning the sales process. This is a great way to train, while allowing the senior producers to increase their revenue to the station.
Another concept is to hire a stay-at-home parent, or recently retired professional, to help open doors with new business prospects. Let them do the cold calling to get an appointment with a prospect your talented seller will go to meet. Pay them an hourly fee and include an incentive for each appointment, and then again when an appointment turns into an order.
Another concept is to incorporate an entire team concept, very similar to how networks have been sold for decades. One person gets the appointment, and then the senior seller handles the needs analysis for the team. Someone else puts together the presentation, making sure all partnerships and products have been considered and included when appropriate. The seller takes the presentation out and closes it. Someone at the station inputs the order, handles the day-to-day needs, and oversees any promotional aspects. This assures the client that when there is turnover, others at the station have their back. It is also a great way to grow your team organically. All on the team can earn a salary and receive a share of the commissions.
With all of the products many of our radio sellers are now representing, some companies are moving to “silo” selling. By assigning category-specific sellers, it allows them to stay on top of a few industries and become experts in offering solutions to those clients.
If you are staying up at night losing sleep because you can’t find new sellers, don’t despair as there are solutions.
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.