Roger Vestal tells Radio Ink he got into radio as a child. The 25-year vet is now working for Forever Communications where he oversees 4 stations. Here’s his story and why he was chosen as Radio Ink’s Sales Manager of The Week. Our Sales Manager of The Week Feature is sponsored by The Center For Sales Strategy
Radio Ink: Tell us how you got into radio
Roger Vestal: My radio journey began as a child as my father was a long-time morning host and sports announcer on our hometown station in West Tennessee. He worked tirelessly and truly was the voice of our community. In 1982, I took my first steps in my father’s footsteps by landing my first on-air shift as an afternoon talent at the age of 16. From there, I continued to grow in the programming department. First, I added music scheduling duties and eventually became a PD & OM. Early in my career, I realized the importance of learning more about the sales process. I began by helping sales reps develop ideas and would also join them on client presentations. My goal was to become a more complete employee, and this was the beginning of my career in sales.
Radio Ink: How did you know you’d be good at selling radio? When did it click?
Roger Vestal: To start, having a programming background has proven to be invaluable throughout my time as a GM/GSM. Product knowledge is key, and I felt that this gave me a major advantage in the sales realm. To be honest, I cannot point to a single moment in time when it clicked. However, I do remember early on the feeling we all had when a campaign came together, and the client got strong results. Our purpose is to help solve our client’s problems and when we do that, the feeling truly is something special. The excitement of the deal never diminishes. We have all had those moments, and that continues to be a driving force in my career.
Radio Ink: Why are you a successful leader of salespeople?
Roger Vestal: Throughout my career in radio, I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible leaders. I quickly identified certain traits that I found paramount to being a strong manager, and one of the most important traits to me is being supportive. Look, being a sales representative is undoubtedly a tough job. Our reps are in the trenches each day working to secure business and prospect new clients. In our building, we have a strong supportive dynamic, and my primary job is to be a resource for them by generating ideas plus helping them to prioritize and solve problems. Also, I feel that it’s mission critical to understand your sellers individually. Listen to them. Know what motivates them. Each of them has different strengths. Recognizing and utilizing those differences is what builds a great team.
Radio Ink: Tell us how you spot a great salesperson
Roger Vestal: Here at Forever Communications, we are always recruiting. If I were to offer any advice regarding finding qualified candidates, that would be to have an open mind. We have hired successful reps from many different categories of business. If we see some potential, we will bring that person in for an interview. Great salespeople, in all industries, are intently focused on providing top quality service to their customers and continuing to build relationships.
Radio Ink: How do you keep your team motivated?
Roger Vestal: First, we celebrate their victories! Even if this is on a smaller level, we must make sure they understand our genuine appreciation for their efforts. Yes, we have had many cookout parties in the conference room at the end of the month as well as celebratory posts in our company’s facebook group. Secondly, I make it a priority to involve our sales team in the process. Their input matters, and we want them to take ownership of their role. This only helps to further strengthen our team as well as our position as the leading advertising option in our market. Positive encouragement and recognition are extremely important.
Radio Ink: What are you doing to always be on the lookout for new sellers?
Roger Vestal: First, we must strive each day to make sure our group maintains a strong reputation in the market. We have a tremendous operation, and in our markets, Forever Communications is certainly a desirable place to work. As with every aspect of our business, relationships matter. In the past, local partners and clients have sent candidates our way. With that being said, we are always on the lookout for potential sellers. As stated earlier, I find it important to keep an open mind throughout the recruitment process. Your next sales superstar could come from any industry. No matter the setting, I always pick up on certain traits that I feel may make that person a strong candidate.
Radio Ink: How do you keep yourself sharp, up on all the trends, ahead of the competition?
Roger Vestal: Well, since the beginning of the pandemic, I think we’ve all attended more webinars than ever before. I try to read as much as possible. Also, I’m a big fan of podcasts, and of course, I stay plugged in with social media. There really aren’t many obstacles keeping you from learning more about your craft these days. As you know, there are numerous training and learning opportunities online. I’m always looking to identify content creators that present material that could be beneficial to our efforts.
Radio Ink: Over the past 18 months, what are you most proud of?
Roger Vestal: Of course, I cannot say enough about the response of our staff. In all departments, our Forever family displayed an unwavering, relentless work ethic that carried us through the most challenging times. I couldn’t be prouder! Aside from their efforts, I’m most proud of our work helping our clients navigate through the pandemic. The rules we were operating under were all thrown out the window. As with all media groups, we had to rethink everything. For me, this was our moment to be heroes for our clients. We worked with our clients on tailoring new messaging, crafting new promotional ideas and understanding their financial needs. By being there for our customers thru the tough times we have strengthened our bond with them.
Radio Ink: What advice, in this competitive environment, do you have for other sales managers across the country?
Roger Vestal: My most important piece of advice would be to listen to your sales staff. Your reps are the ones in the streets every day. They are the ones sitting across the table from clients developing solutions. Simply put, they know their client’s pain. Insight and feedback from your sales team are critical to strategy development. Don’t discount their ideas and concerns. Additionally, always be mindful of emerging revenue opportunities. Continue to learn, and in the end, nothing replaces effort and attitude.
Reach out to congratulate Roger for being Radio Ink’s Sales Manager of The Week by e-mail at [email protected]