Radio Ink: How did you get into radio and radio sales?
Marisa: I spent 10 years raising my three children, moving every few years for my husband’s career around the Northeast. I was introduced to the very successful kitchen tool company, The Pampered Chef during this time. Although I didn’t like to cook, I did love their products. I signed up to be a “Kitchen Consultant” and started my own successful business going to people’s homes, doing cooking demonstrations and selling lots of products! To my surprise, I was really good at selling and earned several “Incentive” trips for myself and my family at the time. When my daughter was old enough to go to school full time, I decided I would go back to work. This was 1999 and the age old question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” suddenly became relevant. This was all pre internet, so I found an ad in the local newspaper for a sales person at a local radio station near by. Since I was really good as selling kitchen tools, I thought I could sell radio too. Little did I know, I knew nothing about radio sales. I met with the Sales Manager who was a woman from the same town I was from, Italian heritage, we hit it off and she hired me. That was Roberts Radio at the time.
Of course I was thrilled. We started out the old fashioned way, here’s the Yellow Pages, start making calls, she took me out on sales meetings and I was quick to catch on. Within 6 months one of the other reps had left and I inherited a nice account list. During that year 2000, Clear Channel purchased Strauss Radio and Roberts Radio to form Clear Channel Radio of the Hudson Valley where I stayed until 2013 selling 10 stations and gaining larger accounts each year. I was one of the top billing sales people earning the Presidents Award in 2007. I was recruited by Radio Woodstock in 2013 by owner Gary Chetkoff.
Radio Woodstock is an Independently owned Radio Station located in Woodstock New York. They had a great brand but they had some issues with the sales department.
Since I was corporate, he thought I could bring my sales skills and corporate training to Radio Woodstock which I did.
Radio Ink: How did you know you’d be good at selling radio? When did it click?
Marisa: Early on within six months, I knew I would be good at selling radio when I took the approach that I didn’t need the money from a sale nor to reach a budget for the month. It was never about the paycheck for me at the time. I was making more money than I had before so that was good enough for me. I didn’t pressure my clients to buy, I was persistent, eventually they signed. My attitude was always how can I help my customer, not really about how can I help myself or my company. I found the auto industry early on too. I also figured out early, the more one client spent each month, the less clients I needed to meet my goals which translated into higher paychecks.
Radio Ink: Why are you a successful leader of salespeople?
Marisa: I like to train people to sell like they don’t need the money, it takes the desperation out of rushing the close. I’ve seen too many clients tell they tried radio and it didn’t work. Always a sales person who took their money on a sale to make their budget or whatever and the campaign didn’t show results. That makes radio look bad all the way around.
I always talk about how radio works, what’s the best way to get results for our clients no matter the clients budget. Of course selling multiple assets that make sense for our clients helps as well. I also give them lots of leeway to make their own decisions and choices. Commission sales people get paid when they sell. I don’t browbeat, hassle, dictate, command. I am a laid back Sales Manager, let them work and they will deliver. I am always available to help them, in person, on a call or text.
Radio Ink: Tell us how you spot a great salesperson
Marisa: I am looking for people who are passionate about Radio Woodstock, great outgoing personality, confident but not cocky, and not afraid.
Radio Ink: How do you keep your team motivated?
Marisa: Their paychecks motivate them, the thrill of the close is still very motivating. Having our clients getting results from our advertising ideas is also very motivating. Having our clients thank us for calling them.
Radio Ink: What are you doing to always be on the lookout for new sellers?
Marisa: I talk to a lot of people, people who may know people, I let people know I am looking for someone who fits the team. Most of the sales reps I currently have, have come to me through an email inquiry. They love the station, is there a fit somewhere? How do you not hire them?
Radio Ink: How do you keep yourself sharp, up on all the trends, ahead of the competition?
Marisa: I do a lot of webinars, reading up on latest advertising trends, digital of course. But we really do things the old fashioned way, hunt for clients that fit with Radio Woodstock’s audience and craft a plan and a message that fits for both. Shockingly it works!
Radio Ink: Over the past 18 months, what are you most proud of?
Marisa: We came out of 2020, one of our worst sales years ever, as I imagine for lots of folks out there. Very proud we reached our 2019 sales goal in 2021.
Radio Ink: What are your expectations for 2022?
Marisa: We have a pretty hefty goal for 2022, and with our larger business category dealing with shortages, we need to be more creative than ever to bring in categories of business that radio didn’t have in the past. Categories such as Real Estate, builders, architects, roofers, plumbers, electricians, home improvement stores, medical, spas, lawyers, organic grocery stores etc.
Radio Ink: What advice, in this competitive environment, do you have for other sales managers across the country?
Marisa: Craft a thoughtful budget for your team. Always be thinking about how your radio station relates to your listeners (a trusted source) and what businesses fit and how to be really creative with your commercials. Lots of brainstorming ideas.
Our listeners and advertisers tell us they love our radio station and commercials, they also purchase our merchandise line! Who does that? We do. That’s how we succeed. We are the only commercial radio station who is listener and local business supported.
It helps that Paul Rudd, People magazine’s sexiest man of the year is consistently wearing one of our T-shirts in his photos!!!
Congratulate Marissa on being chosen our Sales Manager of The Week by e-mail at [email protected]
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