Meet A Radio Ink Radio Wayne Finalist


The 30th annual Radio Ink Radio Wayne Awards will be held in Miami at the Radio Masters Sales Summit, September 22 and 23. Every day, up until the show, we’ll be highlighting one of our Radio Wayne finalists. Today, we feature Beasley Media General Sales Manager Marta DeLisi. Our awards are sponsored this year Quu.

Marta has been in the radio industry for 21 years and in sales for 16. She works at Beasley Media Group’s Wilmington DE cluster

Radio Ink: Why did you get into sales and then sales management?
Marta DeLisi:   I believe that life and the circumstances that you are faced with mold us into the people we become. I was born in Warsaw Poland during a very rocky time, politically. Just a few months after I was born, the communist party enforced Martial Law and a military junta in an attempt to counter political opposition, in particular the Solidarity Movement. Communism is what I knew during my early years, I saw people “breaking the law” simply to feed their families. I remember engaging in activity that was deemed as illegal by the communist party when my family smuggled pork into the city from a nearby village. We shared that pork with friends and relatives that were also struggling. It was a time of neighbors helping neighbors survive. I saw that and it molded my early and very impressionable years.

As a little girl, I dreamed of being a leader, someone whose voice is heard and used to influence positive change. My grandmother’s best friends lived in Canada and sent a boom box with a microphone for my birthday gift. That boom box is the first tangible item that gave me a voice and shaped my love for radio and leadership. I transformed the area under my desk into a radio studio and I sat under that desk for hours recording my “show” on tape. The topics were mostly songs, children stories, suggestions on how kids can get involved in their community and how kids can influence change. I loved that boom box and I developed a passion for radio.

My parents divorced in 1990 and my mom and I moved to America. The boom box unfortunately stayed in Poland but, from what I heard, it was passed on to another family in the neighborhood and hopefully continued to influence those kids to have a voice.

My first memory of the US is walking into a grocery store with the man who later became my stepdad and the shock of seeing colorful stocked shelves full of food, exotic fruit and sweets. That day I filled a produce bag with gummy worms and my stepdad gladly purchased it for me. I was truly on a different planet and I loved it! Looking back, I believe that is when I realized that anything is possible. I realized that I can be anyone I want to be, and what I wanted was to become a successful leader.

I started interning at a local radio station the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. My mother took me to Banana Republic and bought me a linen suit that I wore to the interview, they were very impressed with me and told me that I may be the first intern to come in with a demo tape, wearing a suit and showcasing references. I was accepted into their internship program and that was the launch of my radio career.

While during my early years, I continued to work towards being on-air, there was something about sales and promotions that began to shift my focus in that direction. Oddly enough, my first full time job out of college was at the station that I manage today. I was hired to be their Promotions Director. I was very successful at managing the promotions department and one of my early mentors recommended me for a Marketing Manager position for a cluster of radio stations in Illinois. I was young, curious and hungry so I jumped at the opportunity and off to Illinois I went.

After a few years in promotions, I decided to move back to my home town and I applied for an Account Executive position. I was hired and I was determined to become one of the greats. Every market has a handful of Account Executives who, through a combination of hard work, determination and a sprinkle of good luck, become legends. I set out to become a legend.

One day a few months into my rookie sales position, I was getting gas directly across the street from a car dealership that I never heard on-air. Although it was late in the day and I desperately wanted to go home and relax, I pushed myself to make one more stop in. I walked into the dealership and a gatekeeper took my card. I proceeded to check in for a few months. One morning while I sat at my desk, my phone rang and it was the General Manager of the dealership who apologized for not calling me back sooner. He asked if I could put together a proposal for $100,000 per month and include several other Radio properties in my cluster. That auto account ended up being the largest auto client at any cluster within my company nationwide and THAT was the beginning of my very successful career in sales which ultimately lead me into management.

After a few years and a lot more success selling advertising, I began receiving recruitment calls from the company I work for today. They offered me several sales positions before the perfect opportunity arose and I agreed to join their sales team. Within two or three years, I became the top billing AE at my company. I loved being a sales rep. I loved providing custom opportunities to my clients, opportunities that led to their businesses growing and thriving. I loved being a steady and reliable figure that worked hand in hand with agencies to deliver success to their clients and I loved coaching and mentoring young sales reps who reminded me so much of that young girl fueling her car across from the dealership and struggling to find the strength to make one more sales call, the one that ultimately put me on the path to a very successful sales career.

In late 2015, my company underwent many changes which led my stations to new ownership. Naturally I was nervous and after about 6 months with the new company, I decided that it was time for me to say goodbye to a wonderful decade. Once again, a mentor of mine asked me if I would come back to the station where I began my career, this time as General Sales Manager. In that moment, I thought of all of the obstacles that got me to this point in my life. I thought about my early years, I thought about making my family proud of me and I thought about how incredibly ready I was to influence, not only my career but, help the next generation of sales reps and businesses grow. I accepted the position, rolled up my sleeves and poured everything I had into making my new station a successful radio station.

It has been almost 7 years since I became General Sales Manager. Looking back at the 7 years, I am incredibly proud to say that I have the most amazing team of sales professionals. I manage them but they influence me in ways they will never know. I give them a voice to influence decisions we make to better our team and our station. Revenue has grown to levels that I never thought we would see. We have increased our digital sales revenue by 859% in a few short years.

I coach and mentor young professionals who are better than I ever was. I fully understand that my primary responsibility is revenue, and I take that responsibility very seriously. In 2021, we only missed one month’s budget and, even then, we only missed by 5%. We were able to hit our total station budget for the year before Q4 even rolled around. In today’s world, I feel a very strong sense of accomplishment for what we were able to achieve. I did not do that on my own, WE did that against all odds and during the pandemic. We did it because we care about local businesses. We did it because we want to win and we want our clients to win.

Radio Ink: What is the key to successfully managing salespeople today?
Marta DeLisi:   Someone whose opinion I have always valued once told me that God doesn’t give full packages. We are all different. One’s strength is another person’s struggle. There isn’t one key to successfully managing a sales team, there are many ways to positively impact a team and, from my experience, they all start with getting to know the people on your team and having empathy and respect for that person’s reality.

What matters to my Senior Account Manager, is not the same thing that matters to a new mom on my team. I try to get to know what their priorities and goals are and manage them to get to those goals.

As I mentioned in a previous answer, my team only missed one budget year to date last year, we are a single station market and we have consistently been my company’s top pacing market. Not a bad place to be! We got there through mutual understanding, accountability, respect and a lot of hard work.

To make a significant impact, a manager must understand the team. Are they in sales for the money, are they in sales for the flexibility, do they love to help clients and the affirmation that success leads to? Once I identify what makes a salesperson get up and come to work every day, I can then shift the conversation to how their actions are negatively or positively impacting their goals. My sales team is my greatest asset, they are my biggest clients. I need to make sure my constructive criticism and praise comes in the form of “what’s in it for the seller.” I find that it leads to a mutual respect and therefore an environment where they feel their voice is being heard, they are understood and they choose to work harder to make sure we collectively win.

Radio Ink: What is the best way to find and train successful salespeople?
Marta DeLisi: The recruitment process is a very delicate dance. Successful people understand that they are not desperate and that they have options. What makes my station a better fit for a veteran sales executive than any of the other stations who are calling him to work for them? Finding the person’s pain points and providing them with solutions is the best way to successfully recruit a salesperson. Additionally, it is not always about giving them a higher guaranteed salary. Sometimes it is about the work environment, the commute to the office, the flexibility or any other reason. My job is to uncover those reasons and remove the obstacles for them.

Just like there is an art to managing sales people, there is an art to hiring them. It takes a lot of work to identify the right people. I reserve time on my calendar every week to scroll though LinkedIn. My strategy is to look at people in the industry and tap into their contact groups. Many times a name will pop up that I haven’t seen in a while and I reach out to them to see how they are doing and if they are looking for a change. Another key thing that I always keep in mind is that it really isn’t about how fast you hire someone, I like to take the time to cover all my basis and interview as many people as possible before I make hiring decisions. The goal is to find salespeople who will not jump from station to station but instead commit to a company and thrive, develop strong relationships, generate revenue and build a long-lasting career.

Training sales people is also a commitment and can be challenging. This part of management cannot be ignored. Consistent training is a commitment, but I feel that it is also an investment. I like to put together a weekly training agenda and I also rely on 3rd party training as much as possible. My company invests in many tools to ensure we are successful, so I am constantly tapping into those tools and asking for training sessions.

One thing that I will add is that it doesn’t matter if we have been in the business for 5 minutes or 30 years, everyone benefits from regular training sessions. Today’s clients are looking for marketing experts who can help guide them through the thousands of options available to them. It takes years, decades and lifetimes to become an expert. My team meets every week for training. Some weeks we will train on digital assets, other weeks we train on overcoming objections and other weeks we brainstorm ideas on how to generate more revenue and help our clients thrive.  Sales is not always approached from the team perspective but, when it is, budgets get achieved, great ideas are generated, and everyone thrives.

Reach out to Marta and congratulate her on being a finalist for a 2022 Radio Ink Radio Wayne Award at [email protected].

Register for the Radio Ink Radio Masters Sales Summit HERE


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