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Radio’s Second Sales Team

June 13, 2013

Most of us who have worked at a radio station were keenly aware of one of radio’s two sales teams. These are the folks who wear suits (or at least they used to), met with advertisers, and sold commercials. But there is a second team of sellers at a radio station, whose sales job is much more difficult – the on-air personalities.

Why do I say that?

In theory, the advertising sales folks can close any piece of business they really want by simply offering the advertising for free. How many advertisers would say no to a free ad schedule? In other words, their most difficult objection to overcome is price.

Conversely, an on-air personality’s job is to convince (sell) the listeners to tune in often and listen for long periods of time. At the same time, your competition is trying to do the same thing with other potential listeners. Unlike the advertising sales people, price is not an issue here, since both are offering their product for free.

So how does a jock or personality sell to the listener?

Like any good sales person, those on air need to know the goal; increase the amount of time the listener spends with the station. How do they do that?

Give them what they want. A satisfied customer is a repeat customer. It then comes to delivering what they want.  Simply put:

  • Know who your listeners are
  • Know why they are coming to your station
  • Give it to them!

For many on the programming side, the first step is often the most important. Knowing that your station focuses on Women 25-54 with an emphasis on 35-44 is not enough. Remember that your listeners are living breathing beings with a life filled of likes and dislikes.

By understanding these likes and dislikes, your conversation with them can be more relevant. Why talk about last night’s game if research shows that your listeners don’t like sports? Why spend time talking about the latest reality show if they are light TV viewers? Detailed information on your listeners’ lifestyle and habits is available in both The Media Audit and Scarborough. Operation managers should detail a profile of that listener.

Some stations even turn this profile into a character with a name and even a picture. Your on-air team needs to know that every time they open up the mic they are talking to her (or him).  If it does not interest them, DON’T SAY IT!

Next, like a good sales person, your on-air staff needs to figure out how to get more from the customer. The advertising sales people at the station measure this by increasing the amount of dollars the advertiser spends on the station. Your on-air staff can measure it by time spent listening. Give the audience a reason to listen longer or come back at a different time. Make it worth their while.

Finally, every client appreciates being thanked for their business. Your mother was right when she told you to always say thank you.  Thanking the listeners for spending time at your station can go a long way in building that bond.

In conclusion, your on-air staff needs to think like a sales person.

  • Know your client (the listeners)
  • Know what they want
  • Give them what they want
  • Get more from them
  • Thank them for their business

-Charlie Sislen, Partner