Radio Sales Café
Networking for radio advertising sales professionals from Grace Broadcast Sales.
Happy Friday, everyone!
It's been almost five years since we last asked this question, and since so many members have joined RSC in the meantime, we wanted to revisit it:
How did you end up in radio advertising sales? Did you "choose" it? Or did you stumble across it?
We'd love to hear your story . . . please share it with us!
My transition to sales was fairly abrupt as far as a fulltime position.
Earlier I had tried doing some sales in a small market where I was a DJ. I had no training nor guidance and was not successful, feeling I was not cut out to do sales.
Not long after, a visit to a small station in Texas, the GM was in his early 20s and was longing to get back to California where the station owner was located. He offered me his position. I assumed his 6 hour board shift, created the program log and did a horrible job at sales, truly hating the idea of selling (thanks to no training nor support and simply not having a clue).
About 8 years after this, after stints in various markets in programming, on air and such, I was fired from my job. I had been there only a few months, was married and moving was not possible financially. I visited the competitor in town and the GM wanted me to try sales. I told him I hated sales but I believed he saw something in me. I was willing to be guided and taught sales.
The first year was really tough and the monthly draw left us oweing more than I earned. By the second years it was beginning to pay off. I stayed with it and by the third year I wondered why I hadn't done the switch from on air to sales sooner. I literally was having a blast doing sales. All it took was a lack of other options and a boss that would help me over the rough spots.
That job got me my next position as a GM at an AM/FM combo, then a sales manager position at a larger station and finally a major market gig. The titles I held later were not just sales, but sales was a part of what I bought to the table. I consider myself fortunate to have learned and honed my on air and programming skills before learning the sales and management side. It truly helps me in understanding how to utilize radio for my clients.
I've been in the business since 1978 and I still go 'play' instead of 'work' in radio daily. I get to learn more all the time while still understanding radio from the position of reporting directly to the owner.
I was at the newspaper here in town for 11 years and my boss/manager now came to me and had asked me about a job in radio. Tell you the truth, I was scared to death but I needed change. I love sales, everything about it, most people, the growth, the social aspect, a client that listens AND has that ah HAAAA moment, this works. I am a firm believer that in any kind of advertising if you do it right it will pay off. Anyway, she had came to me and I took the plunge, it was VERY different from newspaper and I wondered for more than a year if I had made the right choice but here I am 5 years later and look back and know I had made the right decision.
I was an accidental salesperson. I even wrote a book about it! Here's my story:
Sales, it seems, is the final frontier for liberal arts graduates who have learned how to learn, but don't know how to do much else.
As a 1972 graduate with a B.A. in political science, I had three ways to use my degree and maximize the investment my parents had made in my education. I could go to law school, take a job in a politician's office, or become a journalist and cover the political scene.
Although my grades in school had always been great, my score on the LSAT exam was the lowest on any standardized test I had ever taken. The score barely would have qualified me to attend an unaccredited night school. I took that as a signal that law probably wasn't right for me.
After graduation, I landed a job as a summer intern for my congressman. There I was, two weeks out of college and working on Capitol Hill in the Cannon House Office Building. But instead of catching "Potomac Fever," I was appalled by the political process as it is played out in real life. The pace is agonizingly slow, and bills become laws by a series of compromises and political favors.
Having eliminated law school and a political career within six weeks of graduating, I decided to pursue that career in journalism. Reporting on the political process I so despised seemed like a good career. I would become the next Walter Cronkite.
At the end of my internship, I returned to my parents' home and began my job search. Since Newark, Ohio, did not have a television station and I didn't have any money to move to a big city, I figured I would start my journalism career by landing a job in the news department at the local radio station. Then, after establishing myself in the business, it would be a fairly simple thing to move to Columbus, Ohio, and be a TV reporter. That would lead to local anchor on the ten o'clock news and then to the network level.
There was only one thing standing in the way of that master plan. The general manager at the local radio station announced during my first interview that he already had two newsmen.
"Chris," he said, "I could put you on as an advertising salesman."
"But you don't understand, Mr. Pricer," I said. "I'm a political science major."
"Chris, my offer still stands."
My inner dialogue went this way: "I'll do anything to get into broadcasting--even sell." My reasoning was that, once I was in the door, I could work my way into the news department.
"I'll take it," I said.
Some of you may know the rest of the story.
I entered thru the back door. I grew up wanting to be an air personality and got my first paying job babysitting a transmitter at age 16 because I passed the FCC exam and the night time D.J. at a local station kept flunking it. I then spent 10 years on the air and in programming managment when I moved to Detroit to do production for WMUZ. I ended up taking over the morning show for awhile too. But when I was at WMUZ writing and producing ad campaigns, I was also training the new salespeople. Finally I told our GM that the next sales opening he had, I wanted.
My first experience in sales wasn't that great do to my own nerves and when I returned to Indiana, I went back to the airwaves.
Finally at age 43, I returned to radio sales and (almost) never looked back since 2003.
I am very new to Radio Advertising Sales and I never imagined that I would be working in the business. Here is the story...
I was a banker for the past 6 year. It was a job that I was good at and that I loved. I had made a company switch and after about 9 months, I knew it was a company that I could not continue to work for. I felt that I needed to offer them a few months to find my replacement because it was the dead of winter. During that time I had reached out to the station owner to ask her if she would be willing to form an intentional mentoring relationship. I knew her through a women's organization that we were both on the council for and I admired her professionalism, ability to articulate a vision, business success and community involvement. After about four years of watching her leadership, I knew she was someone that I wanted to learn from. It didn't matter to me that we were in completely different industries, because I felt that, as a sales person, I still could learn from her. It just so happened that during this period, a position at the station opened and I was asked to consider the position.
I won't lie, I laughed.
My first issue was that I had a phobia of the radio. It was my favorite station and I was a huge supporter, but it didn't take away the fear.
My second issue was that I didn't know a single thing about radio.
I have always been someone who believes you should always have conversations because you never know where a conversation may lead or the door it may open. I thought my conversation in radio was simply going to be a conversation. I was having some other conversations at the time and felt pretty confident about the direction I was heading for my next position. But, as I continued having conversations, I realized that something within me was telling me to go the route of Radio Advertising Sales. After reaching a point of paralysis on making a decision, I decided to take up an offer from a friend who stated she would do a tarot card reading. I figured it couldn't hurt and I had no idea what I was doing with my life next as it was. Well, the reading ended up being an extremely clear message that I needed to choose radio.
I knew I had the opportunity of a lifetime because it is rare that you get to work for someone who you respect as much as I respect our station owner.
It has only been two months, but I love my job. I'm working on building a book of business that serves the company well and I am trying to learn everything I can about radio.
I can say one thing... I no longer feel the need to have conversations which may open new doors or opportunities.