Forums » New To Radio Sales?

New Station Owners Need Help with Sales

    • 1320 posts
    October 4, 2019 12:49 AM PDT
    From Pamela Malykont: Hi, My name is RaeLynn and I'm very new to the radio world. We (My sister and I) have started a radio station and we have three sales people. They are meeting with people every day and making phone calls to make appt. We have not gotten one sale! Some of the businesses want to trade with us and we have worked with some, but we need an influx of cash. How can I help them to be successful? They keep getting things like, 'You're so new how do we know your listener base?' 'We already have advertising at other radio stations and we don't see any need to change.'

    We have a lot of listeners that have been writing in and saying how much they like the station, but we haven't been able to convert that to numbers that will show how many are listening.

    Is there any ideas to help our people think outside the box and come up with some strategies that will get the sales rolling?


    • 1320 posts
    October 4, 2019 12:53 AM PDT

    From Rod Schwartz: RaeLynn/Pamela - you don't say what kind of station you've started. Is it a traditional broadcast station? LPFM? Online station? What are your call letters, what market are you in, and what is the URL for your website? I'd like to poke around and see what you're doing. Are you using any social media to promote the station? How are you equipping your advertising salespeople to solicit advertising from merchants? There are some excellent books available on prospecting from very good sources: Chris Lytle ("The Accidental Salesperson"), Paul Weyland ("Successful Local Broadcast Sales"), Norton Warner ("David Can Still Beat Goliath"), Phil Bernstein ("Breakthrough Prospecting"), are a few that come readily to mind. And the Wizard of Ads trilogy by Roy H. Williams - all three books are filled with ideas for making advertising work for small businesses. Preparation precedes success - in both the dictionary and in sales.

    Your prospects' response about being new and not knowing anything about you is certainly a legitimate concern. Few people are inclined to invest adfvertising dollars in something unknown and untested. If prospects are unfamiliar with your station, that's one of the first problems you must address. You need to find ways to become familiar, whether through promotions, advertising, direct visits, or some combination of all of these. (It's the same problem new merchants have; they need people to find them.) Becoming well known and well-liked will go a long way to lubricate your sales effort.

    Some stations use auctions to raise money, trading merchants for a bunch of merchandise and services and then selling the traded items in a live or on-air auction. When our stations did them years ago, we gave the merchants 70% of the retail value of the traded goods (giving them some benefit of their mark-up in most cases). It was an opportunity for them to unload stuff that hadn't been selling, or to get people to try their services for the first time. I might be able to find a copy of the contract we used, if that would be helpful.

    What about doing a lot of remote broadcasting from local nonprofits, stores, community events, etc. -- any opportunity to get your call letters and people in front of a crowd helps you to become more familiar in your marketplace. This isn't going to bring you an influx of cash, but will help create a context more favorable to your sales success down the line.

    Invite your listeners to send birthday greetings over the air. Sell them inexpensively and put them on a lot. Run promo spots offering this service to your listeners. You can even expand it to include personal ads for yard sales, garage sales, etc.

    Look forward to hearing back from you. And, hopefully, some of our other members will offer their suggestions.

    • 19 posts
    October 4, 2019 7:25 AM PDT

    I agree with everything that Rod is saying, but I also think you need to craft your story.  Why did you and your sister buy the station?  What was the driving factor?  What hole(s) are you filling in the market?  What experience do you have that can benefit the community and advertisers?  I have put on several new stations and it always starts with this.  We craft our story in a way that makes sense to the market and they can feel more comfortable working with us.  We also do a ton of local community projects both on-air and on location.  

    I would also not send my reps out to the market until they completely buy-in on your story/mission and then train them and continue to train them.  Join RAB and your local state broadcasters associations, many times they offer free training.  Reps need to be prepared...learning on the fly may not give you a second chance.  You could also build an opportunity for a first-time advertisers club.  You package it in a way that a limited number of clients can buy-in on the ground floor.  I've normally done this before I go on air so that I start with a revenue base.  Depending on market size, you build a schedule of 5-6 units/day 7 days a week, maybe add in some sponsorships and online and social media exposure.  3 reps, 5 clients each, 15 clients at $1000/month (depending on market) gets you started.

    There's obviously a lot more to it than just this.  Reach out if you have questions.

    • 94 posts
    October 4, 2019 9:30 AM PDT

    More details on your market and your station would be beneficial in crafting ideas to bring the potential advertiser around. 

    I think the salesperson has a job: to sell the client. The client has a job, to thwart the sale by any excuse that sends you down the wrong path. They might believe what they say but the fact is they're trying to defend themselves from buying something that is not right for them. That barrier diminishes over time, normally a few weeks.

    In doing direct sales, I center on the relationship and building trust and confidence. Some may disagree with my thinking, but I expose a weakness I have: I am not great at remembering names. I find people feel more comfortable with me if I expose a weakness. I think it makes me more 'real' and more believable. I tend to use "I believe" or "I think" because an opinion carries weight especially when you can build a case for your thoughts. 

    I tell my potential clients my job is to give them what they want for the price they can comfortably spend. I use this for closing by backing up my pitch with "I recall you told me..."  I close with "Will you let me deliver what you want for the price you want?"

    Being a new station, depending on the market, you might offer to record the merchant or other staff member giving their name and business name in a station liner you broadcast at random. This freebie gets the client and employees to give your station a listen and chances are they'll tell others. I found a client's voice on the radio is perceived as a success by the client and any action that results in that voice going off the air is perceived as a failure. Chances are nobody else will offer them the same thing. As you do this more and more, other merchants will hear all these other businesses doing liners on the station and figure you are a good place to put some of the advertising budget.

    Just keep building relationships. Getting the buy is always slower than you want. You're waiting out contracts, building trust and relationships. All of this takes time and an unflinching effort on your part. Most all can say yes but the question is when. You need to be there when that yes can be had.

    Another thing I like to do is to find something the client feels strongly about and offer it to them as a bonus for a contract. There is typically a good cause they champion. Learn what that is an give them something that tugs at their heartstrings. 

    Finally, go after the lowest hanging fruit. Any business that can advertise now, no matter the amount, grab those dollars and build success stories. If cash flow is an issue, offer a substantive discount (say 10%) for advance payment. I tell folks paying cash in advance is how most services and products are purchased anyway. You don't buy a set of tires for the car and pay for them after you use them. Then I say the discount is because of the savings we pass along for not having to take time to invoice, mail and collect.

    • 4 posts
    October 9, 2019 2:55 PM PDT

    So much can be said for Experience! But that does not mean you cant learn from others experience!

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    45+ years of experience here to help!