I volunteer my time each year to help organise the speakers for the Ontario Association of Broadcasters one-day conference which this year will be held in Toronto on Thursday, November 7th at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel. This year we asked OAB member stations what content they wanted at this conference, and many of you asked that we continue the sales training seminars and find a qualified speaker who can help sales reps grow their traditional radio sales, but also help them with digital strategies. We looked around the world and found Matt Sunshine from the Centre for Sales Strategy, or CSS as it is better known. Matt works with both traditional media and online/digital clients in markets across Canada and the US. He was Group Director of Sales for Susquehanna Radio and GSM for their Dallas cluster before joining CSS in 2006.
Matt promises to deliver actionable ideas that sales reps can take back to their markets and start using immediately. The half day seminar will focus on ideas and best practices to grow traditional radio sales as well as how to generate digital revenue. You will hear why digital is important, how it’s growing and get some great ideas to grow your digital sales. I talked to Matt recently and asked him about CSS and how he helps sales reps to be more successful.
Tell us about CSS: The Centre for Sales Strategy is a company that has been around for about 30 years and our goal is to turn sales talent into sales performance. The Centre for Sales Strategy has a 93% client retention rate of our own customers and our average customer has been a customer of ours for 8 years. We help stations execute a sales process that grows revenue and ensures repeatable sales. We believe the formula for sales success is: sales talent + sales training + sales tactics = sales performance. Do you have the right people and are you providing them with the right training and do you have the right tactics in place? If all three of those things are right then you will drive overall sales performance.
Tell us about your sales process: When we explain our sales process most people agree that it is simple and easy to understand. But the success is found in the details and doing every step of the process. We have found that there are seven steps to a proper sale as follows:
But the real success comes when you become really good at each one of the seven steps.
What is the biggest challenge for sales reps in 2013? Getting the appointment. I am in front of a different radio sales department two to three times a week and by far the number one issue is getting a quality appointment. The second biggest challenge is to get an assignment to work on.
How does a radio sales rep stand out from the crowd selling products and services to the local retailer in 2013? This is one of the topics I will cover in more detail in Toronto in November. In the “old days” you had to look professional and have a valid business reason in the mind of the client to earn an appointment. Today you need more than that, and you need to be solving their problems and not yours. You also need to be persistent and we have some research that shows you how many times you need to approach a client over a specific number of days in order to increase your success rate. We’ll also talk about third part referrals, success stories, floating a preliminary idea, having a capabilities brochure, using social media effectively, looking at how you appear on Linked In, getting an inside coach, having a personal marketing resume are some of the things you can do in order to stand out, to establish credibility and get the attention of the people you are trying to meet with.
What can a sales rep expect to get from attending your sales seminar in Toronto in November? They will walk away with actionable, practical ideas they can start using immediately. Not only will I share with them a sales process that actually works, but also I am going to give them some tactics at how to prospect more effectively and how to do a better job of selecting prospects. Also, I will give them some ideas on how to earn more appointments, given that is one of the biggest challenges facing sales reps today.
What are some of the things sales reps need to be doing to truly uncover the client’s needs and earn their business? In simple terms they have to stop selling and start solving. If you ever sit on the other side of the desk and let a sales person come in and present to you, chances are they will talk about themselves, their station and their products and services which may also include digital offerings. It’s a lot of pitching, and some more experienced reps will disguise the pitch by asking some questions about the business, but they quickly make it about the station and not about the client. Most clients see right through that. The client cares about his business and how he can meet his goals and objectives, and unless the radio sales rep is helping the process, the client will tune out. Therefore, the sales reps need to slow down during the discovery phase, and ensure they uncover needs and get an assignment. But all too often, because the sales rep has budgets and is required to close business, they rush the process. They may end up getting some business that has little or no chance of ever renewing, or even worse, they leave a lot of money on the table.
Some stations are finding that 30% more clients do not renew. Why is that and how can they reduce such a high rate of attrition? You need to have the expectation conversation with the prospect very early in the process. We suggest you do that after you have discussed the idea, but before you build and present the proposal. Setting the client’s expectations is often the area where reps fall short which creates issues down the road. You need to have a realistic conversation to determine what the client expects to see happen from this campaign. How will they measure the response and determine the success and the ROI? Knowing how the success will be measured allows you to include that in the proposal and you should see more renewals because of this.
Why is digital becoming more important to radio? Because that is what the consumer wants. The average consumer is spending more time online and they expect a radio station to have a strong digital presence. As marketers, our job is to connect our advertisers with our audiences and smart radio station operators realise they have two audiences – one is listening to the radio and the other is online. So today we sell audiences and connect them with our clients. Some radio stations have tremendous number of people on their websites and listening to the audio streams online, and advertisers want to connect with those people. One of the real benefits of digital is that you can truly measure and track ROI for the client.
So how should radio stations be selling their digital? We encourage stations to educate clients on the station’s digital capabilities as a way to deliver a solution that solves the client’s needs or problems. We think this is a better way to go. Radio stations have a tremendous opportunity to sell integrated solutions, but they need to focus on solutions using both traditional radio assets as well as their digital assets. This results in better results for the customers and helps drive more revenue. The clients that we work with who sell integrated solutions are seeing solid results and the stations are generating significant revenue as a result of this approach. The stations that struggle are the ones that do not place a real value on their digital products and who pitch it to everyone so they can tick a box and say they pitched digital, but it becomes more trouble than it’s worth.
How does a rep go about developing their digital elevator speech? There is not a canned response to this question and, frankly, there shouldn’t be because we don’t want all the reps from various organisations telling the same story or it might sound phony and insincere. So each rep needs to develop their own 60 to 90 second response and not give a 15 minute speech. We suggest you include an example or two of how your station’s digital products solved a problem for other business owners. The more we can tell stories, and particularly success stories, the better off we will be. People want to hear examples of how digital actually works and they want to be part of the success of digital. But you have to know your digital capabilities and you need to know how to convey that to a prospect so it solves their problems and not yours.
How should radio sales reps deal with Google AD words and the other Search offerings that are being offered to our clients? I tell clients that if it’s working for them then they should keep doing it. But if it’s not working for them, then perhaps we might be able to help them reach our local audience. But even if it is working for them we have a huge number of local website visitors that they might like to reach and further increase their customer base. Remember, “search” is like the old yellow pages. My toilet is overflowing and I need a plumber so I type “plumbers in (city)” into a search engine because I have an immediate need. Search is a powerful marketing tool and is great when used effectively, but it is not all of the marketing a business should be doing. It is just one component of the marketing that a business needs to do. The same applies to all the other social media tools that are out there and being offered up as a way to connect to consumers. It is a marketing tool but the business needs to know which ones are the right ones for their business and how to use them effectively. As a sales rep you need to know what each of these products are good at doing, and what they are not good at doing. Remember, your job is to uncover the prospect’s problems and then offer solutions that work. Sometimes they may include recommending using some of these tools, such as advertising on Facebook. You will become trusted and valued in the mind of your prospect because you are thinking about their needs verses thinking about your needs.
How should a station measure success with a digital campaign? Look to create a dashboard of what measurables will be used to judge the success of the campaign. All too often a customer will look at one metric. They might focus on click through rates. But they should also look at conversion rates, impressions and then should look to see if they had more store traffic, if sales went up and they should look at what the digital campaign was focused on. Looking at just one area is like looking only at the time of possession in an NFL game. That is only one aspect of the game. Looking at a variety of metrics will better determine if the station delivered on the agreed upon expectations.
How should sales reps deal with creative for digital? Frankly, they are the same in a lot of respects. Asking some basic questions of the client will help regardless of where the creative is running. For example, after a potential customer sees or hears your message, what is it that you want them to think? What do you want them to feel? What is it that you want them to do? Also take a look at their website and see what the user experience is like. Is it easy to navigate, how does it look on a computer, on a tablet and on a mobile phone? Is the content fresh and relevant and is it being updated frequently? There is no point in building a great digital ad to drive lots of potential customers to the client’s website if the client’s website is hard to navigate, is not up to date and it is not easy for them to communicate with the retailer. If, for example, it’s a Lasik clinic, can I schedule my appointment right on the website? Do they have live chat on the site and will someone respond quickly to questions? You need to know all this so you can help the client and to ensure the campaign will be successful.
How do you set the client’s expectations when selling digital? It is the same way as you do it for traditional advertising. The problem is that most sales reps currently do not have the expectations conservations at any time during the sales process. You need to find out from the client what type of sales they are looking to see as a result of this campaign. How many people are they looking to come into the store? You need to establish actionable and reasonable expectations. Ask, “What two or three things would you like to see happen as a result of this campaign?” Repeat this back to the client and state that if the following two or three things happen you would be happy and you would want to repeat this campaign next month or for the next 12 months. Not every client will be the same, but it is much better to have this conservation prior to presenting the proposal than afterwards, because then you are looking like you are trying to cover up for yourself or the radio station.
Conclusion: If you are in radio sales I encourage you to sign up for this half day of powerful learning. The cost is just $99 if the station you work for is a member of the OAB and $129 if it is not. The price includes lunch and the keynote speaker. This will be a practical hands-on-training for Sales people focusing on selling traditional broadcast as well as digital. You will learn how it works, how to sell it and just as importantly how to sell against it, when required. Sales reps will leave the seminar with actionable ideas they can immediately start using in the field. This is a great investment for any radio station and any sales rep. If you are not in sales, but know someone who is please help them by forwarding this article to them. More information about the OAB and the OAB annual one day conference can be found at http://www.oab.ca/