Just imagine what your sales life would be like if you could gobble up all of the product lines in your market and get rid of two thirds of your competition. It would be Super Fantastic! You sell all the products lines people want with much less competition than before. That’s exactly what has happened in happened in the Radio business. So why are sales down in the dumps?
It wasn’t long ago when one company could own a maximum of fourteen Radio stations, seven AM stations and seven FM stations. In any given mid-sized community, there were five or six owner operators running ten to twelve Radio stations. Each company had five or six sales people. So there were thirty to forty sales people selling ten to twelve radio stations.
But in the 1990s, deregulation came to the Radio business. Companies were now free to own as many Radio stations across the country as they could afford to buy. Companies could now own four or five, maybe even six radio stations in a single town. As these companies bought up more Radio stations, they looked for ways to save money. Consolidating multiple facilities into one, cutting management staff, combining back office functions were among the first and most obvious money saving ideas.
But many of the problems facing the Radio business today can be traced back to the decisions to reorganize the Radio sales departments. Poorly conceived ideas about consolidating the sales departments have severely crippled the Radio business, perhaps fatally. Regardless of whether it was the separate sales team or the combined sales team, poor management decisions have cut the meat out of the Radio sales effort.
In virtually every market across the country today, managers have reduced the number of sales people to a fraction of the number of people who represented those very same Radio stations before consolidation. The net result is that there are fewer sales people making fewer presentations to fewer prospects than before deregulation. Managers have provided sales people with more selling opportunities, reduced the competiion and they still pay 15% commission.
Mathematically, it is easier today to make good money in Radio than ever before. A sales person has more stations to sell and fewer competitors. We have seen business expansion and rising prices in every single sector, but Radio has not enjoyed the bump, because of these Radio sales department decisions.
I wonder what our business would be like today if we had cut commissions every time we gave the sales department another Radio station to go sell. Other industries did that. In fact, when other industries consolidated and pared down the sales department, the lucky sales person that remained was required to keep all of the combined lines of business at or above the pre consolidation levels or they would be shown to the door. The companies cut the commissions because the sales person had more to sell and less competition.
Regardless of how we got where we are today, what can be done to improve our lot?
The first thing to do is mount a publicity campaign in your recruiting efforts about the wide range of products your sellers can offer and the reduced number of competitors they have to deal with. That’s unheard of in any other selling job. There are legions of experienced medical sales people out there who are fed up with their own company for sending out multiple sellers on the same drug to the same doctor! Medical sales reps would really appreciate the value of a Radio sales career.
Next, mount a publicity campaign with your existing sales people. Teach them about the bountiful opportunity consolidation has created for them. Get their minds off of the stinkin thinkin that is infecting Radio sales departments across the county. There are more businesses in America today than back in the 1990s. Sales people just need to go out and see them.
Third, consider cutting your commission structure. Most sales people have two and three times the product to sell these days. That increases the range of customers they can call on. Most modern day Radio clusters have a format for everyone. A Radio sales person should be able to sell every single client up and down main street something on at least one of the stations.
A modern day Radio sales person has a wide variety of products to sell and more customers to sell to than ever before but we still pay the same commissions we paid back when we only had one or two radio stations to offer. There is a direct connection between the low sales effort put forth on these big clusters and the comparatively high commission rates Radio pays today.
Radio sales is a fabulous opportunity. Ninety three percent of Americans listen to the Radio every week. No other medium enjoys such universal acceptance. It’s a great product enjoyed by millions and millions of consumers. There is no other logical reason for our business to be down other than we’re not making enough sales calls.
Talk to you soon.