Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

The Audacity of Hopes

Posted by Steve on January 22, 2009

The well-written and to-the-point article by Jim Hopes, CEO of the Center for Sales Strategies, on the future of traditional media selling provides a cogent analysis and an audacious (in the good way) solution to a seemingly intractable problem in broadcast media sales. Here are a few lines from the article that shifted my thinking:

The first (and biggest) problem with broadcast sales departments is how they’re organized—much more as wholesale businesses than as retail businesses. Think about it:

A wholesale business is one that:
• Sells large quantities of its products to a short list of resellers.
• Deals with third-parties, with proxies and agents, not with the end-user of the product.
• Negotiates price and terms with professional specialist buyers, often defaulting to commodity
pricing levels.
• Sells about the same thing to every customer—a schedule.
• When broadcasters deal with transactional media buyers—national, regional, or local—they are
practicing the media equivalent of wholesale selling.

A retail business, by contrast:
• Sells smaller quantities to a broad range of solution-seeking end-users.
• Learns the end-user’s needs and problems and takes responsibility for finding or developing
solutions.
• Solutions are tailored. No two look alike.
• Establishes consistent pricing for all customers, negotiating only on selected high-ticket items.
• When broadcasters deal directly with the end-user advertiser—whether there’s an agencyinvolved or not—chances are their entire approach is more like retail selling.

My experience both as a broadcast salesperson and as a provider of services to broadcast sales departments has told me this – but I hadn’t put the concept into such a compelling argument.

Jim does.

Jim goes on to discuss solutions to the dichotomy of having a wholesale business with a retail customer base – I recommend that you read it carefully. You can find it here.

My contribution to this discussion is that – in many cases – this dichotomy exists not only in sales departments at radio stations, but also in the minds of salespeople. There are thousands of radio salespeople out there that know in their gut that the local media sales business is truly a retail business, yet they are forced by culture and compensation plans into selling like a wholesaler or they try to sell like a retailer to wholesale customers. These are the salespeople that you want on your team. They are probably the ones that are most likely to have the “right stuff” to succeed in this environment. And – based on my reports from the trade press, the people who remain at Clear Channel are the strong “wholesalers.” The “retailers” are on the street.

Hire one or two and you’ll get an immediate return on investment.

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