One in a series of articles wrapping up themes and
sessions of the recent NAB Show.
When it’s time to focus on rolling out expensive new
technology in a typical radio station, it’s usually the on-air
studios, the production department and the IT crew that get all the
The DBC tablet gets put to use by Delmarva General Sales
Manager Ruth Gilbert and Account Manager Todd Waldbuesser. The
computer of choice for Delmarva now is the Lenovo: Thinkpad
Twist-12.5 HD Multitouch-Intel Core i5-3317u, a change from the
initial spec of a Lenovo Yoga Ultra Book, according to General
Manager Mike Reath, who adds that the ‘Twist has a larger hard
drive and better touch screen interface.’
Courtesy Delmarva Broadcasting Company
But a fairly modest investment in technology can pay big
rewards if it’s applied down the hall in the sales department, say
experts who spoke on that topic at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
At Delmarva Broadcasting Company (DBC) in Wilmington,
Del., General Manager Mike Reath says his stations, including
flagships WDEL(AM) and WSTW(FM), are in the midst of a huge change in
the technology available to their sales staffs.
“Historically, all of the things that we’ve had to
sell in radio have been done on paper,” Reath said.
It’s not just the usual pile of coverage maps and
testimonials and rate cards that are printed out and bound together
to leave with clients. Reath says DBC’s salespeople have become
accustomed to generating ad copy on paper, showing layouts of banner
ads on paper and even presenting mockups of mobile websites on paper.
ULTRABOOKS FOR SALES
To replace all that paper, DBC has invested in the
creation of custom software that will put a wealth of tools right at
the fingertips of its sales people, who’ve all been outfitted with
Lenovo Yoga “ultrabook” computers, which are a flip-over hybrid
of a tablet and a small laptop.
“We looked hard at going with iPads, but they don’t
work with Arbitron or our traffic and billing software,” Reath
says. “We also looked at the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but it has a weird
version of Android that doesn’t work well with PowerPoint.”
DBC’s sales force now sells much more than just
airtime on the company’s radio signals. Reath says a typical buy
can include everything from streaming ads to texting campaigns to
custom-built mobile websites, and even to a DBC service that provides
online reputation management for clients.
Until now, it has been hard for sales representatives to
explain everything in the DBC portfolio, but Reath says the new
software will allow those reps to build entire campaigns on the
computer, right in front of the client.
While the software wasn’t finished in time for the NAB
Show, Reath was able to show off many of the features he’d
specified. In addition to convenient on-screen display of sales
materials, ratings comparisons
and customer data, the software includes access to an
audio library of successful campaigns to play for clients.
It then allows DBC’s 10 Wilmington-based sales reps to
craft mock ad schedules and create pricing for clients — and to
immediately provide a polished PDF to leave with the client as well.
Even in unfinished form, Reath says the software is
showing its value. A recent client visit, he says, came right on the
heels of another sales call from a competing cluster.
The client “had a schedule coming to them from the
competitor that was free, and we were asking them for a $60,000 buy.”
After walking the client through all of DBC’s
offerings with the help of the software, Reath says they got the buy
— and a big compliment from the client, who told them, “I didn’t
think radio could do all this. You’ve come a long way.”
Reath says DBC developed the software for its own
internal use, but he’s open to the possibility of working with
other independent broadcasters to modify the package for their use as
NO CHEESY SPEAKERS
Broadcasters at the session also heard from Dave Casper,
senior vice president for internet services at the Radio Advertising
He presented an overview of the existing technology
choices available for sales managers hoping to better outfit their
troops in the field. Those resources include RAB’s own mobile
website, www.rab.com/mobile, which includes access to decades
of RAB’s own research, Gold Digger prospecting reports and, for
inspiration, more than two decades of Radio Mercury Award finalists
in MP3 format.
But Casper also says that, especially for sales veterans
who’ve become accustomed to selling in lower-tech ways, the value
of a shiny new iPad may be limited.
“If the technology prevents them from feeling
comfortable when they’re making their presentation, that’s going
to be reflected in the presentation and it’s going to affect their
closing ratio,” he said.
If new technology is the right choice for a sales force,
though, Casper offered some tips from his own experience, including
the importance of a top-quality set of external speakers for account
executives who’ll be playing demo spots in clients’ offices.
“This is radio,” he said. “It’s got to sound
Scott Fybush is a longtime contributor.