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Are Your People Posers or Professionals?

Calling yourself a media sales consultant doesn’t automatically transfer those skills

Wanted: Radio sales person who doesn’t know anything about media, but has great hair and can talk a good game. It has become common practice for radio stations to portray their ad sales people as “media sales consultants.”

This exotic title is printed on business cards and lauded as an advantage to potential clients. After all, the reasoning goes, if we’re selling radio, digital, mobile and social, then our sales people are not just “radio account executives” anymore.

What’s missing? The education and training necessary to back up the boast that we are indeed media sales experts.

This is a huge issue for those joining the radio sales ranks, but you will also find ongoing training lacking for even senior reps. It’s time to look in the mirror and confess that we need to spend more time as an industry making certain that the people most important to our bottom line are representing us in the best possible light.

If you don’t believe this is a weakness at your station, it’s easy enough to do a quick reality check. Start by finding out if your sales people understand the basic mechanics of radio ad sales.

You can do this just by looking at a schedule they’ve put together for a current client. Does the schedule have enough frequency and reach within each single week to drive action?

Next, check out the creative for the radio spot and any other digital assets. Is the client’s main selling proposition for this product clear? Does the offer have the potential to move the audience to action? Do the radio spot and digital creative convey the same messaging?

If the schedule constructed doesn’t reach a substantial percentage of your audience more than three times per each week of the run, then your sales rep not only isn’t a “media sales consultant” — she’s barely a radio sales account rep.

If the copy doesn’t cut it, then she also needs to spend time with your creative team to better understand how to move consumers.

Beware of what I call the “That’s What the Client Wants” defense. This is when a sales rep defends her actions by telling you in no uncertain terms that she’s only doing what the client demands. It’s not her fault if none of it works. This defense is acceptable once or twice, but after running campaigns multiple times on your air, consumers won’t be coming back when ads fail to generate results.

A real “media sales consultant” should explain patiently and passionately how frequency, reach and great creative will offer the best potential for truly making the cash register ring.

The digital test comes next.

Can your sales reps explain basic digital terminology? The definitions for Uniques, Visitors, Pageviews, Impressions and Bounce Rate are all easily found on the Internet. Have they taken the time to understand and memorize them? Can they speak to typical cost per thousand advertising on websites in your market and how your websites rank against those rates? Have you trained them to understand that sponsorships of your important site sections are likely to generate better results than click-thrus on banner advertising? Do they know that preroll ads with good creative on your videos are a powerful tool?

Here’s one that almost nobody gets right the first time: What’s got the highest open rate of all digital media?

Answer: a text message.

That’s precisely why you should never, never, ever send junk text messages with just ads and no content. Your recipients will see the message the first time and then probably never again because you have violated their phones with junk. Your client’s reward will be scorn, and your SMS text list will shrink with unsubscribes.

Social sales is perhaps the trickiest of all because each social service has terms-of-service statements that are easy to violate if you don’t understand what they mean to you and your clients.

Don’t laugh at direct mail! There’s a reason why all that junk still arrives in your mailbox! A true “sales media consultant” knows that properly segmented lists with excellent creative will work for advertisers.

Finally, do all of your “media sales consultants” know how to conduct a needs analysis with their clients? This is all about asking the right questions, being a great listener and returning to the office with answers written down on paper that can be used to formulate the advertising action plan.

You have a choice! Your sales organization can be comprised of posers — or professionals.

Posers produce short-term results. Professionals rule the world.

The author is president of Lapidus Media and a longtime contributor. Email[email protected].