On-Air Talent should do Sales – Let’s face it you already do

Over the past couple of years I have spent time in two, what would be categorised as, small markets, one in the US and one in NSW.

During that time a situation has been unfolding in Hawaii, possibly more by good luck than good management that has had me thinking about how we approach our business.

In parallel with that, the challenges of a project in NSW also had me contemplating the same premise which is the subject of this article.

Air Talent should do Sales and yes, be paid commission for revenue closed.

In smaller markets there have always been multitasking job descriptions but they tended to align, creatively – announcer/ copywriter or technically – announcer /production. And these days on-line and social media are also part of the job.

But it begs the question: Why not more Announcer /Sales or Sales /Announcer?

My contention is that almost all on-air people have the capacity to be Sales people, and that the step to this solution is not that large.

Every time you send an audition to a CD it’s a sales pitch. You are selling yourself to get the gig.

Every break you ever do on the air is you selling your personality, your sense of humour, your viewpoint. You are selling your attributes to the listener. Every hook or tease is a sales pitch to get the audience to stay for another break.

You are happy to be coached to become a better on-air personality, it is basically training.

 Why wouldn’t you be happy to receive basic sales training and coaching? A skill that I would suggest will come in handy during your hopefully long career.

A close friend and associate of mine who has had years in senior management  has been heard to utter quite often lots of on-air people have natural sales instincts, they just don’t know how to ask for the order and close.

A CEO for whom I worked in Asia once said to me if he could get Sales people to pay the same attention to clients/ customers as CD’s do to listeners he’d have much more effective sales teams

In these times of tightening profits, rising costs, coupled with decreasing on air opportunities, the idea of on air talent carrying a client list seems to warrant some thought at least.

Stan Davis has written a book called “Blur” it addresses the speed of change in the connected economy. One of the cornerstones of the book is the notion that any organisation that has more than 30% of its staff not DIRECTLY contributing to the bottom line is too fat, too top heavy.

“Blur” is not the reason for going down this path, it just articulates what is becoming a fact of life for business.

At Resonate Hawaii all but three of our complement of 11 people carry a client list and operate as Sales people, and one of those three is our Traffic Manager, who it could be argued, crucially contributes to the bottom line both thru his TM role and his sales co-ordination attributes.

The GM carries a client list.

The Operations/Production person carries a client list. The Breakfast Anchor carries a client list. The Breakfast Co-host carries a client list, and as expected our four Sales people all carry client lists.

The two exceptions being our contract broadcast and technology guy and our out-sourced Music Director.

OK having a General Manager/Sales Manager having a client list is a given.

An Operations/Production person not so much. But here’s a position that generates creative solutions and works on presentation and pitches. Moving to making pitches to clients is a small step.

Our Breakfast anchor is a former jock who did Sales. He was initially hired to do Sales, although we were aware of his on air background.

Our Breakfast co-host is a stand-up comedian and musician whose real job until we hired her was Sales. She was hired to work on the air but the gig required that she undertook to do Sales to which she agreed.

Even with the focus on Sales, Sandy and Kapena are no vanilla, garden variety duo, they are consistently turning out highly engaging, genuinely entertaining content.

And SURPRISE when they turn up in clients offices people know the show, know the benchmarks, know them. Tends to smooth out the sales process.

So the blasphemous idea that on-air people could/should do Sales is not rooted in fantasy.

I could imagine there might be a few more on air opportunities in smaller markets if announcers were carrying a list and underwriting their cost to the business.

If as an on-air person you have content director aspirations, having sales skills is actually a plus.

Selling Sales Managers or General Managers (who tend to have a Sales background) on unbudgeted Content or Product concepts/ideas that need funding, gets easier if you know and use the techniques.

And eventually, when you are finally in line for that senior management gig, having had a couple of years “in the trenches” sales experience isn’t going to hurt your chances for promotion.

About the Author:

Keith Fowler is a Director of the Resonate Project Group and and also consults at Resonate Hawaii He can be contacted via the Resonate Project Group website here.

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