Salespeople: What would you like the production people you work with to know about YOUR world?

In the October 2012 issue of RAP, we featured the following Q It Up question: “What would you like the salespeople you work with to know about your world?” Rod Schwartz of Radio Sales Café (www.radiosalescafe.com – RAP Interview Feb/Mar 2012) offered to post the responses we received on his website for salespeople and solicited responses from them. We present those responses below, which are also available on the Radio Sales Café website forum. Not all responses are from salespeople, as radiosalescafe.com has many producers as members also.

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SalesProduction-copyLast month’s [October 2012] Radio And Production (RAP) Magazine featured a lively discussion on the question: “What would you like the salespeople you work with to know about your world?”

You might be surprised at the responses that poured in from producers. Many were passionate and truly helpful; some pulled no punches in describing the occasionally fractious relationship between sales and production. I enjoyed reading their responses and I think you will, too.

In the interest of fairness, we’d like to give salespeople the opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts:

What would you like the production people you work with to know about YOUR world?

Reply by Simon Paul Rushton: As a creative manager I remind my staff... and myself. If WE miss our creative target 3 times in a row, we’ll be looked at sternly. A sales person who misses 3 targets in a row may get shown the door.

Reply by Todd Holen: Simon, I would like to know what you mean by missing the creative target three in a row. If you are coming up with three completely different ads and the client still doesn’t have an ad that will speak to the intended target with a message the client wants to convey, that may mean that you are not receiving enough information. I suggest you start asking the salesperson questions that clarify the direction of the campaign.

Reply by Simon Paul Rushton, www.simonrushton.com: I am talking about revenue targets. I am used to working with a department target of creative revenue and profit. Not scripts. Why ask the sales person? Why not ask the client?

Reply by Big John Small, Sunny Radio, MySunnyRadio.com: I live with a foot in each world. I write and record ads every day, but as the owner of the radio station, I’m also out doing sales too! I can tell you that many “non-sales” radio professionals have NO IDEA how difficult it can be to get the client on board for some things. I’ve been to meetings where some promotion will be mentioned and a “non-sales” team member talks as though the client HAS TO SAY YES.... but they do not have to say yes! They may say no!

If you were to be rejected as many times a day as a salesperson, you would understand! On air staff is used to hearing GOOD things from listeners... they hear POSITIVE comments all day long. Salespeople hear NEGATIVE (no budget, no interest, not the right idea) all day long.

If you have a “non-sales” team member that needs a wake-up call... have them shadow a salesperson for a few hours! At the end of the day... they will BOTH understand each other a little better!

Reply by Rod Schwartz: John, the old adage about walking a mile in the other fella’s shoes is certainly applicable to our situation. Great post - thanks!

Reply by Pam at Kasl Radio AM 1240: Sales DRIVE the radio station! Period. The End.

Reply by Jack Walker: I can’t begin to say how much this statement hurts team morale and getting the absolute best for the client. The on-air team and your administrative personal are your internal customers. The salesperson who treats the on-air team and administrative folks just like they would a client, will always get the best results for the client.

Simon Paul Rushton: Sales without a product to sell is NOTHING. Semi Colon. The Beginning.

Big John Small: Like a great restaurant with no waiters... or great servers with no cooks! It is VERY MUCH a TEAM effort! Let’s all work together to make their radio advertising results ROCK!

Reply by Barry Volk: I’m coming from the other side of the fence as a producer. But I’ve worked in sales so I will tell you what my production partners know. They know that when we take a job it needs to be a success at all costs. If that means we lose money going back to make a client happy, so be it. I have had that policy in place since 1993 and it’s been a recipe for success. For the two or three projects where we actually lost money, we got in return glowing referrals that spread like a wildfire.

Reply by Anna Unruh: As a sales exec, my job is customer satisfaction. I’m the beginning and the end point. If the customer is unhappy I am the one that gets the wrath. The hardest part of that is once the order leaves my hands with my directions, it is up to traffic and production to make sure my promises are kept. Production sometimes acts as though my promises to have ad approval before running and then revisions which follow, are erroneous. Sometimes they ignore my requests. Guess who takes the heat for that?

Reply by Rod Schwartz: Anna: You say, “The hardest part of that is once the order leaves my hands with my directions it is up to traffic, and production to make sure my promises are kept. Production sometimes acts as though my promises to have ad approval before running, and then revisions which follow are erroneous. Sometimes they ignore my requests.”

Where does your management stand on this issue? Reading between the lines, it appears that you’re not being given the authority (to manage client expectations) even though you’re expected to assume ultimate responsibility for client satisfaction. It’s management’s job to make sure there are no obstacles in the workflow that prevent you from doing your job, unless you’re not being held accountable for anything more than making the first sale.

Reply by Chris Rolando: Anna: Too often this is the case. It is not unlike the restaurant business where the cook (a salaried position) sets out a plate that is substandard, and tells the server (commissioned sales person basically) to “just serve it”. The cook still gets paid the same amount no matter the quality while the server makes a lousy tip over something they could not control.

I HAVE been on both sides so I have earned the right to speak on this:

1) As a rep it is your indispensable duty to yourself and your clients that you learn how to write GREAT copy.

2) As a rep it is your duty to reject any ad that is NOT perfect. When you are asking for a schedule that is the price of a new car, or for a customer who will over time spend the price of a house with you, THEY expect the best, so you DELIVER the best no matter whose feelings you hurt.

3) As a rep you need to get organized and stop riding around with the copy notes until Friday for a new Monday Start ad!

4) As a rep you need to be changing ideas and copy EVERY WEEK. It is YOUR job to keep it fresh and not just submit a weak ass copy order with “change it up” written across the top.

5) If you are a producer, remember that you do not always see everything that goes on and hear everything said.

6) If you are a producer, you need to give more time to producing great ads than just a rip/read, dub some music.

7) If you are a producer, you need to keep improving your skills, getting better, trying new things.

8) If you are a producer, remember that you chose the safe path, being inside the station. When you start feeling too cocky about the reps, get in the car with one and see what their day is like.

In the 70’s I wanted to be a DJ. I was a good producer. I just decided one day that I was not going to be pushed around by salespeople.... so I went over to the dark side. Remember that the engineer, the traffic manager and many other people can also say “without me it would not happen”. But the hard truth is without people who are willing to be creative and brave and go out there to be told no 8 times a day... the light bill does not get paid.

Chris Rolando: Former DJ, Production Director, Opps Director, Engineer, Traffic Manager, Station Manager, General Manager..... and now all of the above as a small market Pres..

Reply by Chris Rolando: A producer cannot possibly understand a rep unless they have spent some time in front of customers and on the street. They do not understand the urgency of getting it “just right” unless they have been in front of a customer and heard what the sound is in that person’s voice.

A sales rep cannot possibly understand what goes into producing a great ad unless they have sat in production with a producer. A sales rep needs to understand the skill producers have. In the old days it was all about cutting and splicing. Today it is about working in a multitrack digital world. That two voice ad with background restaurant and cell phone noise sounds simple to you. Try laying up 8 tracks to do that and find out the skill level needed to be a good producer.

What is needed by both sides is a clear understanding of each other’s job. Respect for the talents of the other person. And then a clear dialog between the two sides to get the best for the customer, and the best for the Radio company.

Reply by Stephen Jeffrey Duff: As a scarred sales veteran of internal disputes with the production staff at two different radio station groups, I wish I could get the production staff to listen to me when I tell them this:

“I do not wish to be a radio production person, even though I have done some production in the past, but I DO know something that you don’t. I have a better idea of what the advertiser wants his finished ad to SAY, how the advertiser wants his finished spot to SOUND... and what the advertiser wants his finished spot to ACCOMPLISH. I’m sorry, but only rarely does a member of the production staff accompany me when I’m meeting with an advertising client! So, when I tell you what the advertiser is looking for... what the client wants his/her spot to SAY, to SOUND like, and what he/she wants the ad spot to ACCOMPLISH... don’t send the client’s advertising message veering off into the Land of Psychedelic Radio Fantasy, PLEASE!!”

I don’t know why this request by me - the sales guy who has actually spoken with the client - has led to numerous disagreements with production guys. I need to be more polite, I suspect!

Reply by Big John Small: There is a reason we call it the “Creative Department” ;o)

I think communication is KEY!! If everyone knows where we’re going, we can all help to get there!

Reply by Sherwood “Duke” Brooks: That we get “beat up,” all day, every day, 24 days a week, 365 hours a day. We get beat up by the GSM, the LSM, the jocks and the prospects/customers/buyers. Our spouses beat us mercilessly and incessantly. Our pets disrespect us; our neighbors malign us perpetually. Jocks hate us, buyers think we’re thieves.

But, seriously, folks: A VERY GOOD producer will put as much effort into a spec spot as he or she will the finished on-air product. Such a professional will understand that a spec spot is even more important than an air-schedule spot, since getting a new customer on the air is the most important thing anyone in our industry can do. The best producer sees himself as a literal partner in the sales process (albeit a behind-the-scenes one) and understands that salesmanship (on my part) is only one factor in closing a deal. A superior producer will want to know as much about the prospect’s business as possible, and use all his experience in creating a message that will “speak” to the prospect and the prospect’s customers. A great producer will always be ready to make a change to help the sales rep, and will want to know whether the spot “worked” for the salesman. And a world-class producer will always know that the “product” we sell is NOT great commercials, it’s not “time,” it’s not “air...” it’s the attention and purchasing power of our audience.

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