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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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« New Tricks | Main | Still Bloggin' »


Jeff Schmidt

you're not alone Fred -

from publishing 2.0


"When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that technology companies should take over the advertising industry. Nobody in Silicon Valley will win a Clio Award, but they will help clients get more than $1 back for every $1 of advertising they spend — and advertisers have always cared more about their bottom lines than Madison Avenue’s ego."

Jordan Guagliumi

This industry does practically nothing to recruit and develop young sales talent... these are the very individuals who are comfortable with and embrace digital products and content.

Imagine that you are a soon-to-be college graduate interested in media/communications and possibly sales. You read that Clear Channel (as part of a multi-billion dollar deal) is spending nothing and doing nothing -- to the extent that it doesn't even want to hire new sales people (the ones that generate the money) right now. Think you're gonna apply?

Bob Bellin

Radio does have a growing problem with sales, but I don’t think that’s triggering the revenue slide – simple delivery metrics are doing that. Radio’s top line slippage is very close in percentage to its delivery losses in key demos and that connection is more than coincidence.

Forcing radio’s priorities rather than reacting to client challenges (more fallout from less is more), lower comp, non competes, lack of training are all making matters worse – but the sad reality is that if radio offered more good sales training the sales people would probably not be allowed to implement much of it.

The best trainers advocate better prospecting that focuses on larger clients who can spend real money to address identified problems. They preach the use of valid business reasons for client contact and proposals that are tailored to client needs. Radio seems to be focused on pushing the agenda of the week, be it 30s, 10s, website banners, the volume of proposals in the field or the number of sales meetings held. Sales training doesn’t dovetail with those priorities.

FWIW, I’m not sure I agree that radio is racing toward digital product and content or that the page views for what’s available now are as robust as you suggest - but I think enhanced performance there would cure a lot of the current radio sales problems – the way that good ratings did back in the old days.

Better sales people with more training would be a wonderful investment that could help forestall the inevitable. But there’s no sales training that can overcome the revenue losses that are part and parcel to progressively dwindling audience delivery. Digital platforms that do more than pay lip-service to the concept…ones that offer content and community not available elsewhere will attract revenue and good sales people. Especially if they get good sales training and are allowed to use it!

Bob Harper


Thanks for dragging the elephant out of the basement and into the Living Room.

Since Day #1 of Consolidation, Radio's dirty little secret has been Pitiful Sales. Once guys like you and I started seeing Sales Managers in the Programming Research meetings you knew it wasn't working down the hall in the sales cubbies. Most of the Sales VPs were in our meeting to hedge their bets and do recon, less likely to learn how to sell the product more effectively or understand the station's target audience.

And, how many top-5 stations have you and I had to flip because we've been told, "...we just can't sell it." Translation: there are no avails for this demo coming over the fax machine -or- I had 2 sales calls today and both of them said 'no.'

Well, gosh, maybe that's why we call it "SALES," as in:
exerting effort and skill in moving a prospective client from 'no' to 'yes,' while matching the client's goals with the audience delivery of your radio station.

I think Peter Smyth is right; we need sales professionals, not order-takers, and not guys and gals who are rejects from the Geek Squad at Best Buy. But, I'm just a simple Programming fella who has been watching Sales Departments fake it for more than a decade.

And, one more thing: We may be standing at a once-in-a-career chance to get the Sales part of it right thanks to PPM. We woke up one morning with Radio a cume medium. Lots of paradigm-shifting and re-training will be necessary as the industry moves away from its almost total reliance on TSL and AQH. This might be just the right time to round up some really smart folks we can start on the right foot from PPM, Day #1.

Thanks for shining the spotlight on this one, Fred.

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