Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Not WHAT, it's WHO that Makes the Difference

When I fall, I fall hard. Mrs. Shellings (my third grade teacher), Mandy (guess who) and my first media sales job, are apt examples. That first job was at WINS, a few years after it changed format to all news (prior format, anyone?). At the time it was far and away the number one ranked radio station in New York. It was always underpriced back then as evidenced by the fact that it was always sold out. It was no different the week I started. No inventory was available; before midnight that is. By the end of my second week overnights were sold out as well and a love affair that has only grown over time was begun.

Partnering with a marketing savvy owner of a small ad agency, headquartered in Flushing, New York, above JC's pool hall, we strategized a plan for an association of retailers he represented. We rotated three of their dozen or so member chains three or four times an hour, six hours a day, seven days a week. The association was a household name in short order and the campaign ran for years. I imagine that it worked for the member chains, whose businesses it must have been growing. The feeling of potency that success bred was palpable. My first client was better off for having met me and was vocal in his gratitude. My sales manager was delighted, as was my landlord, and I faced each new day enthralled with the prospects that it held.

Before very long I was approached by the 20th or so ranked station asking me if I'd be interested in talking about a change. My interest was sparked when he answered the question about their account executive commission plan. It was high. I was in. (We'll talk about the concept of loyalty between employers and employees another time).

I have to admit I did that one more time after a brief stint at my second station when I was offered a still higher commission plan. This time I would be joining one of the absolutely lowest ranked stations in New York radio. Here's why I made the move. THE PRODUCT, RADIO, WORKED. It ALWAYS WORKED if it is bought, sold and is used correctly.

So any station can grow businesses if the account executive understands his product and cares enough about his client to struggle to identify the opportunity for the client and a creative approach for solving it.

I decided then and believe with even more conviction today, that it is how much responsibility the salesman is willing to take for identifying prospects that can be helped by his product, and how passionate he is to do all the work that will position him to help, that will determine his degree of success. Neither the ranking of his station (in the case of broadcast) nor the reviews of JD Powers in other sectors, is at play. It's only all about you!

Isn't that wonderful news?

Great Selling!

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