How To Structure Your Radio Station's Sales Staff For The Digital Age
September 13, 2016
Radio stations have been generating sales leads using the same methodology for decades: prospecting. Prospecting involves monitoring other local media outlets to see which companies are advertising there, then trying to persuade those advertisers to switch to your station.
This is like Ronald McDonald standing at the end of the KFC drive-thru and yelling to each car that exits, "Next time you could get a Happy Meal!" The problem with prospecting is that the advertisers have already spent their money, and you must now tell them that they spent it incorrectly.
There's a better way to generate sales leads.
It’s called a Content Marketing strategy. This short video shows you how it works:
For a more detailed explanation, you can watch this recorded webinar.
To properly execute this type of lead generation campaign, you're going to need to rethink the way your sales staff is structured. Today, many radio stations have a Sales Manager, with a team of Account Executives, and perhaps a Marketing Coordinator or Sales Assistant in the department. This staffing structure will not enable you to take advantage of a Content Marketing strategy. Radio stations should look to companies in other industries, particularly those in Silicon Valley, for inspiration.
To use a Content Marketing strategy to generate sales leads, here are the roles you will need to fill:
Sales Manager: This is the person who is responsible for making sure that everything happens.
Account Executives: Just as they do in today’s status quo, radio station AEs are responsible for closing deals through face-to-face meetings or over-the-phone interaction with clients. The big difference in a Content Marketing strategy is that the AEs are no longer responsible for generating leads through prospecting. This is a recognition that lead generation is marketing, while closing deals is sales.
They are two fundamentally different skillsets, and people who are good at one may not be good at the other. If you have salespeople who are good at interacting with clients and closing deals, you'll want them to spend all of their time focused on pursuing leads that have already been qualified, and no time qualifying those leads (until a potential customers are qualified as leads, they are called "prospects").
Sales Content Manager: This person is responsible for creating content that attracts potential clients: blogposts, webinars, white papers, even events. This content will be used not only to capture contact info from potential clients, but also in the Lead Nurturing email campaign that will be sent to these prospects. Here's a guide that will show you how to create content to generate sales leads.
Lead Generation Agent: Once a prospect fills out an online form to access a piece of content created by the Sales Content Manager, they will be placed into a Lead Nurturing campaign. This is an automated email campaign that drips out more content over time.
For example, if somebody attends a webinar on "How to Understand Radio Ratings," they might then receive an email three weeks later with a link to a "Guide to Writing Great Radio Copy." A month later, they might receive another email with a link to a list of "10 Questions You Should Ask Your Salesperson," and so on.
Prospects will be scored based on which content they access. If somebody downloads a piece of content that suggests they are close to placing an ad buy (such as the list of questions to ask a salesperson), they will score more points than if they download a piece of content that indicates they are in the early stages of the buying process. The prospects never see their scores; only the sales team does.
When a prospect has scored enough points, they become a "Marketing Qualified Lead." In short, this means that your computer software is telling you that this prospect is ready to be called on by an Account Executive. But computer software is fallible, so it’s best to have a Lead Generation Agent who calls on the prospect first to see if the software is correct.
If the prospect is ready for a sales call, an appointment with the AE is scheduled. If not, your station continues to engage them through the Lead Nurturing campaign. In other words, the job of the Lead Generation Agent is to discern which prospects are actually leads. Put another way, they turn Marketing (software) Qualified Leads into Sales Qualified Leads.
The Lead Generation Agent is an entry-level position that teaches people to interact with clients; these are your future Account Executives.
Software Administrator: Finally, you're going to need somebody to set up and monitor software systems used to execute this lead generations strategy. You will probably want to use Marketing Automation Software (such as Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, or others) and Customer Relationship Management software (such as Salesforce or Highrise).
You may also need an email service provider, a webinar hosting platform, and other tools. The job of the Software Administrator is to set up these tools so they play nicely with each other and to keep everything humming. It is helpful if this person has a solid grasp on the lead generation strategy.
Radio stations could learn a lot by looking at how Silicon Valley companies generate sales leads. But to properly execute a lead generation plan, you'll need to rethink more than just your station's strategy and software; you'll also need to rethink the structure of the sales staff.