AE's: A "key" component for good radio


I really love my job and believe that radio is a powerful vehicle that delivers results for our clients.  Over the past 25 years I have worked with hundreds of Account Executives from all over the country to implement radio programs and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Working with the Account Executives is one of the best parts of my jobs (most times (smile) and a good Account Executive is “key” to the process.  I like to think of my relationships with my A/Es as a partnership – in which we both have a vested interest in the success of the programs we create. I help our A/Es facilitate their sales process by helping them meet the planners and account teams so that, together, we can help grow the business.

I, especially, enjoy helping young A/Es get started on their careers.  Whenever I speak at the sales training programs these are words of advice that I generally offer to help them on their road to success. Maybe they can help you, too.

One – first, and foremost, – ATTITUDE – it’s extremely important to have a positive attitude.  It impacts the manner in which you conduct yourself and the manner in which people will respond to you, as well. When was the last time you checked your attitude?

Two – don’t get discouraged.  As an A/E you have to learn how to handle rejection – its part of the territory.  Many times it’s nothing you said or did – it’s just a plan fact that there was a limited budget and your station just wasn’t right for the buy.  For example: you represent an Alternative Rock station with a male 18-34 audience base and the buying target was W25-49.  Know which battles to fight and you’ll be a happier, more successful A/E.  But – take the time to find a “lesson learned” from each rejection.

Three – think of yourself as an Account Executive – rather than a “rep” – an Account Executive has a much more powerful profile. An Account Executive doesn’t just “represent” a station – they know how to build marketing solutions for their clients. Come on………go ahead – say it…..”I’m an Account Executive” – doesn’t that sound great!  I can see your chest expanding with pride!

Four – sell in the medium first before you try to sell them a package or a promotion.  You must first get the client to believe in the power of radio.  If they don’t believe that radio can deliver results you won’t be able to get them to buy anything from you.

Five – remember that radio is the flexible medium that can be shaped to meet our client’s needs.  It’s the only medium that can respond to the call of immediacy and be on air in as quickly 24 hours.  It’s efficient and through the power of the message – we can move people to action.

Six – understand the processes of how each agency works.  Every shop is different and you must understand the processes at each of the agencies that you are assigned to.

Seven – understand the “players” within the agencies you call on.  Is the buyer just the buyer or is he/she the planner also? Who’s the planner, the clients, the Account team?  In large agencies – all of these “players” may be essential to the buying process of “selling in” a promotional concept or package.

Eight – keep your eye on the day to day transactional business but don’t forget that long term developmental selling is crucial to the sales process also. Make sure you spend time meeting, and developing relationships with the planners and account teams and even the clients (when you can). Developmental sales is what will keep new business and repeat business coming through the pipeline.

Nine – when you meet your buyer – determine their experience level – this will help you understand how much “pre-sell” that you may need to do. Understanding how long they have bought the market will also help you gauge how much additional information about your station that you may have to send along with the pricing package that they have asked for.

Ten – make sure you give the buyer what he/she asks for.  Deliver a schedule exactly to the specs outlined in the avail and then provide a second option if you need / want to for efficiencies or more dollars. But always –give them what they ask for.

Eleven – establish the best method of communication (phone, e-mail, fax, IM, etc) for each buyer that you call on.  Everyone is different and one method may not serve each of our buyers/clients.

Twelve – remember “service is key” – and when a buyer / client or account manager needs something – you want them to think of you first.  If you provide them with the best service – they WILL think of you first.

Thirteen – always be on the “ready” with some quick ideas so when you get a call from someone saying…..”Hey, I need a quick idea for a promotion for a new product that we’re launching next month” – you’ll have an answer ready.  Don’t tell them you need to speak to your promotions group that only meets once a week on Tuesdays and you’ll get back to them a week from today. (Duh!!)  If they say the product is launching in 6 months – then you can get away with that type of response.   When they need something “quickly” – think of something that you or some else has done at your station that can re-customized to fit their needs.  It may not be the final promotion that ends up on air but at least you’ll develop a reputation as a “go to person” when your clients need something.

Fourteen – continue to educate yourself about the industry.  Subscribe to newsletters, attend lectures, volunteer for committees, learn about every new technology that is in development that will affect your business, teach others and share ideas.

Fifteen – be persistent – BUT – be professional, be polite and take joy in what you do. If you believe in what you sell and take pride in yourself as an Account Executive you WILL be a success.
Remember, as an A/E you ARE a “key” part of the process and developing good sales skills will help you build partnerships with your buyers and your clients. Are you up for the challenge?

Kim Vasey
Sr. VP / Director of Radio