Programming To Sell By Andy Meadows

Every group struggles to balance the push and pull between the programming and sales departments. Sales gets frustrated by programming throwing last minute ideas at them with too short of a ramp up period to properly sell them and programming feels like sales doesn’t support their creative efforts. That’s part of the reason as a consultant I prefer to work with both departments, because working with only one of them really limits how far you can truly move the needle for a radio group. 

Here are a few simple steps we can take as programmers to make our sales colleague’s jobs of underwriting our ideas easier to accomplish: 

1) Don’t be married to our ideas. If it helps sales to adjust the name slightly to better fit a sponsor then we should change the name. If adjusting the methodology or timeline helps to accommodate a client, then we should be flexible. I’ve seen so many book promotions die in a conference room because programmer’s stuck to their guns, often over minor adjustments. 

2) Get sales feedback early in the process. Because there are so many moving parts in programming, many of us have gotten in the habit of completely flushing out one hundred percent of the details before presenting to sales a full, turn-key concept. In some situations we might find success with that approach, but in most I’ve been involved in it helps immensely if we get feedback from sales along the way. Besides the fact that this approach makes it more likely for them to be excited about it and pitch it, it will also make it more effective on the programming side. I’m a best idea wins guy so the more people that weigh in, the more that compounds the potential for great ideas. 

3) Take the initiative to project manage. Collaboration is great, but management by committee doesn’t work. Someone has to step up and make the call on a multitude of details, names, times, graphics, etc, before it gets on-air. If its not clear that programming and operations are doing that then sales managers and GMs will certainly fill the void. 

4) Most importantly, follow through. Once sales and management lose faith in the programming department’s ability to deliver on what they say they’re going to do, it’s incredibly hard to win it back. I get that sometimes people draw drastic conclusions based on something a client may or may not have heard when they tuned in at the time they thought they were supposed to listen. But, if programming is consistently delivering on its promises than we’ll weather those small flurries and be better prepared to handle the blizzard when things truly do break down. 

From a sales stand-point, we know that sales is under enormous pressure, especially right now with revenues still down across the board. Its easy to look across the aisle and think that the on-air talent and the PDs have the ‘fun jobs’, but those fun jobs quite often come with long hours, capped compensation and the pressure of creating content every hour of every day for what seems like the remainder of our lives. If we work together we can create compelling programming, promotions and digital content that simultaneously drives ratings and revenue. Conversely, if we go to our corners and work independently, both will suffer.

Pic by jcomp for

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