Strategies for Success in Radio Sales

Gerry Tabio is a renowned media consultant, and founder and President of Creative Resources, a company he has operated for more than 25 years. At the 2015 National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, Tabio hosted a session titled, “7 Ways to Leverage Clients Needs Analysis for Radio Success.”

Gerry TabioTabio began his speech, by joking that he has “been around the media industry since the dinosaurs roamed Earth,” and that he has spent the last 30 years of his career working with salespeople and sales managers, primarily in radio. Tabio maintains a phenomenal stage presence, and it was clear to me that this man knew his stuff.

Early in his forty-minute opus Tabio hyped a best-selling publication from the Harvard Business Review, originally published in 1960, titled ‘Marketing Myopia’ by Theodore Levitt. Tabio gushed to the audience that Levitt’s grasp of marketing was timeless, and his ideas were very much relevant today.

“Earlier, someone asked, is the customer needs analysis changing? Yeah. The customer needs analysis has to change…The fundamental question here is, if we’re going to talk about the customer needs analysis, why are we doing one? To solve a problem and make a sale.”

The reason I attended Tabio’s session was to improve my craft of CNA’s, and to pick up any other useful marketing or sales tips. But Tabio also talked about the evils of programmatic advertising.

“People can buy your station without talking to You. And that’s becoming increasingly clear. As a matter of fact, we just got a double-barrelled announcement — right? Programmatic has arrived in radio. In a very big way! So here’s the thing; people don’t have to talk to you to buy a schedule on your station. As a matter of fact, it will be like Amazon. You will be doing business with Amazon — trust me. Amazon will be one of the owners of the programmatic companies. And your inventory will be for sale on Amazon. And you know what guys? I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, and I don’t remember the last time I did a needs analysis with an Amazon representative.”

If that block of quote from Tabio isn’t a microphone drop in the world of radio sales presentations, then I don’t know left from right.

Tabio also denounced the relevance of doing a CNA at all given programmatic’s emergence:

“Imagine I get a call from Amazon and they want to do a needs analysis on my music tastes. I’d go, I’m good… They’re eclectic. Two days ago I bought rap, last night I bought some Sinatra. And you know what, I just go to (the mall/iTunes) and I buy it. I don’t need to talk to you.”

Finally, Tabio explained himself plainly:

“If a client can buy a schedule without talking to one of your people, then, what’s the purpose of a needs analysis?”

Interestingly enough, what happened after all this bashing of CNA’s was a thoughtful approach to CNA’s—they are about selling, and growing with clients.

“The purpose of your business is to create, and keep, customers. And to do that, you have to do things that make people WANT to do business with you. And my favorite part, the one that brought me to a screeching halt is, all other truths on this subject are derivative. You ask me a question, you tell me about your organization, whatever it is that we’re going to talk about, brings you back to those two truths. And I’m going to take a big risk here, because I have my own point of view, and I’m just going to change one word. I’m going to have the arrogance to change Theodore Levitt’s words, because there’s a word that’s very important to me. Look at the word KEEP. I think it’s the purpose of a business to create and GROW (not keep) a customer. And to do that, you have to make sure that you are doing things that are going to make those clients want to do business with you. Be eager to do business with you.”

Funny thing is, there was not a whole lot (if any) explanation as to what thing(s) can be done to cultivate a relationship with a sales prospect that provokes that ‘want’ to do business with you, the salesperson. The blame for this does not lie entirely on Tabio, however. This 45-minute session it was one of the shortest at the NAB Show. But why? I bet I speak for everyone in the room when I say I wanted—more importantly, needed—another 45 minutes of Tabio.

QUOTES (Other notable Gerry Tabio quotes)

“Sometimes you do not get access to a client because you act like a vendor. You’ve got to act like you’re part of their company.”
“You’re constantly thinking about opportunities they have, and you go to their locations, and you see what they’re doing, you read their websites, and subscribe to a google alert about their company.”


Cole Bair

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