40 Years, 40,000 Sales Calls

 In Blog

By Barry Drake

I met Barry Drake just after he rehired lightning rod personality Bruce Bond at the legendary WINK 104 Harrisburg, PA in 1993. Barry was the CEO of Keymarket Communications and later became CEO of Sinclair Television and Radio and then formed Backyard Broadcasting that grew to a 30 station radio group. Barry is now a sales consultant based in Jacksonville, FL.

Barry’s new book, 40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls is loaded with stories that illustrate how radio and advertising has changed over 40 years and how it has not changed today. You will see the correlation between talent that establishes and nurtures a relationship with their audience and how successful sales people do the same with clients.

40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls has a five star customer rating on Amazon and 100% of the net proceeds go to the Broadcaster’s Foundation of America to assist broadcasters who are in acute need. – Randy Lane

My intent in writing 40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls was to help those working in radio stations today. I wanted to show that from the time I began in radio full-time in 1973 and even back to when I was born (1951) and growing up the son of a radio/TV air-personality and a radio copywriter that technology has been ever-evolving, but the fundamentals of programming and sales have remained constant. By relaying stories from my own life and incorporating a history of media over a 40 year period I hoped to put today’s technological advances into perspective and put the spotlight on the basics.

In programming the path to success is, and always has been, the creation of relatable content and the building of a community, otherwise known as audience. The relationship between the personality and/or the station and its audience results in ratings. These ratings, be they quantitative, qualitative or both are used in the development of a station story to tell and sell advertising, the station’s sole source of revenue.

Sales works the same way. Build a community of advertisers based on the station’s being able to match up demographically with the clients’ customers. Then the station motivates the listeners to action; spending money at the client’s place of business. As the station salespeople become more proficient at delivering results to the clients the station grows in revenue and profitability.

Over a period of forty years and by having contact with advertisers in markets of all sizes, and businesses in all categories, I learned what clients really think about radio, and media in general, and I recount those lessons to once again demonstrate what has remained constant.

Today there is much talk about the advertiser’s desire to hold the media “accountable.” It is said that in this tight economy, with competition for the consumer’s dollar as tough as ever, the media must be able to deliver demonstrable results. After forty thousand calls, I have to laugh. Accountability is something new? One of my clients explained the facts of life to me early in my career.

I sat down with Norm Ishler of Ishler’s Furniture, one of my top three billing accounts, to put the finishing touches on the commercial copy for his upcoming summer clearance sale. Norm stopped me before I walked out the door and, in a soft but stern voice, told me, “Barry, these commercials have got to work.” I didn’t say a word. No time for cheap sales talk here. I just looked back into my client’s eyes, took his hand firmly, and said “thank you.” We understood each other perfectly. To successfully realize our self-interests, we depended on one another. That is what is meant by the term relationship.

The fact was the new fall merchandise was already on the way and set to be delivered in the next two weeks. Payment was due. The sale had to generate the cash to make those payments. It was important for me, as an advertising salesman, to get this message and know I was being held accountable. In true business relationships, accountability has always been the priority.

Now the buzz is “programmatic buying.” As I point out in the book, this discussion is a sideshow. It avoids the real questions and issues concerning radio’s perceived value among advertisers. In 40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls there is an examination of where radio stands today with CEO’s of major corporations, junior media buyers and top account people at advertising agencies, sole proprietors of businesses, and midlevel marketing officers. And what can be done to affect their perceptions and views. My opinions? Sure. But based on a lifetime of listening to what clients have to say and watching how they behave.

40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls available at www.amazon.com.

All net proceeds benefit the Broadcasters Foundation of America.

The Broadcasters Foundation does not subscribe or endorse the views expressed by the author.


Photo Credit: Alan Clark/Flickr

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