Get OUT Of Your Comfort Zone

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on October 7, 2020


In a recent creative session with a sales team charged with selling a “Pride” channel, I noticed a lot of resistance to out of the box thinking and a general lack of excitement for selling the brand. The message I was getting from the team was that they’d tried everything, and it was impossible to sell it, it just wasn’t moving the needle for clients. That surprised me, since we know that many large corporations have specific allocated budgets for “Pride” and the LGBTQ+ community–Budweiser, Amazon, Uber, LinkedIn, Barclays etc. Not to mention small business owners who invest on a local level in the community, particularly those who identify themselves as members of LGBTQ+. To me it is an easy sell. The PD, who sat in on the meeting, sounded frustrated and communicated that his ideas were falling on deaf ears.

I have mentioned on more than one occession in this column that the days of being a one trick pony are over, and that sales is now a MAJOR part of the job for Talent and Programming. Especially now that most traditional forms of revenue are gone, or don’t move the needle anymore thanks to the pandemic.

This creative session reminded me of a time when I worked with a particularly challenged sales department and my Market Manager challenged me daily to come up with creative ideas for unique and exclusive sponsorship opportunities. My creative mind went to work in overdrive. I could have written a novel with the ideas I came up with, but sadly, nothing seemed to get the sales team excited about them. In their minds, it was just easier to “do what we’ve always done,” and to go to the same sources for revenue we have always gone to.

Think about the bad rap that a lot of talent and programmers have gotten over the years. The number one question being asked when anyone on the programming side interviews for a job is,” How do you work with the sales department?” The correct answer is (and you better be prepared to back it up) “Never say Never! I am not the kind of Programmer (or talent) that says ‘No!’ all the time. My job is to protect the integrity of the brand AND to make sure what we do as a brand actually benefits our clients. So, if we can’t do this, let me give you a few options and see if we can make one of them work for the brand, the sales rep and the client.”

What I am saying is, the expectation of Programmers and Talent are that they are to be in the sales business and open to being creative and innovative for the purpose of revenue. That being said, the sales team also needs to be open to new ideas as well, and not afraid of changing the way we do things to meet with the times. Some of the most creative people on your team will be in the Programming Department. So, if you are asking for ideas on how to blow away your clients, be open to their ideas and creativity, and build an exclusive package for your client around their ideas. Don’t be afraid to try new things and new methods of activation. The best thing you can do is tell talent they have a great idea. We’re most likely so desperate for a pat on the back that we’ll end up doing all the work for you and your client will be the one to benefit.

Our client’s expectations are so beyond what they used to be in the business, especially since the onset of the pandemic. Radio companies have no choice but to rely on new, non-traditional forms of revenue. Sure, it’s not the way we “always did it before.” But that is a good thing. We wasted too much time as an industry embracing the digital and social space for the purpose of revenue. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. We are being forced to be innovative and different NOW. Be open minded and push yourself out of your comfort zone courageously. Then sit back and enjoy the action (and one more month of hitting your budget).