Don’t wait until your best account executive gives notice to look for a replacement. Scouting for the best sellers in your market should be a regular part of your job so you know where they are when you need them. And don’t limit yourself to account execs at other stations. Great sellers are everywhere, maybe even in the local high school.
Broadcasters have traditionally hired sales people in a reactive rather proactive manner, but that won’t bring you the results it may have in the past. There is too much competition for quality talent.
And thinking you can raid stations when you need help is not the solution either as more and more account executives have non-competes limiting where and when they can join other stations.
So you should put as much thought and effort into who and how you hire as they do in targeting and pursuing new accounts. You should have a strategy in place on who to target and what it will take to attract, hire and then train them to be successful. It doesn’t matter if you are in a smaller market with a limited labor pool or a larger market that has numerous job seekers coming to you. It is still a challenge to identify and hire super-sellers.
You should look for people outside of the station business who have similar skills such as developing new business, relationship building, negotiating, creative thinking. Such skills are easily transferrable with some lessons in advertising and TV jargon.
You need to look especially for people in businesses that require the sellers to build a book of business and to be highly goal driven.
Retail store managers are worth considering since they usually have monthly quotas and often would love to give up working nights and weekends.
Other fields that can produce great sellers include insurance, hospitality, real estate, office supply, pharmaceutical, beverages and even education (teachers and coaches).
If you are at the group level, you should have an established plan of action with guidance and accountability in place because most local managers do not actively scout and recruit new talent.
You should request that managers build a list of potential companies in each community where good sellers may be found. The most important part of building a stellar team is having a pipeline of potential hires at all times.
Here are few more pointers:
Don’t forget businesses that have sellers out on the road as most of those would jump at the chance to work where they live and not travel as much.
With the list, start reaching out through word of mouth, introductions or cold calling. LinkedIn can be a helpful resource for finding sellers in your ZIP codes. Attend different types of networking events to meet a larger variety of people in the community.
Ask your clients for names of people that call on them —, not just the media buyers, but the operations team — to find sellers outside of media. Consider adding a referral program that is easy to win and allow employers or others outside of the company to earn a bonus for an introduction.
Be prepared to build a relationship with these targeted candidates. These super sellers may need to be “sold” on your opportunity so it is a good idea to have a list of the benefits of working for you, your company and your station.
Keep in mind, these are not job seekers, but passive candidates, who need to be treated differently than those who would jumped through hoops to work for you.
Don’t expect them to call and ask for the job. Think about when your sellers have a proposal in front of a client, do they just wait for the client to return their call? No way! They need to check in, see where things stand, see what challenges need to be overcome and often go through several negotiations before they sale is compete. This is the same in selling a passive candidate.
Don’t be frustrated if they don’t join you right away. You may have to focus on building a relationship with them before they are ready to make the leap.
Laurie Kahn is founder and CEO of Media Staffing Network. She can be reached at [email protected] or 480-306-8930