Do We Walk The Talk?

Selling Radio Direct with Pat Bryson

What does “service” really mean?

Several years ago, I was having dinner with a friend of mine who owned ROI Media which was a buying service that placed millions of dollars in radio and TV advertising every year. We were discussing his relationships with the account reps he worked with in media. Les expressed his displeasure with the type and quality of service he received from the people with whom he dealt. Remember that this gentleman spent MILLIONS every year!

He recounted a story having spent two weeks trying to place thousands of dollars worth of radio advertising. When he called the stations, he was greeted by voice mail. He left messages, but received NO CALL BACKS! When he did manage to reach a real, live person, he was told that they could not give out the cell number of the Account Executive he was trying to reach. He was frustrated, and these stations missed dollars! Lots and lots of dollars! Now, granted, he was trying to place the buys during a holiday period, but so what? We are in the service business (or think we are!). Whether it is a holiday or we are on vacation, our clients need to be taken care of. We complain that business is down, that clients cut back. Are we sure WE are not contributing to the downturn? Are we taking very good care of our clients? Are we accessible?

Check list for your organisation:

  1. When someone calls, whom do they reach? A machine? If so, how often is the machine checked?
  2. If a live person answers the phone (hallelujah!) does he or she do so by the third ring?
  3. Do you have a policy of returning calls within 1 hour?
  4. How often are your salespeople checking their voicemail? Can their voicemail be forwarded to their cell phones?
  5. How often are salespeople required to check email?
  6. Are “out of office” messages programmed into email if a salesperson is out of the office for any extended time? Does it contain the contact information for someone who can assist the client?
  7. Do you have a “buddy” system to take care of clients when a staff member is on vacation or ill?
  8. Before a AE leaves on vacation, do you have a policy of notifying all of their active clients of their away dates, including the contact name and information of someone who can help them during the AE’s absence?
  9. Do your business cards contain cell phone information for salespeople?
  10. Do your clients have a list of all staff members who may be of service to them should their AE be unavailable? General manager, sales manager, traffic manager, business manager, production manager? Does this list contain off-hours’ contact information?

When was the last time you received excellent service? I bet you remember it clearly because it is such a rare occurrence in today’s world. We cannot afford to give less than excellent service. Being responsive to our clients’ needs is the first step in retaining business. And being responsive means being timely in answering and returning calls and email. We are not in an 8 to 5 business.

This conversation with Les occurred a few years ago. I believed we as an industry were getting better, offering better service. Then I had a conversation with a friend of mine who runs a station in a small market in Illinois. She had received a $4000 order from an agency who HAD to place this grant money in a short time frame. My friend got the entire amount because the stations across the street had not returned the agency’s phone calls for two days. (Sigh!)

Lesson learned: Go the extra mile! Be accessible! Be responsive! There are no traffic jams on the extra mile, but there are lots of dollars!

Happy Selling!

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