Pending Business: A New Year’s Lesson

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — I particularly enjoy this time of year because it’s when I usually reconnect with former associates all around the country. Sellers, managers, and on-air talent from South Florida to San Francisco who share the bond of having worked through one of the most challenging years in broadcast history checked-in with me. Those calls, texts and emails always include one “wow” moment that serves as a life lesson for all of us. Here’s one in particular that can serve as a motivator for all heading into the New Year.

Years ago, a seller, with no broadcast sales experience applied for a position on our team with just a few years of retail sales experience with an iconic newspaper. Flashback to when retail sales for a dominant daily newspaper was more about showing up and negotiating the annual line rates. With a commanding position in the market, a huge daily reach, and revenue figures that matched all the radio and TV stations combined, legendary department store chains, automobile dealers, and local retailers set their budgets by that newspaper’s rates. Selling technique was just not as important as service and contracting rates. And with that dominant market position came a sales territory structure that virtually capped a seller’s earnings.

The applicant presented a traditional resume, soft-spoken professional appearance but more service oriented and no real experience in competitive retail sales. But this applicant shared a humble background and a need to increase earnings to help support immediate and distant family members. So with limited sales experience, we broke all the traditional barriers and took a chance. Together we trained, role-played, planned, organized, cold called (remember those?) dissecting every experience.

Disaster struck. This seller showed up in my office in tears, ready to quit. The transition from every call being returned promptly to “not interested” was destroying the motivation to continue. The seller, looking at daily failure, was done with radio sales. We had the conversation that every seller hates, but is necessary: “Quit now and you will never know how talented you are, how good you can be.” Most managers would have recognized the fear and encouraged this seller to walk, but the seller made a sincere, renewed commitment. The turnaround was slow. We developed systems that allowed the seller to self-manage, measuring performance. Every day the seller followed our plan and sales improved.

In the 2021 COVID-impacted year, he was the top earner on his station’s sales team with commissions well into six figures. From those desperate tears to becoming the top earner takes perseverance and dedication that comes with a commitment to be as good as you can be.

Here’s wishing you a safe, successful, and Happy New Year!

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: