Industry Views

Pending Business: Calendar Secrets

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imThis column should really be called, “How I got transferred from Buffalo to Tampa.” The storyline will help explain the title and offer you a proven technique that should help you sell and earn more.

Before Zoom, Teams and other video conference platforms that drive today’s daily to-dos, sales teams worked hard to fill the day with “in-person” sales calls. Back then, most managers forgot, or did not account for how weather impacted the number, geography and quality of those money making in-person sales calls, until blizzards, hurricanes and mother nature took her toll on productivity. Those of you who work or have worked in northern markets like Buffalo know all too well what 8 to 12 inches of snow can do to a daily plan. The same holds true for southern markets that experience hurricanes that have devastated communities going back to the hurricanes that nearly destroyed Miami and New Orleans. Now it seems wildfires are becoming a more regular threat in western markets. Having experienced most of the worst, like it or not, weather is an unpredictable yet critical variable in your sales plan.

One of the most destructive blizzards in history hit Buffalo during my first year as a young general manager. Retail contract cancellations, stranded employees, and off-the-air due to frozen antennas were draining revenues. It was December and the calendar was winning. After the ice melted and the snowplows cleared the way, we packaged everything we could before year-end to try and salvage the pacing that was leading to a bonus. The calendar won, annual bonus gone, but the learning curve kicked in.

B.G. (before Google) any research had to be accomplished old school: calls, friends, articles, and experts. We determined the average number of weather impact days, just like the guys in the theme park business. We developed a “real world” budget that accounted for weather days, the accompanying limited staffing, and a set aside percentage of revenues for cancellations.

When we began the year, the “real world” budget was put in place. By November of that year, the radio station had achieved its revenue goal for the full calendar year. The day before Thanksgiving I was summoned to the corporate office and was handed a file with a one-way ticket to Tampa, Florida. Goodbye blizzards, hello hurricanes. As a young manager, the sun was much more inviting than the snow, and I am still in Florida.

The discipline of a sales or planning calendar accompanied by “what if” is a must have.

Oh yes, make sure that pencil has an eraser.

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:

Industry News

Pending Business: Attracting New Recruits

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Ask any sales manager what the #1 challenge they face is and nine times out of 10 the surprise answer is not “more business.” Generating more business takes a well-oiled machine that starts and ends with a focused, well-trained sales team. And therein lies the challenge question I hear every week. “Where can I find more good salespeople?”

With all the sophisticated technology available today – from Zoom and Teams to data mining and social media – it is hard to comprehend why any viable radio station would have difficulty recruiting “good salespeople.” I rarely faced that challenge in any of the markets where I worked. No matter what the ownership structure or market size – from Buffalo to San Francisco – recruiting and retaining “good salespeople” was only an occasional problem.

If you are a manager at any level, in any market, responsible for recruiting and training “good salespeople,” you may never view the task the same way again if you follow these six simple steps:

1)         Recruitment should always be on your “To Do” list. Always, period, the end. Like the sun rises every morning, recruitment is a regular part of your day.

2)         Times are changing, build your bench. If your sales team is a mix of generations, any given team member may decide to move on for reasons you may not understand. Be prepared. Turnover happens, don’t be ambushed.

3)         Do you have a written profile of the ideal candidate for sales? Sound crazy? Try it right now. What are the three must-have qualities of every successful seller on your team? Those qualities may now be changing with newer digital, social media, and programming changes.

4)         Is your compensation structure competitive? This is one of my favorites. Depending on ownership you may or may not have the degree of flexibility you want. However, you may find a friendlier structure through performance incentives.

5)         Would you trust members of your current team to interview a candidate? I used the technique often over 15 years. Sometimes the culture in your sales department is unique or you may feature team performance incentives. The power of teams is a proven winner in most businesses.

6)         Are you plugged in to the new-think of today’s entry-level seller? Here are some current facts that may change your view of recruiting younger sellers:

   a) A study at the University of Chicago showed 56% of Americans think a college degree is not worth the money. Wow, is that different from most job postings!

b) As job markets become unpredictable, 97% of graduating seniors are open to alternative careers, as in not their major, this according to a study by iCIMS.

Finding “good salespeople” should never be viewed as a management headache. Once you make the commitment, the next great seller could be your next interview.

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: Steve Lapa will be moderating the “Generating Revenue” panel at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University.

Industry Views

Pending Business: AI Meets Sales

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Talk radio - PodcastHave you picked up the most recent buzz around Artificial Intelligence? It’s hard to miss it.

Seems like the AI buzz is getting louder as more companies face the pressure to improve efficiency and profitability during this roller coaster economy. From Silicon Valley’s tens of thousands of layoffs to Steak ‘n’ Shake closing 30 locations, the heat is on.

Companies vested in the terrestrial radio business have known this pressure for years as we function in a world of single-digit growth and AM radio stations going dark as the real estate is worth more than the FCC license. For the first time, some of the players on the podcast side are feeling the financial heat as the congested podcast world fights for highly competitive ad dollars.

How can AI be a resource in the broadcast radio and podcast ad sales world? Here are two examples of what could be around the corner on your next sales email, Zoom or from the office phone pitch.

— AI audio/phone recognition. Imagine software tracking your phone pitch or Zoom call collecting phrases that identify rate objections, efficiency objections, competitive objections, talent objections, even content objections. Management teams skilled in reviewing the “phrase data” analyze everything from the number of times the objection is raised to the category or tenure of advertiser raising the objection(s). Fast forward to solutions. If your team is made up of multiple sellers with various levels of experience and similar objection(s) appear frequently, management responses and adjustments happen faster, with less stress as the numbers tell the story, not the seller in a confessional. Those adjustments appear in coaching bubbles on your screen as you engage.

— AI shows us the phrase that pays. By now you should know many of the key words and phrases that are sales friendly, grab attention and move you to a close. As well as the opposite – those dreaded turn-off words that turn a warm conversation into stone-cold ghosting. What if the AI software interfaces with your emails? AI could be programmed to identify the key phrases that help close a deal as well as those that are deal busters. I once attended a sales seminar that coached away from using the word “contract.” Not a good takeaway for me. All I could imagine was the legal team slapping their foreheads.

Something tells me the AI software discussed already exists working in the field somewhere helping a sales team become more efficient and crushing the earnings barrier. It’s only a question of when our radio/audio world will be smart enough to adapt the tools for a smarter sales path.

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: