SalesManSeveral station managers are mentioning that they are receiving a large number of commercial radio salespeople contacting them about coming to work for their listener-supported stations. We've seen both success and failure from stations hiring commercial radio salespeople so make sure the job and the candidate are a good fit.

We recommend that you write down how you will judge the success of the candidate six months from now. (In fact, Advocace's consulting division has a complete recruitment training program called RIGHT-Coach that you might find good for this--ok, shameless plug over.)

With questions like these 10 you might discover whether the prospective representative could be a good fit for your station.

  1. How many new accounts did you add to your business on the books on a typical month? (You want to hear that the prospect generated new business every month from 3 or more new accounts.)

  2. How long had you been at your previous station? (If the rep had been there more than 3 years, then he/she may have received a lot of accounts inherited by the departure of other reps rather than by new business development.)

  3. How often did you write copy for your accounts? (If you expect the rep to gather information for or write on-air copy from the account, make sure you determine that the prospect has a good feel for what they need to do. Don't worry about the non-commercial regulations--they will probably need coaching on underwriting restrictions.)

  4. What did you enjoy more: Calling on advertising agencies or direct accounts? (Listener supported stations usually receive more money from direct accounts--and direct accounts are a lot different for representatives to handle.)

  5. What would be the first 10 prospects you would call if you worked for our station? (You want to determine if the accounts are too big to quickly commit to underwriting rather than advertising. Also, listen to see if the account is suitable for your station.)

  6. What is your favorite part of the advertising sales process: prospecting, understanding the client's need, building the relationship, presenting your proposal, negotiation, gaining agreement or servicing? (If the candidate says 'building the relationship' or 'servicing', beware that they may be a professional visitor--not necessarily a person who will bring in the volume of new business you desire for your station. If they say 'negotiation', they better be real strong with direct accounts to help your station.)

  7. How high did your last station rank in key demographics? (If the station is a highly ranked station, the rep typcially focuses on negotiation with ad agencies more than prospecting new direct business. You really probably need a new business generator.)

  8. What was your billing last year? (Check to see if the number seems successful for your market.)

  9. What do you think you could bill on our station this year? (The prospect should ask about rates and then give you an estimate. This will likely be too high. Most representatives underestimate the differences between selling advertising and developing a book of underwriting.)

  10. After you speak with your first 10 or 20 account prospects, how many calls per day will you make on new business prospects? (Generally, you're wanting to hear a number between 10 and 20 new business prospects per day.)