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The Creative Sales Call

Posted on July 31, 2003 and read 6,760 times

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When I became a Radio writer, one of my first assignments was to go on a sales call. It actually surprised me that I’d be given such an important task right out of the gate. However, I soon discovered that I would attend all sales calls whenever the Creative Director was “too busy” (which was always – unless the account happened to be a restaurant). But, that was fine by me. I leapt at the chance to ride shotgun with the sales reps. On the way, we’d discuss the client’s history, advertising direction and potential future with the station. We’d talk sales strategies, advertising philosophy, and on a personal level, I could sit back and enjoy the differing features of various luxury cars. It’s all good.

I didn’t realize it at the time but there was another, far more tangible benefit: Spending quality time with sales reps allowed me to get to know each one of them a little better. I got to know their likes and dislikes so I could shape my scripts to suit their individual comfort zones. Some reps had very rigid expectations that never wavered. With others, I could throw practically anything at them and if they liked the concept, they’d convince the client to go with it. Before a client ever saw my script, I made sure it would pass muster with the person who knew their client best – the sales rep.

We all play one role at the office and another role outside. With sales reps, I found the contrast particularly striking. Some of the most straight-laced sales people turned out to be an absolute riot when you got them away from the office. Conversely, the wacky “class clown” type could turn into a no-nonsense selling machine when faced with a skeptical or difficult client. I got to see first-hand the challenges, triumphs, and bitter disappointments involved in Radio sales…and what an eye-opener. Watching sales reps perform in their element gave me a deep appreciation for the challenging part they play in the industry.

I believe that taking a writer on sales calls is useful for several reasons. It ensures the creative message will get discussed along with “the numbers”. It also makes writing a script easier when you’ve seen a client’s location and spoken to them face to face. For me though, the real benefit was “team building”. After a sales call, I felt more connected to the rep so when they came flying in with a last minute request, I could empathize. Having walked at least a few paces in their shoes gave me a deeper respect for those thick-skinned powerhouses. (Not to mention, it gave me an even greater appreciation of the relative safety of my creative office.)

Wray Ellis is Director of Creative Services at the Radio Marketing Bureau




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