The Essential Prospecting Checklist

The Checklist Every Underwriting Team Should Be Using

I have received several calls and texts from other sales leaders in our industry asking if we, at Moody Radio Network, have seen a significant loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I almost feel bad answering this question because the truth is, we have not.  Let me be clear on what I’m saying.  We have lost less than 4% of our “On the Books” revenue because of the pandemic. The reply I receive EVERY TIME is, “What? Wow that’s really good, but how?” My answer first and foremost is because of God!  Then my second answer is, “Because we prospect the correct way.”  What?  How do you prospect the right way? What does that even mean?

Below required checklist that is discussed with every partnership.

 

Every Partnership Must Utilize The “WIN-WIN-WIN Philosophy.” 

  1. The Listener Must Win

We are allowing businesses and non-profits on the air that our listeners can do business with or interact with and feel like they are dealing with an extension of our radio station.

This creates a winning experience for the listener as we share with them safe places to do business.

 

  1. The Partner Must Win

This means we must give them the best customer service experience ever!

Did we answer the phone on the first two rings?  If they left a voicemail did we return the call within 24 hours?  Were we consultants to them or an order taker?  Did we set expectations on when the phone would ring or if it would ring at all?

This creates a winning situation for the partner as we have given them excellent customer service. We have acted as consultants by helping them craft a campaign based upon our years of experience and proven results. And lastly, we have given them clear expectations on what to expect regarding listeners calling their business.

 

  1. Our Station Must Win

A natural byproduct of the first two happening at the same time is that your station will naturally win.

If the listener is winning and the business partner is winning this creates a winning situation for the station!  It’s that simple.

We believe so much in the WIN-WIN-WIN philosophy that we have adopted it as a part of our departments core values.  We have even had to make some hard decisions regarding accepting new business as we filter new partners through this philosophy. As a result, we find that we are consistently successful.

 

The Prospect Must Be Christian or Use Biblical Principles

Here’s where some people struggle.  They want a perfect euphoria where we do all our business in little Christian bunny rabbit holes and never really get out of those circles.  One day I really stopped and took time to think this through.  You know our listeners go to restaurants and stores that are owned and operated by unsaved folks.  And, while YES! We would love to give our hard-earned dollars to a fellow believer, the reality is it is not always possible.  If I can do business with an unbeliever and to be salt and light in their dark world then I’m going to it every time.  You know that prospect or new underwriter is going to listen to your station to hear their spot. How many gospel presentations is that person going to hear while listening?  It had better be a lot if we’re doing our job right!  So, if that unsaved business owner treats their customers well, I will give them the opportunity to be treated Christ-like by us and by our listeners and to hear about Christ all day long.

 

The Prospect Must Understand That Pre-Payment Is Required

All new clients are told up front that they must pre-pay prior to airing the first three months.  If a client is really upset, it might mean they really had no plans to pay.  If the client is brand new and the buy is placed by an agency, pre-payment is not required.  We only require pre-payment for direct buys.

 

 

The Prospect Must Play Within Our Boundaries

We tell every prospect that we have identified the minimum number of spots one can do in a week and still have an opportunity to be successful.  We have also identified the maximum number of spots partners can do without annoying our listeners.  So now that we have the minimum and maximum, it’s just up to them on what their budget is as to how many announcements they purchase.

Minimum: 3 per day / 15 per week

Maximum: 6 per day / 42 per week

This also helps when having a conversation about budget. A lot of times it really puts the buyers mind at ease knowing that we are not playing a game.

 

The Prospect Has Equal Opportunity 

We do not allow businesses or agencies to day-part for an increased spot rate to guarantee a specific time of day. We believe that if the frequency and the rotation is correct, everyone will succeed. This is only achieved if everyone can get in front of the listener at all times of the day. A lot of times this is met with surprise by agencies, but we have never lost a buy because of it.

 

Remember That You Are The Consultant

I remember the best piece of steak I’ve ever had in my life.  My colleagues at the time from K-LOVE and Air1 and I ate at Gibsons in Chicago.  You could tell that special preparation had been taken to ensure that the steak had been seasoned to perfection and that it was cooked at precisely the right time.  But imagine with me if I would have went in there and asked the waiter to have the chef use half the amount of seasoning, to grab a piece of meat that had only marinated for three quarters of the time, and then to top it off I would like them to cook it at twice the amount of heat for 4.5 minutes, reduce the heat, flip the steak and cook it for an additional 7.5 minutes more.  Ridiculous, right?  No one goes into a steak restaurant and dares to give cooking instructions to the chef.  If you don’t like the way they make their steak there are hundreds of different places to go.  But, judging by how early I had to make the reservation, it’s obvious that tons of people like the way Gibsons prepares their steak.  So, we agree to disagree on steaks and I don’t return.  No problem.

I hope you understand the point I’m making.  We do radio.  We know radio.  We know what works.  It’s our job to consult (not dictate or be rude) but consult the partner on what works.  If in the end you still disagree, that’s fine.  Disagree in a Christ like way and walk away.  Someone once told me, “I’ve never worked in radio but I’ve bought radio.”  Nice, I’ve never cooked crab legs but I’ve ordered them before.  That doesn’t make me a chef.  Our job is to consult, coach, and teach that partner.  This means even the agencies that have been doing this for 30 years.  But as my colleague Bryon Poirier says, “Do it with sugar poured all over it.”

There are many more things that we do to ensure that our partners stick with us year after year but this sums up the top five criteria that must be met when prospecting.  Remember, the station you work for is a treasure.  People pay to keep you on the air.  The country and rock stations can’t say that. So, go into these conversations confident, because you have a product that works and one you can be proud of consistently.

 

Jamin Baxter
Director of Business Development, Moody Radio Network

Jamin Baxter serves as Director of Business Development for Moody Radio Network. He has 15 years’ experience in non-commercial radio sales and over 25 years’ experience in general sales.  On the side, Jamin started Bax5Media which operates as the parent company of Inside Morgan County (www.insidemorgancounty.com) as well as two podcasts. Keeping It Young (www.keepingityoungpodcast.com) which is celebrating their first 50,000 downloads in their first year and Life of Sales (www.lifeofsales.com). A third podcast will be starting this Spring entitled The Church – Under-insured and Exposed.  Baxter is passionate about creating a streamlined system that all non-commercial Christian Radio Stations can use to keep their Underwriting Departments generating revenue while keeping the integrity of the station and the voice of the station front and center.

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