|Pictured at RAB2005 are Mike Mahone, Executive Vice President, Services, RAB; BMI's Mark Barron, Asst. VP, Marketing, Media Licensing; Mike Watkins, Account Executive, KDGS-KFH-FM/AM, Entercom, Wichita; and John Potter, Vice President/Director RAB Radio Training Academy|
At RAB2005 last month in Atlanta, Mike Watkins of Entercom's KDGS and KFH in Wichita, Kan., spoke to attendees about his experience as a scholarship recipient. He also sat down with trade publication R&R to discuss his Academy experience. An excerpt of that story follows.
When Mike Watkins stood at the lectern to address attendees at the RAB2005 sales conference Feb. 12, it must have seemed a world away from the Cingular Wireless store in Wichita he managed a couple of years back. The truth is, it was a world away, and that shows how far this Entercom/Wichita AE has come.
It wasn't so much that Watkins was unhappy selling mobile phones or, after he moved on from Cingular, office equipment. But he wanted more. He focused on Radio and came to Entercom's CHR/Rhythmic KDGS and Talk KFH/Wichita to try his hand at radio sales.
Every sales manager is looking for eager people who aren't afraid of picking up the phone and cold calling. But, as every sales manager can attest, attitude is only part of the package. It's also important to understand how to present yourself and your radio station, as well as how to conduct a needs analysis, then respond to that analysis with a proposal that is ultimately negotiated into a sale.
It was curiosity that led Watkins to the RAB/BMI FastStart to Radio Success Minority Scholarship Program, which is entering its fourth year of providing 25 minority scholarships annually to the RAB Radio Training Academy, under the sponsorship of BMI. The 6-year-old Academy trains roughly a thousand people each year. Watkins found out about the scholarship on the RAB website. He tells R&R, "I came across the program and submitted an application, and here we are. I wanted more knowledge on the industry and more training as far as the selling process and selling techniques go."
The training session Watkins attended took place last December in Dallas. He says of the two dozen people in his class, "There were some newbies, and there were a few folks who had been in the industry longer. One fellow had maybe 12 years of Radio experience, but he had been in programming and a few other areas of radio and was just getting over to the sales side.
"After some introductions we jumped right into the training, going through the seven steps of the sales process and then focusing three or four hours of the day on each step. It was really instructive, with real attention to detail."
Watkins says the importance of doing this kind of training in a focused environment can't be overemphasized. "For me," he says, "it was an opportunity to escape from the real world of selling and sit back and see how the sales process works. "For anybody who's just getting into radio or has been in radio but is just moving to sales, I would very much recommend they apply for this training program. It takes you out of the day-to-day and lets you sit back and absorb it step by step."
Recipients are selected by the FastStart Scholarship Committee, which is comprised of radio industry professionals who base their decision on various criteria including ethnicity, overall need, enthusiasm toward a career in radio sales, and recommendations from the applicant's professional associates.
Applications may be downloaded online at www.rab.com. The application deadline is April 30, 2005, and recipients will be announced at the end of May 2005.
"BMI recognizes the importance of sales training in the radio industry and is pleased to be able to provide support to every salesperson that attends either the RAB Academy or the RAB regional training seminars," noted John Shaker, Senior Vice President, Licensing for BMI. "BMI's partnership with the RAB gives radio salespeople an important advantage in an increasingly competitive ad sales environment."
"BMI's generous and continued support of the minority scholarship program has provided some of radio's most promising individuals with an invaluable learning experience at the Academy," observed Gary Fries, President and Chief Executive Officer, RAB. "We are delighted to partner with them again on a program that benefits individuals and the entire radio industry."