A (Sales) Lesson from Talk Radio

 

“Imagine sharing this conversation with the world. What if we did radio? Wouldn’t that be awesome?”, I asked my long-time tennis training partner Neil between belly laughs.

It was the summer of ’05. The tightest of buddies, Neil and I were having yet another late-night phone conversation revolving around sports and guy talk. And we couldn’t stop giggling. Our chat had reached a crescendo, and I couldn’t help but think our banter should be broadcast to the general public.

Blessed with a lightning-fast mind, Neil didn’t skip a beat: he was in.

We set out to find a radio station we could have a show on.

After some research, we landed a graveyard shift at Stanford’s KZSU. Before long, we were recreating our conversations over the air. All the while, preying a handful of insomniacs were listening to our midnight to 3 am slot. At ‘Your Sports NightCap’, we encouraged listeners to sit back, relax, and crack open an adult beverage as we covered the world of sports. With an obligatory shot of guy talk.

Now, you might ask…”What does this have to do with sales, Paul?”

One thing became clear in my four years of doing talk radio: keep the listener tuned in, at all costs. It’s your job not only to be captivating in the moment. But you also have to sell what’s coming up. The next segment. The sizzling interview. The traffic update. Or even the weather.

I can still hear myself selling the next segment over the air, “Coming up after the break, outspoken former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski will be joining us to discuss the Niners’ demoralizing loss on Sunday. We’ll get his thoughts on how they might be able to turn their season around.”

We’re luring listeners to stay with us through the commercial break and into an interview with an entertaining former NFL tough guy. We want our audience to stick around not only to get advertisers their money’s worth, but also to keep them with us after that, and into the next segment. In radio, that’s called a “tease”. The best teases keep folks glued to their radio speakers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the mentality you want when conducting your sales process. You should be leading your prospects; making sure they’re engaged and tuned in the entire time.

If you’ve spent any time talking sales with me, you know how obsessed I am about selling the next step. As founders, we tend to think our products will sell themselves. “The only thing I need to do is demo my software to prospects and they’ll want to take it off my hands. And pay me money for it.” 

That’s a fantasy. In most cases. 

Not only should you have a streamlined sales process in place, but you need to be able to sell the next step. 

If you don’t, folks don’t end up booking the next meeting. Or they might even no-show if they’ve booked it with you. In both cases, you’ve got leakage in your sales funnel. Potentially costing you a ton in lost deals. 

Selling the next step is the glue between the stages in your sales process. A bridge that transports prospects through to the next step. And keeps them moving toward an eventual close. 

Here’s a good example of selling next steps, borrowed in large part, from my days running sales at Whitetruffle: 

Sales Rep: Typically with companies like yours, we schedule an account optimization call.

On that account optimization call, we’ll make sure to get you properly set up on our platform, show you every bell and whistle of the service, and ensure that you’ll be able to make the most of your 14-day trial.

By the end of the account optimization call, you’ll be able to start meeting with relevant candidates in a fraction of the time you were before. You’ll be able to focus on higher-value tasks like vetting candidates and closing them.

The only thing we’ll need to get done between now and then is for you to sign up to your own account and enter in your credit card information to get your trial started. I’ll be sending a link to sign up right after this call. Is that something we can make happen?

Prospect: Yep, no problem.

Sales Rep: Great, how does 2pm PST Tuesday work for our account optimization call?

Prospect: That works well.

Sales Rep: Awesome, I’ll be sending over a calendar invite for that time right after we hang up here. Looking forward to chatting then. 

Did you notice what we did there?

The account optimization call sounded meaty. It’s brimming with value for the prospect. Not attending it just doesn’t make sense based on what they’re about to get out of it. 

We start by setting the agenda for the upcoming call: “we’ll make sure to get you properly set-up on our platform, show you every bell and whistle of the service, and ensure that you’ll be able to make the most of your 14-day trial.” 

We then move to lay out the call’s payoff: “you’ll be able to start meeting with relevant candidates in a fraction of the time you were before. You’ll be able to focus on higher-value tasks like vetting candidates and closing them.”

After all this meatiness, we position the ask as small: “The only thing we’ll need to get done between now and then is for you to sign up to your own account and enter in your credit card information to get your trial started.”

The truth is: that the request we’re making is hefty. We’re getting the prospect’s CC information, which will, in the end, have them transact with us post-trial. The beauty of all this is we’re getting what we want from them. And it’s all enabled by how we sell the next step. 

Next time you’re listening to your favorite talk show host, pay special attention to how they are selling the next segment. How are they conveying the value in it? What are they highlighting? How are they making it must-listen radio?

Take those elements, and use them as inspiration in your next “tease” to your prospects. And as always, let me know how it goes.