Gordon Bayliss

Greater Public Corporate Support Advisor and Vice President of Sales and Marketing at WNED
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Recent Posts

Surefire Ways to Secure an Appointment With a Sponsorship Prospect

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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You’ve completed your research and believe you are looking at a company that is fairly likely to be interested in a public media sponsorship at this time.

What do you say when you call for an appointment? 

Your goal is to create immediate interest for further discussion. Engage the prospect. It is that simple. Don’t try to sell them over the phone. Sales research has shown that you have between 10 and 30 seconds of attention span with which to earn the right to advance your call. This means you have to maximize the impact of every word. 

Use your hard-won prospecting and researching. It is critical that the person on the other end of the phone know you have given some thought to why a public media sponsorship could help his or her company. Don’t use a canned speech! This is the opportunity to differentiate yourself by showing that you have an idea of the issues they are facing. Instead of saying, “This is so and so from WXYZ, would it be possible to meet with you to talk about how public radio and our online and digital media could help your business?” You should focus on specific business issues they might be facing

The basic components of your opening statement should contain:

  • Who you are and where you’re from
  • A question or statement to demonstrate that you have done your homework and to engage the prospect
  • In very simple terms, how public radio and its digital media offer differentiated benefits to the client
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Corporate Support Prospecting During the Pandemic

Corporate Support, prospecting, COVID-19

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Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve gotten used to social distancing and the alternate ways in which we now must communicate with new underwriting prospects: Zoom meetings, emails, and e-newsletters. The challenge is to stand out from all of the other media salespeople in your market who also are working to get the attention of the business owners and decision-makers that you’re pursuing.

When you need to get close while keeping your distance, here are ideas to establish and maintain connections and relevance while attracting new prospects.

Review what you’re currently doing.

What underwriting information are you sending to your prospects and how often are you reaching out to them? Position yourself and become a resource to your prospects. If you think you’re going overboard in your mailed or emailed communications, think about making your website’s underwriting pages the place for news, updates, and tips about underwriting, promotions, marketing, and advertising. Some businesses and prospects are knee-deep in alligators, so to speak, and don’t have the luxury of time. They may not have an annual plan right now. They’re doing what they need to do today. Make sure you provide them with information that can help them meet their challenges. All it takes is having one of your ideas or suggestions turn into a success for the prospect and you’ll have made a huge step forward in cultivating your relationship.

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Strategies to Make the Most of Working From Home

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, COVID-19

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One benefit of work-from-home is that my car is getting three weeks to the gallon.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a number of public radio underwriting sales staff who were already working from home (WFH), often because their station’s reach covered a sizable geographic area or their entire state. Those salespeople live in various parts of their coverage area in order to be able to call on and visit with underwriting prospects and clients.

And then it happened. WFH. Everyone.

In these [pick one: challenging, crazy, terrible, unprecedented] times, stations’ underwriting salespeople packed up their files and list of accounts to work from home as states implemented stay-at-home orders that shuttered businesses and helped isolate those who have the virus to prevent it from spreading. 

The show must go on.

As we soon learned, the mandatory WFH situation that many of us found ourselves in is not ideal. Schools closed and kids had to be home-schooled. Restless pets were wondering why their human owners were not leaving the house. With everyone home, some home Internet connections were being taxed due to the increased use by multiple family members. Accessing the station’s network remotely from home had its problems. For most of us, these new situations only added to existing work challenges.

With the “interim or new-norm” of WFH it can be difficult to remain motivated through all of the uncertainty. So what are some of the things we’ve learned to motivate us and keep us productive while working from home?

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Reassuring Your Underwriting Clients During COVID-19

Corporate Support, COVID-19

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As COVID-19 cases continue to spread, this is the time to check in with your underwriters and strengthen your relationships.

Keep in mind that your underwriting contacts may be extremely busy preparing for the full impact of COVID-19 in your area.

Here are some suggestions when you contact them.

Express your concern about how they are doing. 

Ask how the virus is affecting their business or how they might feel if COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in your area. 

Find out what they are doing to reinforce their relationships with their customers. 

Are they having to cancel performances or events, or is it business as usual for now? 

If they are shortening their hours, or if they have products or services that are critical for their customers to have during this time, ask how they are reaching their customers and prospects with that information. Their responses will give you some idea of how to help them.

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Upselling and Cross-Selling Your Underwriters

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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How many of your underwriters also buy sponsorships of your other offerings and opportunities? I’m referring to items such as web ads on your station’s website or e-newsletters, program guides, and/or mobile apps? How many of your current underwriters sponsor your station’s special programming features or events?

If your answer is “not enough of them,” then you’re missing opportunities to generate incremental revenue for your station through upselling or cross-selling.

Upselling means showing the value and encouraging the purchase of a related type of on-air media in addition to your underwriter’s current schedule. For example, an underwriter who is buying a “Run of Schedule” could also be a sponsor of one or more specific on-air programs (i.e. music, news, or public affairs).

Cross-selling is recommending that, in addition to their on-air schedule, your underwriter purchases complementary sponsorships like station events, online marketing opportunities, or other promotions. Taking a multi-media approach that includes various marketing opportunities will bolster your underwriter’s name recognition and top-of-mind awareness as they build upon the recognition they receive from their current buy.

Upselling and cross-selling is necessary to leverage more sales with your existing underwriters. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, both offer distinct benefits and can be effective when used in tandem.

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The Nine Best Questions for Your Customer Needs Analysis

Corporate Support

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An important part of selling underwriting is uncovering as much relevant information about your prospects and clients as possible. A customer needs analysis (CNA) can reveal what you need to know to be able to help your prospect or client reach their marketing goals.

The following questions should be part of your CNA, and, though they are basic, they’re important. Even if you have the answer to some of the questions (taken from the prospect's website or other sources), ask them anyway. You’ll want to hear the answers directly from the prospect or client to confirm, correct, or update what you may have found elsewhere.

Some clients know very little about marketing, promoting and advertising their own business. Anecdotally, I’ve found that educated businesspeople buy more underwriting than uneducated business people. When I understand exactly what they don’t know, I can work on specific ways to educate them about public media underwriting and get them on board as an underwriter.

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How to Get More C-Level Meetings to Discuss Underwriting

Corporate Support, underwriting prospect

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Have you ever tried to set up a meeting with a senior-level executive to discuss underwriting opportunities? It can be tough to connect with these very busy people. It seems as though they’re never in their office, they rarely answer the phone, and seldom reply to your voicemail or email. What makes it a bigger challenge is that their assistants are very effective at being gatekeepers, protecting them from interruptions.

If you want to connect with executives, it likely won't happen easily. To set up a meeting, you first have to get their attention.

  • Keep it simple and get to the point. Don't distract or overwhelm with detail.
  • Be invaluable. Realize that you are the primary differentiator today.
  • Zoom in and align. Focus your message on their key business objectives.
  • Raise priorities. Keep your eye on changes that can affect and increase momentum.

You must convey all of this in a 30-second introduction, voicemail, or brief email message.

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Answers to Most-Asked Questions From the PMDMC19 Underwriting Basics Cohort

PMDMC, credit copy, Corporate Support

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When a group of sales reps and managers gathered at this year's Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) to explore and reconnect with the essentials of underwriting, these were the questions they felt were most urgent to their daily work:

How do I get underwriting renewals or increases?

  • Think of how well your membership department has converted members into sustainers. Instead of treating sponsors simply as renewals, steward them like public media marketing-campaign sustainers. Also, weave in components that are valuable to them like digital media, or sponsorship of a station event.

How long should I wait to follow up with an underwriter? How long is too long to not talk with them personally?

  • When your underwriter has signed an annual agreement, ask how often he/she would like to meet with you. Whatever the underwriter says, increase it by one or two times.
  • When a new underwriter signs up for a year, your first follow-up should be two to three weeks after the schedule begins.

How can I close faster?

  • Make sure you’re talking from the start with the person who has the authority and the budget to make a buying decision.
  • Do they have a need?
  • Do they have a time frame?
  • Assess up front: Are their company’s mission and/or vision statements compatible with those of your station?

How can I identify new underwriting prospects?

Check out Greater Public’s Underwriting Category Study for the categories that offer the most potential for stations.

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Staying on Top of Trends in Advertising and Marketing

sales strategy, Corporate Support, underwriting prospect

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When I started working in sales in commercial media, about the year 40 BC (Before Computers), it wasn’t uncommon to ask a prospective advertiser for recent copies of the trade magazines they subscribed to. That was how almost every salesperson learned about the prospect’s industry and business. Back then the prospect was willing and had time to talk about it with sales reps.

Times have changed.

Now, prospects are bombarded by media sales reps. Think about it. In almost every city there may be about 30 salespeople representing various radio and TV stations, and a half dozen or so from the daily, local, and business papers. Add in another dozen sales reps from billboard companies, direct mail and marketing businesses, cable TV, and online marketing companies. It’s easy to understand that a business owner or their marketing person is being called on by dozens of media sales reps every month. Businesses don’t have the time to educate every salesperson about their business, nor should they have to do that. That’s our responsibility.

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How to Get "in the Zone" in Underwriting Sales More Often

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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There’s a familiar phrase in professional sports: “in the zone.” Professional basketball  players on a hot streak shooting from beyond the three-point line are in the zone. Baseball players enjoying a hitting streak might say the ball seems impossible not to hit when they are in the zone. When a golfer’s swing seems effortless, when she sinks her putts on the green with ease, she’s in the zone.

What contributes to being in the zone? Being completely focused on the moment. Everything else seems to fade into the background, including the noise of the crowd.

When performing an activity, and being immersed in the moment, there’s an energized focus. Being in the zone is when you’re completely involved and concentrating on your actions.

In sales, you experience being in the zone, mainly when three conditions are in play:

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