What will propel your digital ad sales? Selling digital and being profitable at it requires many elements. You need the right technology, processes and strategies. Most importantly, you want confident, motivated account executives to generate more revenue with digital.

There’s been much debate over the right approach to this. You can provide training and upskilling for salespeople who are new to digital, you can hire digital-only sellers, or you can go with a hybrid approach. So, what do sales managers think?

Research Reveals Station Managers’ Thoughts on Their Sales Teams

In the 12th annual digital benchmarking report for radio, station and sales managers shared their thoughts. Of those respondents, 43% said hiring digital-only salespeople would have the biggest impact on their digital ad sales, while 33% said training existing sellers would.

Here are some more data points regarding their ability to succeed in digital ad sales:

  • 60% said they have a digital strategy that’s either pretty good or fair. (Only 11% said it was brilliant.)
  • 41% answered that their team’s ability to sell digital is good to excellent, down by 11% compared to 2022.
  • 52% offer digital training to AEs at least once per week.
  • 43% of stations try to include digital in every proposal, down by 13% over 2022.

Interpreting this data leads to many assumptions or hypotheses.

Hiring Digital-Only Sellers May Not be Feasible

Seasoned digital sellers may not be looking for a new role, and there are likely fewer of them. This makes them passive candidates versus those actively seeking employment.

When hired, they can immediately start selling because of their digital knowledge, but they may need to learn the market, the products you provide, how they work and other nuances of local media sales. Digital acumen doesn’t always equate to better results.

These individuals can recommend campaigns to achieve advertiser goals with certainty. Depending on whom they were selling to previously, they may need to acclimate to your audience’s expectations.

Digital-only sellers could help with some quick wins and should be a consideration for your hiring strategies. However, putting all your eggs in this basket may have drawbacks. They may expect your advertisers to be more digital savvy, which could impact how they pitch. They may also be less inclined to follow the best practices of digital plus radio for campaigns.

Training Sellers on Digital Is a Never-Ending Process

Training and upskilling traditional sellers has been an ongoing initiative for local media. We firmly believe digital advertising education never ends, and we provide an always-growing library of resources. The reason this training is ongoing is that digital advertising is a dynamic field. There’s always something new to learn about tactics, from the deprecation of third-party cookies to the new frontier of streaming.

It’s great that most radio stations have weekly training opportunities for sales staff. Training is most effective when it’s consistent and relevant, involves role-play, and speaks to the unique needs of local advertisers. It should always be a part of your digital ad sales strategy.

The Best Sellers Are Valued, Incentivized and Always Learning

The best approach to your sales staffing plan will likely be a hybrid of having some digital-only sellers and some AEs who are radio experts but newer to digital. Creating the most promising sales team requires these things:

  • Competitive compensation (Read more about this topic in our Ultimate Guide to Digital Sales Compensation for Media Companies.)
  • A culture that respects and values staff
  • Commitment from leadership to making digital profitable by providing technology resources
  • The right digital advertising platform for radio that integrates with traffic systems and is designed to meet your workflows
  • Ongoing access to training and digital experts to improve prospecting, pitching and selling
  • Having a complete portfolio of digital tactics to offer customers

When these things are in place, you can sell digital with healthy profits. The absence of any element could impact your success.

The only true answer to the question of whom to hire and why is that it depends. Factors that impact the decision are your digital maturity, market, audience and current sales team makeup.

No matter who’s selling for you, they need support. We’re able to provide that with Marketron NXT. It’s the only digital advertising platform built for radio. It connects to our traffic systems, so you can propose, order, report and invoice linear and digital in one solution.

It comes with free access to the NXT Training Academy, the Marketron Learning Center and award-winning sales enablement content. You’ll experience customized, dedicated onboarding support and will be able to strategize with digital advertising experts from our client development manager team.

See how it all works by requesting a demo today
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