Three Keys to Selling Smarter

Dear Christian Radio,

You don’t want to buy any spots today, do you?

Let’s be honest: Christian radio underwriting is totally different from selling commercial radio. You are asking people who own or operate local businesses to invest in the mission and vision of your ministry. The impact just happens to be on the radio.

When it comes to Christian radio, there are three keys to selling smarter. They are Plan, Build, and Listen. Implement all three and you will be on the path to success.

The first key is to plan. Qualify and prioritize your potential business donors.  There may be hundreds, maybe even thousands of businesses in your listening area. Cold calling can be fruitless on its own, but if you qualify and prioritize potential business donors, you will have a better chance for success.

Know your business targets; then, break them down into three categories:

  • Category A – This is where you will spend 60% of your efforts. It can be as simple as, they play your station in their business, or you already know the decision maker.
  • Category B – This is where you devote 30% of your energy. It could be their reputation and visibility in the marketplace, or that they are a local, community-minded business.
  • Category C – Don’t waste more than 10% of your time here. This category could be a new business with low or no advertising budget or a past target that has been non-responsive.

The second key requires building the relationship. If you have been in sales for any length of time, you have heard the adage that people buy from people they know, like, and trust.  You don’t necessarily want to sell them spots or airtime. You do, however, need to show them the importance of your outreach and ministry in their community. After all, your listeners are their customers.

Do your research. Know a little about their business, and if possible, why they listen. If you are visiting their office, look to see what is on the wall or on their desk. What are their interests? What can you talk about that isn’t centered around you or the ministry? Try to understand what motivates them to listen and/or support you. In truth, an on-air “Thank you” message may not be what they want or need. It could be that they simply love your community events or your ministry outreach. Knowing there motivations can open doors for you that might otherwise remain closed. Instead of becoming a one-time “Thank you,” they could become the perfect sponsor or donor you need supporting your next event.

The third and final key is to listen. You have already qualified, prioritized, and built a potential winning relationship…now, give them the opportunity to tell you why your radio ministry is so special to them. Eventually, they will tell you why they need to be in partnership with you!

Perhaps it is as simple as a particular song that played at the right time…and it made all the difference in their lives. In this instance, don’t make the mistake of telling them what it means to you—let them tell their story. Price, audience size, and coverage maps will not convince them that they need your listeners.  They will sell themselves on why they want to join you in ministry. Most often, the reason is both simple and personal—to be a part of the impact you are having on their community and customers.

Sales is about relationships. Make that your focus and the rest will fall into place.


Randy Pierce
Vice President of Underwriting, PAR
Positive Alternative Radio


Sign up for Dear Christian Radio’s Weekly Email!


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.