Do you remember your first day in radio? I remember mine like it was yesterday.
It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college, June of 1994. The day after I came home from school, my best friend’s dad, who was in the advertising business, lined up an interview for a summer internship with KFNS in St. Louis.
I met with the Program Director and the Assistant Program Director and they both seemed as if they wanted to be doing anything else besides talking to me. In fact, the APD fell asleep while we were talking – true story.
They said I was a little late in coming to talk with them, but if someone backed out they would give me a call. Sure enough, about a week later, the PD called and asked if I’d be willing to work the morning shift and get to the station at 5:30am, three days per week. I lived about 45 minutes away from the station, but he could have said 2:30am, I was in!
The following Sunday night, I don’t think I slept. I was so excited and was so worried about sleeping through my alarm that I was dressed and ready to go by 4:00. I hopped in my car and drove to the radio station, in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, and parked in the garage as I was instructed. What wasn’t in my instructions was how to get in the building. Every door I went to was locked. I had no clue what to do and I was panicking. As I went back towards my car, a woman had pulled into the garage and was running hurriedly to the door as if she was late. Turns out, she was the producer of the morning show on a sister station and she was, in fact, running late.
“I’m trying to get up to KFNS,” I yelled as she was sprinting to the door. “This way,” she yelled back as the door was about to close. I caught it with my foot and followed her up the stairs and through the door to the radio station. “New guy’s here, nice of you to tell him how to get in,” she hollered at the producer in the KFNS studio as she ran into the studio across the hall.
And so, it began. I was hooked from my first shift. I never wanted to leave. As it turned out, I hardly ever did. I’ve written about this before, but those that are new to my column may not know that I worked for KFNS for the next seven and a half years, eventually co-hosting morning drive, until I took my first management job in Memphis. I later came back and was part of an ownership group that bought KFNS and spent another four and a half years there as President and General Manager.
I bring all this up to lead you to this week when I hired two brand new salespeople to join our staff at KCSP in Kansas City. To protect the innocent, I will use only their first names as I tell you a little bit about how their first day on the job went.
Nick is 25 years old and is a ball of energy. I met him through one of our on-air hosts when he was working as a General Manager for two Mr. Goodcents locations in the Kansas City area. He came in to talk with me about some promotional ideas and after talking with him for about ten minutes, I wanted to hire him. I asked him about his background and he told me about some selling he had done in the wireless industry and in digital media. That was all I needed to hear. High energy, creative, smart and had done some sales. I quickly turned the conversation towards seeing how happy he was in his current position and it turned out he was ready for a change.
Adam is a 30-year-old former Division I basketball player who answered a post we had on Indeed.com. He was one of several interviews I did in one day and stood out from the others I had talked to by far. After playing some pro ball overseas, Adam worked for a couple of technology companies and had a lot of experience with sales and, most importantly, with cold calling. Mostly, I loved that Adam was very motivated by money and loved competition. He’s also very good at tracking his own success. I know this, because I’d looked up his basketball stats and mentioned that I saw he shot 39% from behind the three-point line. He quickly pointed out that it actually rounded up to 40%!
After a hectic first day I sat down with both and first asked them about what they’d been thinking about since officially taking the job just over a week prior. “To me, the toughest part of starting any sales job is learning the products and turning your leads into appointments,” said Nick. “I was mainly thinking of my game plan so that I can learn the products in such a way that I can get people to want to talk to me. For me, it’s all about absorbing all of the information and becoming comfortable with the products as quickly as possible.”
Adam said: “My first thoughts were about which customers I have previous relationships with that I can call and get an appointment with. Who do I know that will give me the ten or fifteen minutes I might need to get in front of them and tell them where I’m at and see if it might be a fit for them?”
I also wanted to know what they were looking forward to, now that they had a little bit more information about the company and what the job was. “I’m just looking forward to being in the environment and to learning the industry,” Nick said. “I can’t wait to get out and sell these guys that I’ve been listening to for years and helping them make money, which in turn will help me make money.”
“Same for me,” said Adam. “At first, I thought the job was just selling radio ads and I didn’t know too much about digital, events and the other things we have to sell. I’m excited to learn about all of those things and then get out and inform businesses about how all the products can help them grow.”
When their first day was complete they had each met close to 100 new co-workers, filled out a giant stack of paperwork, received usernames and passwords to several different new systems, started online training modules and even had their first celebrity encounter when six-time Pro Bowler Neil Smith came into my office to fill out some paperwork. I was curious to know after all of that, what they told people about their first day.
“I went home and told my wife my brain was absolutely fried,” Adam said. “I was really excited and was just trying to process all of the information that had come my way.”
Nick told me he called his mom and said he told her, “I am so stoked to be in an industry I have really wanted to be a part of, doing something I know I’m going to be good at. I really can see myself working for this company for a really long time.”
I was just glad I had remembered to tell them both how to get in the building!
So how will Nick and Adam do in their new careers? I’ll plan to update you every so often on their progress and you’ll be able to follow along as they set out on their new journey.