EPISODE 403: Critical Lessons for Success in Radio Ad Sales with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Jaime Frankel and Deane Poole

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Women in Sales Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on August 15, 2021. It featured sales Jaime Frankel and Deana Poole from 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, which is part of the Beasley Media Group.]

Register for the IES Women in Sales Leadership Forum here.

Find Jaime on LinkedIn here. Find Deana on LinkedIn here.

JAIME’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Be the leader you want to be led by. Just because you are a certain role within your organization doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader. You should lead from all positions. If you see something that needs to be changed, worked on or done, do it because that comradery within your team is so important. You don’t have to have a leadership title in order to be a leader in your organization or on your team. My advice to anybody in any role is lead and be the leader you want to be led by, so that people can see what your expectations are and live by the way that you’re living. You can sit there and complain about what you don’t have or you can create it and be that change.

DEANA’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Be coachable. One of the reasons that I’ve had the success that I’ve had is I really try to not be the smartest person in the room. I’m constantly reading a book, going to a podcast, watching a webinar, asking questions that no one wants to ask, raising my hand, trying to figure things out. Accepting the fact that I don’t know everything and seeking people to teach me and really remaining coachable every day, has really given me a little bit of an edge and kept me moving forward. In any industry, just be coachable and continue to teach yourself.


Gina Stracuzzi: Welcome, everyone, to the Women in Sales Professional Development webcast/podcast. I would like to introduce my guests, Jaime Frankel and Deana Poole of Beasley Media. I’m super excited to tell you that, as they told me when we were warming up here, they have a female CEO and a female VP of Sales, so I already love this organization. Welcome, ladies.

As I like to do instead of trying to read your bios, I like to have my guests tell us a little bit about themselves. Jaime, why don’t you start with introducing yourself?

Jaime Frankel: Thanks, Gina. My name is Jaime Frankel, I am the General Sales Manager for Beasley Media Group’s 97.5 The Fanatic, we are a sports talk radio station. As you said, we do have a wonderful group of women that lead this organization, starting at the top with Caroline Beasley who is our CEO and Tina Murley is our VP of Sales, so there’s a lot of support for women within our organization. I’ve been at the company for 15 years and currently leading this team for 5 years, a wonderful team of marketing professionals including Deana Poole.

Gina Stracuzzi: Deana?

Deana Poole: Thanks so much for having us, Gina. I started in radio, in two weeks, August 24th, it’ll be 20 years and I’m very proud of that, very excited. I’ve been at 97.5 The Fanatic for about 13 or 14 of them, so in sports radio. A few years before that, I was selling a different sports station here in Philadelphia. 97.5 The Fanatic is Philadelphia’s first FM sports station which is really exciting, it was really exciting to be here when we made that switch. Any time, really, is an exciting time to be in sports and when you can be this close to the action in a sports-crazy town like Philadelphia. Every day is different and it’s really exciting.

Gina Stracuzzi: That is exciting. Let’s start at the top and let’s talk about how your business is going today and how you fair during the pandemic, where you think things are headed now. Jaime, why don’t we start with you?

Jaime Frankel: The business is actually pretty strong right now, we’re happy to report. One of the things I find interesting that people ask a lot about what happened during the pandemic, how did you deal with it, how did you bring everybody together and keep everybody together. For me, you can never start building that culture, that trust and that team and that success when the pandemic hits. We are lucky to have had a great team of professionals who support each other with a lot of trust, that work together for a really long time. That team and that comradery really helped us get through a very difficult time.

We have many working parents on the team, so we needed to support each other through home, business and shut downs when there’s no sports and you’re working at a sports radio station that’s supported with local businesses and there’s no local businesses. There are some challenges there for sure, but I’m proud to say that everybody did an amazing job of just making sure that we did what we could do to help as much as we could.

With the strength of the radio station we were able to run some special announcements for some of our clients and help them get through some tough times, and really just continue to build on those relationships that we already had. We’ve come out stronger for it, I think. Our business is going well, sports is doing well and our team environment is stronger than ever.

Gina Stracuzzi: Deana, you’re more on the ground as a sales exec on this. How is it for you dealing with advertisers and how did you feel trying to keep everything going in the midst of this?

Deana Poole: I think one of the things that Jaime said was really important. Having that strong foundation of culture and comradery and collaboration long before the pandemic hit was really key. Because as you all know, having a plan in the middle of the pandemic is not the time to start executing something new, some new culture or some new way that we’re going to do things.

Having that foundation was really critical and Jaime was very strategic, the way that she approached everything in terms of problem-solving. Not to get too much in the weeds, but I think a lot of radio stations that had a lot of commercial inventory were just giving it away. Jaime had a plan and that plan was to run specific PSAs that included several different advertisers that was not giving away the farm, but was still really helping our local businesses.

You mentioned Caroline Beasley earlier, our CEO. One of the foundations of our company is that our radio stations are live and local and here for the community. We were able to stay with that mantra without completely exposing ourselves. Because when things started to turn around, once you start giving things away for free, it’s hard to start charging for them. But when you have a plan in place and really strong leadership like with Jaime, it was really easy to help people in a strategic way that set us up for success as the world opened up, as Philadelphia and the surrounding areas started opening up. As these marketing budgets that everyone had been sitting on for a number of months – rightfully so, not knowing what’s happening – now they’ve accrued some dollars, they have a plan and now they need us and they want to spend those dollars, and now it makes a lot of sense to start working with us.

To answer your question, having strong culture and having plans in place. I also think as a company and as management team, they were realistic. They were understanding of what was going on and they listened to us and they didn’t have unrealistic expectations. They really did jump in the trenches with us and say, “What can we do? How can we help?” I think also having a leadership team that is pretty devoid of any ego where they listen to us as salespeople and as sales professionals. They take what we say in terms of feedback from the field seriously, that’s really important. Like Jaime said, that stuff was going on long before the pandemic and part of our collaborative and inclusive culture.

Gina Stracuzzi: Over the last two months as we come out of this, the companies that are the most successful seem to have that kind of dynamic where it was, “We’re a team, we’re going to get through this together, let’s all put our ideas down in front of us and let’s figure out how we’re going to make this happen.” That’s a perfect lead-in, Deana, to what I’m going to ask Jaime next. What are your priorities now? What are you trying to do, especially when who knows if there’s a 15th wave or something of this? If we find ourselves in that same position, what are your priorities now and how will you safeguard?

Jaime Frankel: That’s a great question. My priorities never changed. The #1 priority is the happiness of my team, making sure we’re doing our best to keep everybody safe and everybody productive and everybody happy. When you’re working with commission-based salespeople who have families to feed and you have families to take care of when things go a little bit wonky, we certainly need to make sure that they are the priorities. There is no such thing as a productive salesperson who’s not a happy person and doesn’t feel supported.

As long as we keep that support, and that support, by the way, that all comes from above as well. I can’t help and be strategic if I don’t have the support of the people above me, of our Director of Sales, Paul Blake and of our General Manager, Joe Bell and the other managers on the team, to make sure we all are walking the walk and talking the talk at the same time.

As far as priorities and strategies, it’s to continue doing what we’ve always done which is a customer-based focus of how we talk to clients. We go out, we talk to businesses, we ask them questions, we ask them about what’s changed as a result of the pandemic, but also what their goals are and how they want to see their business grow. Our goal is not to just get a business on the radio, our goal is to grow a company and to help them get their messages out.

One of the great things about radio and specifically talk radio, it’s very nimble. As things change very quickly, we can change that messaging quickly and we can be one of the quickest ways to get the message to the masses, and that’s really important for us. The priorities are always customers first, my customers are my sales team and making sure that everybody has what they need to succeed. I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to the darkest moments there, because before there was no precedent for what to do in a global pandemic like that. Now we have some strategy in place and some knowledge of what works, what doesn’t work and how we can jump into action really quickly. That will make a big difference as we move forward and stay in the course of trying to make sure we can be as normal as we can within these circumstances.

Gina Stracuzzi: That leads me into another question. What was your biggest surprise out of this? Was there something that you came away with that blew you away? Something that you’ll keep moving forward with. You alluded to some of it, but some big piece of positivity that you gleaned out of all of this.

Jaime Frankel: For me, I think that as a woman who has kids, a family and a career, people will always ask about balance. I always think that the biggest problem with balance is believing that it exists. There is no such thing as a balance, everybody that’s tried to have one, you’re really throwing away your time trying to find a balance. What I found is what I think I should have known all along which is it’s not quantity of time, it’s quality of time. I was lucky to have more time with my family and more ability to do things that I hadn’t done before. But it really put it into perspective to me that it’s what I’m doing during that time. That’s true with my team and that’s true with my family.

The one thing I really learned is make every moment count, and be present in those moments. When I’m having a one-on-one meeting with Deana, be present and make sure that I’m not just asking her about her business but about her family and about what else I can do to help make sure that she gets what she needs throughout because there is no balance, but there is being well-rounded. We need to integrate all those things together, and the more those things are integrated together, the more whole we are as people.

Gina Stracuzzi: Do you have anything you’d like to add, Deana?

Deana Poole: I feel like there were many positives that came out of this, and I alluded to this in your last question. Our culture and what’s important to us was really put to the test at that time. I feel like the company and leadership really rose to the top. The thing for me that was very positive that came out of this was to never stop growing. I had to take what I’d done for years, my big thing was always a face-to-face meeting. I need to see my clients face-to-face and it certainly still is, but obviously during the shutdown, during the pandemic when clients’ offices aren’t open, you really have to change the way you’re doing business.

For me, one of the positives that came out was I can do this and it doesn’t have to be in this cookie-cutter way that I’ve been doing it all along. Yes, I’ve grown, I’ve gotten better, I’m always looking to succeed but obviously, the last year or so really threw everybody a curve ball to reevaluate every single thing that you’re doing. One of the positives for me personally was I can do this job and I can figure it out under the most unbelievable and unfathomable of circumstances. I can still figure out a way to make a connection with new clients, with new customers and with existing clients and customers and help them, even though I’m not doing it the same way I have done it or did it even just a couple years ago.

Gina Stracuzzi: We are hearing that a lot, that people were so convinced that they had to be in the same room with someone in order to be effective salespeople. Now, we realize that’s not true. A lot of companies are rethinking. For one, there’s a lot of cost involved with moving people, especially if they have to travel. I think there’s a lot of companies that are looking at things a little bit differently now, like, how can we capitalize on this, leverage what we’ve learned to take us to the next level in our game?

Now I would like to bring the conversation around specifically to radio, and what your customers are looking for now. Have their priorities shifted as well? What do they want from their radio advertising dollars?

Deana Poole: I think that has stayed the same and that has never changed. Our clients, our customers are looking for ROI. They are looking to folks like me to show them exactly where to spend their dollars, how to spend their dollars and show me where I can see the ROI. We’re really lucky because we have analytical tools on the backend that can show increased web traffic and that kind of thing, and show them that we are getting people to engage with your brand, and here is some data to show you that.

I also think that Beasley Media Group does a superior job with integrating other digital assets as well, not just our own operated website, but other search tools and other options from a digital standpoint where we can really compete with any advertising agency out there, digital or otherwise, that’s offering certain things. We can offer those things and then layer in radio and that’s really where we’re unstoppable.

But to answer your question, they are looking for an ROI, they’re looking for us to tell them exactly where to put their dollars and how to use them, they’re looking to us to write copy and to write commercials and what that copy should say and how it should sound, and they’re looking to see exactly where it’s placed. At the end of the day, they want to see data – whether it’s digital or radio – of how is my dollar working for me on the radio? We’re really lucky that Beasley’s invested in ways for us to show that on the backend.

Gina Stracuzzi: And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, that is something every potential customer wants to see is that ROI. Show me that this really works. Do you have something you’d like to add to that, Jamie?

Jaime Frankel: Sure. The only other thing that I would say is our company strategy is coaching ideas and results, and that coaching comes from us to just give a sense of certain things have changed, there are certain words that we can’t use anymore, certain things that we should be saying to our clients. We want to make sure that we’re approaching our clients on that sensitivity side as well as whatever they need to do with our custom ideas. Deana was talking about those results and that ROI, so when a customer needs analysis now, it is different than it was before because many of the priorities have shifted. The best example I can give to you is something that everybody knows is a problem right now which is recruitment.

Recruitment happens to be the #1 goal of most companies so we need to shift sometimes our focus when we call a company and they say, “I can’t take on any more clients right now because I don’t have enough people to do that work.” We can help you there too. We put together custom programs based on what the current needs are and those needs do tend to change sometimes from a day-to-day basis. Customers are looking to us for solutions for different problems than they’ve had in the past, and we can help them with that.

Deana Poole: Something that Jaime said earlier, that’s one of the really cool things about radio being so nimble. We may have a client that is advertising one thing and can call me up and say, “I really need to change that message. I know I’ve booked X amount of commercials for the next of the month, I really need to change that message to recruitment.” I can have that message changed as soon as this afternoon, no problem.

Gina Stracuzzi: That is quick turnaround. You’re both right that recruitment is huge across every industry now, and once you get them, retaining them is another challenge altogether. It sounds like Beasley Media is very good at that. We have a question from Christina, she wants to know how radio has changed with the advent of streaming media.

Jaime Frankel: Radio has been around for a very, very long time and there’s always been something that’s going to be this big disruptor. Let’s start with television in the start, and then there was cable and then there was SiriusXM and all these different tools and the internet, quite frankly. One of the things that’s fascinating is that people’s time is a little bit split, they have a lot more options than they ever have before, but radio is tried and true and that grass root is really the one-on-one connection. Radio is the original influencer market, and I think it’s interesting when people are talking about these new influencers and all these things. Our radio hosts have originally been those influencers doing those endorsements, those testimonial-type programs.

Radio has evolved to include many of those tools, Deana spoke about it earlier, about our integration with a lot of our digital capabilities, and it’s all an extension of what we do in the core of our business. We have capabilities across many different platforms and really, it’s not about radio, it’s about the listener and about influencing them to do what your company needs them to do. We have the ability to get people’s attention and to get people to believe what we need them to believe or do what we need them to do to help grow these businesses and get their messages out there. That’s one thing that’s never going to change, it’s just a matter of how they’re ingesting that same information, and radio’s always going to be a core of that piece of what people do and love.

Gina Stracuzzi: Deana?

Deana Poole: I love this question and we could do an entire podcast on this question, and I get this question a lot. There’s two parts to it. The simple answer is like Jaime said, radio’s been “going out of business” for years. Like I said in the beginning, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it’s like every two years something comes along that’s going to “put us out of business” and here we are. TV just celebrated its 40th anniversary recently. The first video that came out on MTV was Video Killed the Radio Star. Radio’s still around and I don’t hear anything much about MTV.

I think one of the things too that’s really important to mention, though, is that Beasley is very committed to live and local. Live and local is that stickiness, that duct tape that keeps what Jaime was saying, it really doesn’t matter what radio is doing, it matters what the listener is doing. The listener will stick to our station, to our host, to our promotions, to our sponsorships, to our sponsors, to our events, you name it, because they’re live and local. These are people that live in your community, that are giving back to the community, that are talking about things happening in your community whether it’s as simple as the weather or as elaborate as what’s going on in sports. While a lot of things are coming along that can divide attention, there is no substitute for live and local radio.

Gina Stracuzzi: My husband is a perfect example of everything you’ve just said and he always has his live and local channel on when I get in his car. I’m a podcast girl most of the time, but a lot of it is live and local that they’ve turned into a podcast, and I can listen to which pieces I want when I want to. We’ve talked about a lot of things that are very positive and forward-thinking. Let’s talk a little bit about a challenge you’re facing and how you’re handling that, and then to wrap up, I want to get your pieces of advice for women in sales in general or maybe thinking about going into media sales. Jaime, do you want to take the challenge question first?

Jaime Frankel: For me, the biggest challenge is bringing in new young account managers, people who are willing to take a chance on a medium that is tried and true but a little bit more traditional. I think we have a little bit of a gap there when it comes to bringing in new young talent. One of the biggest challenges is just time and energy spent on recruitment, just like the rest of the world is having a challenge right now at that.

For me, I want to get young new people in to learn this industry and the time I have to devote to that sometimes is a little bit harder. We’re all tasked with doing more with less resources and that can be challenging. Many times, those things that should be on your A-list of priorities end up getting moved over to the parking lot list and unfortunately, that parking lot list goes unlooked at and unaccomplished many times. For me, to bring in a new group of young energetic account managers who want to do this as a career so that we could continue with it, that would be my biggest challenge.

Gina Stracuzzi: Well, as you mentioned, you’re not alone. Working with universities, especially ones that have sports programs might be interesting. But again, as you say, it takes time to nurture those people. One of the challenges that companies have as they bring in these energetic and ready fresh faces, they get a little lost in the shuffle and a little disillusion because there isn’t time to properly nurture them. That is a challenge for everyone. Deana, do you have something you’d like to add to that?

Deana Poole: Sure. I think a challenge that I’ve been struggling with – and it’s been a few years now and I don’t see it ending, really – is what I call the Buzz Lightyear syndrome. I think a lot of digital tools which we have are this shiny new object and this fun new toy for a lot of marketers, especially young marketers. I think they oftentimes turn their nose up at radio and say, “I’m doing so great with [insert digital tool here], why would I bother with radio?” It’s been a challenge, sometimes I can overcome it and sometimes I can’t, to show them that when you incorporate radio into your digital strategy, it is like throwing kerosene on your digital fire. Everything that you’re doing digitally, you need that person to come and engage with your brand online to start that engine. That’s what radio does, radio invites them to the party. You’re throwing a digital party over here, radio is inviting all the people that didn’t even know you exist.

That’s a big challenge that I have, I think a lot of times young marketers especially look at radio as “the thing my dad listens to” and it’s just not the case. We have data, I can show you charts, graphs, rankers and ratings, it doesn’t matter. What I have is advertisers that are getting a return and who have seen a huge support in their digital investments because of their investment in radio. It does take a while, we’re not the new shiny object, we’ve been around forever. We do have a lot of things that make us shiny and fun and cutting-edge, but to get a young marketer and sometimes other marketers to see that radio really is a very viable tool to help enhance everything you’re already doing, that’s been a challenge for me. Sometimes I overcome it, sometimes I don’t.

Gina Stracuzzi: We’re officially out of time except for one last piece of advice that you would leave any of the Women in Sales that are listening, or even men in sales. For sales in general, what piece of advice would you give them? Deana, since we stopped with you, why don’t we just continue? Then we’ll give Jamie the last word.

Deana Poole: My #1 piece of advice for anyone in sales is be coachable. I think one of the reasons that I’ve had the success that I’ve had is I really try to not be the smartest person in the room. I’m constantly reading a book, going to a podcast, watching a webinar, asking questions that no one wants to ask, raising my hand, trying to figure things out. We just rolled out this really cool digital thing with one of our partners in Michigan. I said, Jaime, I don’t understand this. Got on a Zoom with him and he walked me through it again. I’m a senior salesperson, I am supposed to know, I have all the answers, but accepting the fact that I don’t and seeking people to teach me and really remaining coachable every day, I think that has really given me a little bit of an edge and kept me moving forward. In any industry, just be coachable and continue to teach yourself.

Gina Stracuzzi: Outstanding advice. Jaime, what would you like to add?

Jaime Frankel: I couldn’t agree more with Deana about being coachable, and you can’t coach others if you’re not coachable. From a leadership perspective, for me, my advice to everybody is be the leader you want to be led by. Just because you are a certain role within your organization doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader. You should lead from all positions. If you see something that needs to be changed, worked on or done, do it because that comradery within your team is so important. You don’t have to have a leadership title in order to be a leader in your organization or on your team. My advice to anybody in any role is lead and be the leader you want to be led by, so that people can see what your expectations are and live by the way that you’re living. You can sit there and complain about what you don’t have or you can create it and be that change.

Gina Stracuzzi: Wonderful, you guys are awesome and you make a great team. Beasley is lucky to have you both. Thank you very much for stopping by and spending time with us. I hope you’ll stay in touch and maybe come back in a year, let us know what’s happening in radio then.

Jaime Frankel: Thank you, Gina, this was so much fun. We really appreciate the opportunity.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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