How to Get into the Lucrative “32 Club”

Rock music fans are aware of the “27 Club,” that horrible category of talented musicians who died at age 27. That list includes Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and others. Fortunately, the “32 Club” is not so morbid and its members are at the top of the local broadcast sales game.

Top billers in local broadcast sales have more in common than you think. One of the most important differences between them and their lesser billing fellow salespeople is the number 32. That number represents the number of average accounts they keep on the air each month.

Now I’m not talking about little squirrely accounts with acorn-sized budgets. I’m talking about clients that spend the average monthly billing for an account on your station. So let’s say you add up all of your monthly billing and then divide by the number of accounts that make up that billing. Then you come up with an average order amount. Let’s say that average number on your station is $2,500. If that were the case in your market at your station, then 32 times $2500 would be $80,000 in billing for that “32 Club” salesperson.

When I talk to sales managers around the country and they check the record, most agree that in fact, the salesperson at the top of their game is averaging about 32 accounts on the air in a particular month. I am somewhat of an expert in this matter, as I was the top biller at our station and looking back at old data, hmmmm…guess what? It turns out I averaged 32 average accounts on the air in any given month.

Why 32? Because that figure is about the number of accounts we can manage and service at one time before mistakes start being made. Mistakes like forgetting to write up an order, or worse perhaps, forgetting to cancel an order. I personally knew a San Antonio radio salesperson who consistently had 45 average sized accounts on the air each month. Was she busy? Hell yes. She also ultimately flamed out and left the industry (she currently sits at home knitting things that resemble biscuits and has 32 cats).

How do you get into the “32 Club?” You work hard, but you also work smarter. Long-term (annual contracts) is the best way to get there. So by the time you enter the new month, 75-80 percent of your monthly goal is already booked.

I was asked, “Why do you have so much long-term business?” I would answer it was because I was lazy. It’s too hard to try to be a top-biller when you’re starting every month from scratch.

Of course another way is simply by asking for more money. You are the expert on how much your client should be spending. Once you’ve shown the decision maker beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plan for his/her success is better than their plan, that’s when they hand you the key and let you drive. If I have a great creative idea, I ask for more money. I’ll take the station’s average sales amount per month and ask the client to spend that much per week.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? That the client says NO? I’ve done research and so far I’ve only heard of two media salespeople that were actually murdered for asking for too much money. So think about it, your odds are pretty good!

When you’re just starting out, reaching for 10 to 15 accounts on the air per month is a good goal. More seasoned reps should be shooting for 20-25. The leap to 32 is hard, but not as difficult as you might think. At 25 average accounts on the air you’re already used to a higher level of multi-tasking.

If you are a musician and you are 27 you must be terrified. But if you’re in broadcast sales and you’re in the “32 Club,” at least you’re probably not too worried about money.