Radio Sales Executives or Account Managers are responsible for generating the income for Commercial Radio stations from advertising sales and sponsorship. This primarily involves selling the benefits of Radio as an advertising medium, to both media agencies and individual clients.
The role is only found in Commercial Radio, although staff and volunteers in Community radio are also responsible for selling radio advertising.
Radio Sales Executives may work in a small team for a single station, or as part of a larger regional or national department, serving a number of stations or radio brands. Marketing Executives, or individuals in similar roles, are based in radio stations throughout the UK.
Although Sales Executives' specific responsibilities may vary to some extent, depending on each station's requirements, essentially the job requires the achievement of agreed targets to sustain the radio station's revenue. This requires both creativity and a natural flair for sales.
What is the job?
Radio Sales Executives' prime objective is to achieve agreed revenue targets on a regular basis.
To do this they have to undertake a range of different activities: establish and develop long-term business relationships; source, identify and secure new business opportunities; fact find and take briefs from clients and prospects; generate creative solutions for clients, and present campaign proposals; make the sale; and deliver accurate reports and forecasts of revenue.
Sales Executives are expected to work closely with colleagues involved in marketing, sponsorship, promotions, events, publicity and programming. They should ensure that station output and other activities support revenue generation, and that clients receive a high quality and consistent service at all times.
Although some of their work is office-based, they must also spend time out of the office meeting with key clients and prospects, gathering information, making presentations, and when necessary, attending relevant events to network with clients or pursue prospects. The job may involve long hours, juggling many clients and prospects, knowing how to prioritise, and meeting exacting targets and deadlines.
Sales Executives must also expect an element of routine administrative work: maintaining records, producing reports and forecasts and assisting with the resolution of problems about payments and revenue collection. They are also expected to ensure that their work complies with media law, regulation and industry codes.
Typical Career Routes
Although there is no set entry route for Sales Executives in Radio, employers expect candidates to have relevant experience in sales, and possibly some professional qualifications. A common career path for those in sales is to start out in telephone sales, and move into field sales - selling to clients face-to-face.
Many Sales Executives in Radio follow this path in related media environments before moving into Radio. They may have a relevant degree, or professional qualifications, or training acquired through their work.
In some cases they are taken on in more junior roles in Radio Sales teams, and progress by acquiring knowledge and experience on the job. Some of the larger broadcasters offer limited places on direct entry schemes, which may include the opportunity to work in sales.
Whatever an individual's qualifications, employers expect to see evidence of interest in, and hands-on experience of, radio broadcasting, particularly skills acquired in community radio, student or hospital radio.
Once in post, career progression for Sales Executives may involve moving to a larger station; or from a local team to a regional or national marketing department, progressing to Sales Manager and ultimately Sales Director roles. Some Sales Executives may choose to pursue a career in a wider business market, based on their transferable sales skills. Other may develop their media specialism and progress within Radio, or move to other media organisations and related fields. In Commercial Radio many Station Managers or Directors have sales backgrounds.
Essential Knowledge & Skills
Radio Sales Executives need the following:
- ability and desire to sell
- ability to think creatively and generate original ideas
- excellent writing and presentation skills
- knowledge of the Radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
- familiarity with the increasing range of communications platforms, and how they can be used in advertising and marketing campaigns
- the confidence and tenacity to pursue leads, overcome obstacles, and secure deals
- resilience and the ability to handle rejection
- business acumen, and the ability to make accurate forecasts of revenue
- attention to detail
- ability to work independently but also as part of a team
- self-motivation and adaptability
- ability to work effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
- determination, diplomacy, and excellent interpersonal skills
- a thorough knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulations as they affect radio sales
- knowledge of when it is necessary, and how to acquire the relevant clearances and licenses, including copyright and music clearances
- knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
- a high level of IT skills - particularly good word-processing and data handling skills
Training and qualifications
Formal qualifications are not essential, and some Sales Executives work their way up from entry level roles in sales, secured without a degree. However employers may regard a degree in Business Management, Marketing or Communications as an advantage for those seeking to pursue a career in Radio sales.
Places on direct entry trainee schemes run by some of the larger broadcasters are highly sought after, as opportunities are limited, and such schemes do not recruit on a regular basis. Although a degree or equivalent may be a requirement for some of these schemes, others may specifically target non-graduates.
For those considering higher education there are a wide range of relevant courses on offer, but it is important to determine whether a particular course offers a good practical grounding in marketing and business; has good contacts with the relevant industry sectors; and encourages students to undertake work placements to gain experience of applying the knowledge and skills they have acquired. For those interested in working in Radio Sales, such work experience should, wherever possible, be in Radio or similar media environments.
Qualifications and short courses are also available from a range of professional associations and awarding bodies in the fields of Sales and Marketing. These are aimed specifically at those who wish to develop their sales skills - whether they are just starting out in the profession, or are established practitioners seeking further promotion opportunities
Once in post, Radio Sales Executives are expected to develop their skills on the job, and they may choose to undertake further professional qualifications independently. Most employers also offer a variety of forms of training to keep the skills and knowledge of their sales staff up-to-date, and to introduce new technologies. This training may be offered in-house, or supplied by external providers, depending on the size and structure of different Radio organizations and employers.
Where to go for more information
For detailed media careers information and advice, contact one of the free careers helplines. Call 08080 300 900 in England (also available to callers from Wales and Northern Ireland) or 08458 502 502 in Scotland, or visit the website http://www.creativeskillset.org/careers/
- Radio Academy - industry wide charity dedicated to promoting excellence in UK audio broadcasting and production, running a comprehensive programme of conferences, masterclasses and other networking events across the country
- Radio Centre - industry association for UK Commercial Radio funded by the majority of stations - database of groups and stations, Radio Centre Player, information and advice on work placements and how to get job in Radio
- BBC - sites for all BBC national and local radio stations, listen live or listen again to much BBC Radio output, information and advice on work experience and jobs
- Community Media Association
- Student Radio Association
- Hospital Broadcasting Association
- BECTU - the UK media and entertainment trade union with information on pay and conditions, training, and access to individual advice on personal and contract issues
- National Union of Journalism - the trade union for journalists in the UK and Ireland - with information on pay and conditions, training, legal advice and more.
- Radio Today - radio industry news site
- Radio Now - Radio station directory, listen live to many UK radio stations
- Advertising Standards Authority - independent regulator for advertisements, sales promotion and direct marketing in the UK; details of radio advertising standards code
- Marketing & Sales Standards Setting Body - best practice standards for Marketing, Marketing Communications, Sales and Telesales, career information and other resources
- Chartered Institute of Sales & Marketing Management - UK professional body for salespeople, awarding body for qualifications in selling and sales management, list of training providers and other resources
- Chartered Institute of Marketing - the leading international body for professional marketers, details of qualifications and training and further resources
- The Marketing Society - network for senior marketers, some articles and other information available to non-members on website
- Broadcast the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and Radio industry
- Media Guardian
- Campaign weekly magazine for the advertising industry
- Marketing brings its readers the biggest and freshest news in the industry and delves into the issues behind the stories
- Marketing Week
- Creating Powerful Radio, Valerie Geller ISBN-10: 0240519280
- Essential Radio Skills, Peter Stewart ISBN-10: 0713679131
- The Broadcast Voice, Jenni Mills ISBN-10: 0240519396
- Presenting on TV & Radio, Janet Trewin ISBN-10: 024051906X
- Marketing: Concepts & Strategies, Sally Dibbs, Lyndon Simkin, William M. Pride & O.C. Ferrell ISBN-13: 978-0618532032
- Making Waves: Radio On The Verge, Mark Ramsey ISBN-10: 1440102570
- An Advertiser's Guide to Better Radio Advertising, Andrew Ingram & Mark Barber ISBN-10: 0470012927
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Last update 2009.
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