Are You Even Listening? My 5 Biggest Peeves with Radio Ad Sales People

An ad manager vents his spleen about radio ad salespeople.

My initial experience as an in-house ad agency was in a B2B setting, so I’d never been involved with consumer-facing advertising directly. Then I joined a company that did both B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) sales. Though most of our advertising was toward the rest of North America, we did spend a small amount locally in support of events we sponsored.

My first radio campaign was an illuminating experience. Until we ran those first radio ads, no radio salespeople had ever called on me. It was like I didn’t exist. Once they heard our name on the radio, they came out of the woodwork like cockroaches.

When the radio ad reps called on me that after first campaign, I told each one, frankly and very directly, that I didn’t intend to do any advertising till summer, but they should call me in June because of a major event we were planning in July.

Did anyone call that June?

Only one station called, the one we ran the small campaign with that previous winter.

Actually, another station did contact me, just as our event was about to run, when it was too late to properly plan anything with them. The day before our event I received a fax from a second radio network telling me about some kind of special Green Bay Packers promotion.

Apparently no one believed me when I said straight up that I planned to spend money on radio advertising that summer. They assumed I was using this as a nice way of saying no.

I’d invited every salesperson in town to call me in June, and only the one followed through.

It should be noted that this particular company that I began working with didn’t exactly execute flawlessly over the years. My rep was outstanding, with lots of experience and social intelligence. She knew how to make me feel the station was on our side.

Unfortunately, the support team seemed asleep at the wheel. Bad internal communications was only part of it.


  1. Wasting my time.
  2. Trying to sell me before you’ve heard what I’m trying to do.
  3. Lack of interest in my business.
  4. Not keeping your word. (eg. You say that a script will be sent to me for review on Friday, but it shows up the following Tuesday. The commercial is to run Thursday and we haven’t cut the spot yet. I dislike the script, but you don’t get me another till end of day Wednesday and we still haven’t cut the spot. And on and on.)
  5. Scheduling my time without checking my schedule.

I’m retired now, cleaning out old files. I found the above notes and thought they’d be useful to a young salesperson just cutting her teeth. I’m sure you’ll find that these tips don’t just apply to advertising sales.

It’s a tough profession, but the good ones (whom you’re competing with) are rare. If you put yourself in the client’s shoes and really care about the client’s aims, you’ll be a mile ahead of the herd. I guarantee it.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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