Pat Bryson: Go Deep! Know the Influencers

    • 1373 posts
    August 11, 2023 3:12 PM PDT

    Go Deep! Know the Influencers

    by Pat Bryson

    All of us face attrition of some sort every year. We've been making a study of why businesses leave us. Every case may be different, but we've identified the main reasons we lose business:

    1. A business closes
    2. A business sells
    3. The owner retires
    4. New management
    5. A change in marketing philosophy
    6. They don't recognize results
    7. We mess up
    8. We don't take care of them after the sale


    Some of these, 1-5, we can't always control. We must prepare for them anyway. Today I want to talk about Numbers 4 and 5.

    One of my markets has seen a rash of cancellations or cutting back in a short period of time. Each situation has different elements, but they all share one thing in common. In each case, we had been calling on our designated person, but we had no other contacts within that business. Now, either the designated person has left, or they have a new boss. Oops! Now we start all over.

    How can we prepare for this eventuality?

    As we work with our clients, find out who the influencers are for that business. It might be the front desk person. It might be a spouse. The more people we know inside the business, the better armed we are to survive a new decision-maker. These "friends" can vouch for us. They can also give us useful information about the inner workings of the business. Who really makes the decisions? What is the decision-making process? Who might be the "power behind the throne"? Can our outgoing contact give us valuable information about the new person so that we make our initial contact armed with details that will encourage a new relationship quickly?

    If we are calling on a marketing director, we should try to get to know Mr. or Ms. Big. One of my clients had a great relationship with the marketing director. When it came time to renew, the salesperson asked for an increase. We were told that Mr. Big said, "Spend the budget anyway you want, but don't raise it." Many marketing directors can spend the money allocated, but they can't increase budgets. Many times they can't even decide which marketing vehicle to use. They are directed to spend X amount in radio, Y amount in digital, Z amount wherever.

    The same thing applies with ad agencies. It's tricky to develop a relationship with a client without incurring the wrath of the agency. But ultimately, the client is the boss. If they designate money to a particular station, the agency must comply. In most agencies, we call on the buyer. What about the planner? The Account Executive? In larger agencies, the decisions as to where money will be spent are made long before the buyer sees the buy specs. All they do is decide which radio stations to buy, not how much of the total budget radio will get. And, despite what agencies will say when on the stage at RAB or state association meetings, how much success have you had in pitching a special promotion to a buyer? If it doesn't fit in their numerical code, it doesn't happen. But pitching a special promotion to a planner or an AE may give you and the client a "win". Do you know the upper echelon of your agencies?

    So much of the time, we call on those who can say, "NO", but we fail to develop a relationship with those who ultimately can say, "YES". As we strive to manage our attrition, go deep. Know the influencers. Develop advocates in your businesses.

    Happy Selling! 


    Pat Bryson is the founder of Bryson Broadcasting International, a consulting firm that works with radio stations around the world to increase revenue by raising the skill level of their sales staffs. Her client list spans from the United States to Canada, Europe, Central Asia and Australia. She has been named one of Radio Ink’s Most Influential Women in Radio for 2018 and 2019.

    Pat publishes the Bryson Broadcasting International Newsletter twice monthly and is the author of A Road Map to Success in High-Dollar Broadcast Sales and Successful Broadcast Sales: Thriving in Change.

    You may contact Pat at [email protected] or visit her website at
    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at August 11, 2023 3:12 PM PDT

    • 118 posts
    September 8, 2023 5:20 AM PDT

    What a wonderful article. I was always taught to befriend staff and management, treating them with respect because they will tell you what you need to know to rise above the herd of media with their hands out. 

    The importance of cultivating new accounts is so essential. People sell, retire or just move on every year and no matter how well you work with that business, you lose if you don't have a new client or two to replace those what fall by the wayside. 

    I look for hot buttons and something that i can do to outshine my competitors. The less 'ordinary' you can be, the better. I was asked to be a judge at a beauty contest where the winner would go on to compete for "Miss Texas". All were beautiful ladies, not just outwardly but that beauty extended to who they were. Of the thirty odd ladies competing, one outshined them all. She had the beauty, poise and intelligence to stand out quite easily and not one of us judging concluded any other lady was on the same level. She won hands down. Why? She didn't just provide the usual answers. For her, it seemed nothing was scripted but her words and actions were from the heart. And she was humble. That was a valuable lesson for me. It's not enough to be the usual. I have to stand out genuinely and work harder to win the coveted trusted top spot.