Less is…Less

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Clear Channel’s recent layoffs are merely the latest in a continuing series of employment cutbacks in Radio, and certainly more reductions are coming in the days ahead. However, the elimination of sales positions is a double-edged sword.

One very successful market manager I know believed in hiring as many salespeople as possible. He felt a larger staff put more pressure on the stations inventories, driving demand and higher rates. He was willing to suffer a few poor performers—for a time—in order to achieve his sales goals.

Another successful manager demanded performance from every rep and marginal players had 90 days to become producers. Failure to achieve earned them a brief “exit interview” and a final escort to the door.

Which approach is better? My personal experience has been that the larger sales staff works best. There’s no doubt that a smaller sales staff means fewer bodies on the street and less pressure on the inventory. And in tough economic times, I would certainly monitor everyone’s performance closely. But isn’t that something we should be doing regardless of the economy?

There’s no good answer, and I would be interested in hearing about what’s working or not working in your market. Your comments are welcome.