Cumulus Eyes Moving to Inside Sales

Managers within Cumulus fear that the company has decided on taking its sales force inside.

Among their concerns: that local Cumulus markets will someday no longer have outside sales reps.

Instead, they expect Cumulus to substitute an inside sales team based at their Atlanta headquarters calling on business all over the country.

One executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the fear of retribution said, "No legitimate local business owner will advertise with a radio station conglomerate in Atlanta when they are used to negotiating one on one with a local sales professional".

Why the move to inside sales at Cumulus?

Some suspect it is the ability to pay 4% commission rates rather than the 16% they currently pay their Cumulus salespeople.

Some market managers have lost key sales people since Cumulus launched its CSOS system that many of their employees dislike. The top down, big brother sales approach is accompanied by what some consider many distractions to face-to-face selling.

Heard at the station level: that this inside sales force could total 50 to 100 people based at Cumulus central command in Atlanta under the watchful eye of John and Lew Dickey and their lieutenants.

If the inside sales force becomes reality as employees suspect, it could be up and running within months saving the company on sales commissions.

Right now Cumulus plays loose with their sales people by mandating so-called "no charge" orders that come from Atlanta. This business must run as ordered and the local clusters do not receive credit for it to make budgets or count toward bonuses.


Some Cumulus workers swear that:

"Mark my words though, Cumulus is going to start selling advertising that covers all their clusters from in house, and soon they will be washing their hands of outside sales people. Just think of the money they'll save. No more 22% or 16% commissions when they can pay 4% and cover multiple clusters. No more General Sales Managers when you can hire a cheap Market Manager from a Cintas that can run the whole show".

There is little doubt that Dickey and company will likely sell this program as the next step in reinventing radio.

In another way, one of the largest radio groups will be making a move toward commodity selling to match the lack of local programming focus at the station level.

The plan by the major companies that have consolidated the most stations appears to be -- run repeater radio with minimal local focus and without expensive local personalities and now the revelation that one group -- Cumulus -- may soon match the programming cost efficiencies with phone bank selling from headquarters.

There are many people in radio who do not want to see what has become obvious to the rest of us over the past few years.

Local radio is being replaced with cheap content and soon -- cheap sales.

There is another serious side effect.

As many talented managers have already left the radio industry for other jobs, it will become increasingly difficult to recruit the kind of managers and content providers of which radio once had an abundance.

The dumbing down of local radio is in full swing at Cumulus.

We may have grown up loving radio but soon the closest you can get to that "lovin' feelin'" is to attend a reunion of a formerly great station that had it right from the beginning.

Local content, promotions and contests.

Personalities, news and service that fits the format.

A community connection.

Not sales phone banks and repeater radio -- a prescription for short-term profit at the expense of long-term gain.

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