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WHAT TO SAY DURING FOLLOW-UP CALL

QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:

I attended your AIR PERSONALITY PLUS+ seminar in a few months ago and purchased PERSONALITY RADIO and have gotten so many good ideas and "a-ha's!!" from them both.

I just sent my tape and resume to four stations and will be following up this week. Do you have any pointers on effective follow-up phone calls?

DAN REPLIES:

Check your copy of PERSONALITY RADIO again; you'll find quite a few good ideas there. Also, you should get a copy of our CAREER CONTROL: RADIO JOB-HUNTING, INTERVIEWING & CONTRACTS.

A few suggestions:

1. Script out your answers to "the gatekeeper's" most likely questions:
    "Who's calling?"
    "What is this in reference to?"
    "Who are you with?"

"Who's calling?"
    You should avoid this altogether by giving your name when you ask for the PD. (Let's call him Ed Programmer.)

"What is this in reference to?"
    "Ed should be expecting my call."

(Well, he should be expecting it, because in your cover letter you told him you'd give him a call in a few days to make sure he received your package! This answer implies that of course Ed knows why you're calling, because he's expecting you to call! It also implies that you are calling not because you want to speak with Ed but rather that Ed wants to speak with you. You are not saying that, because that would be lying. But if the receptionist decides to interpret it that way, who are you to correct her?)

"Who are you with?"
    "Actually, Ed's expecting my call, so he knows who I am."

2. Script out your opening line to the receptionist to avoid sounding like a scared job-seeker.

Here's how most job-seekers do it:

"(Mumbled Station Name), howcanIhelpyou?"

"Hello, may I speak with Ed Programmer, please?"

"Who's calling?"

"Ummm....Mary Smith."

"And who are you with?"

"Ummm....Well, nobody, I guess. Just me."

"And what is this regarding?"

"Well, I sent him a tape the other day, and I just wanted to see if...if he got it."

HERE'S HOW YOU AVOID ALL THAT:

"(Mumbled Station Name), howcanIhelpyou?"

(Briskly, self-confidently...As though you are calling your best friend or brother at his office; you probably don't worry about "getting through" in that circumstance, and your voice undoubtedly expresses your self-confidence.) "Hi, this is Mary Smith calling for Ed Programmer, please."

(Note that there is no question mark at the end of that sentence. You are politely directing the receptionist to transfer your call; you are not asking.)

Half the time, this is enough; the next thing you know the PD's extension is ringing.

Here's what happens the other half of the time:

"(Mumbled Station Name), howcanIhelpyou?"

"Hi, this is Mary Smith calling for Ed Programmer, please."

"And what is this regarding?"

"Oh, Ed's expecting my call, and he knows who I am."

"One moment."

At this point, you're worrying, "Well, yes, but what happens when she tells Ed Programmer that I'm on the line, that he's expecting my call, and that he knows who I am....When he probably doesn't even know I exist?"

Answer: After giving you the third degree, every receptionist at every radio station in the world transfers the call in either one of two ways:
    1. By buzzing the PD and saying, "Mary Smith on the line."
    2. By simply forwarding the call, causing the PD's phone to ring and the PD to answer it.

3. Find out if the station has only one receptionist; most do. Find out the receptionist's name, and use it when you call:

"Hi, Barb, this is Mary Smith calling for Ed Programmer, please."

By using the receptionist's name, you immediately establish yourself as someone who is a not a stranger to the station's operation. Maybe you're a client or a co-worker or the manager's mother or a consultant. "Insiders" get treated differently than "outsiders."

By using the receptionist's first name, you clearly establish which of you is in the "power" position. Not only do you know her name (but she doesn't yet know yours), but you easily and casually address her not as "Miss Whatsis" but as "Barb." You're a Big Shot. She is just a lowly receptionist (whom your treat courteously but not solicitously).

4. Script out your opening line to the PD.

THE BIG MOMENT: The PD picks up the phone and says:

"Ed Programmer."

Here's how THIS conversation usually goes:

"Ed Programmer."

"Oh! I didn't get expect to get right through to you! Oh, my! Well....uh....Hi, Mr. Programmer, this is Mary Smith....You know, I sent you tape a last week? (Silence from the PD) Well, I was just...Uh...I just wanted to know if you got it."

"Yeah."

"Oh! Oh. Okay, well....I know you probably haven't had time to listen to it yet...."

"Yeah, it's been kinda busy. But I'll let you know. Thanks for calling."

"Oh, sure. That'll be great....Hello? Mr. Programmer? Hello?"

Instead of the above, you need to know exactly how you will begin your conversation with the PD...and exactly how you will respond to anything he might say during the conversation.

Here is one example:

"Ed Programmer."

"Hi, Ed, this is Mary Smith." (Note you do not call him "Mr. Programmer." This conversation is one professional to another.) "You should have my tape & resume on your desk. I realize you probably have a lot of tapes & resumes there. And I know you're very busy, so I'll be very brief.

"As I mentioned in my cover letter, I was born in Missouri and would dearly love to return there permanently."
    (This is an example of your "special interest" in the station. Find or create your own that is appropriate for the station you are applying to.)
    "But I am seriously considering one other station in a different state. It's in a very similar market, but it's not in Missouri. So IF you and I agreed I was right for this job and if we worked out an arrangement that satisfied both of us, frankly I'd rather work for you. And I realize you haven't had time to make a final decision yet. So I'm calling to ask if you have a definite time frame in which you'll be making your decision."

"Time frame?"

"Yes. If I know you'll definitely be able to listen to my tape this week and that you plan to make a decision by the following week, I probably can put off my own decision on what offer to accept. On the other hand, if you might not make your decision for several weeks or longer, then I would need to remove myself from the running."

(Here you are repositioning yourself from someone who is looking for a job to someone who is trying to decide where to "place" your show. You're not being pushy, you're not pleading with the PD to listen to your tape. Rather, you're offering to lighten the PD's load by telling him he shouldn't bother listening to your tape unless he's able to act decisively in hiring.)

(Very few PDs will admit that they have no idea when they'll make a hiring decision, so you'll probably get response that indicates the decision will be made soon. Then you reply:)

"Oh, good! Again, I realize you might not even have heard my tape yet; mine is just one among many. May I ask a very small favor?"

"Uh....Okay."

"My package is very easy to spot: It's a bright yellow, 9 x 12 padded envelope."

(This assumes you made it a point to send a package that COULD be quickly spotted.)

"If you get a chance to listen to the tape and you like what you hear, please give me a call this week. Like I say, if it turns out that I AM a good match for (Station), I'd really rather settle down in (City) than in another state."

Note that you are not asking the PD to dig your tape out of the pile. You're merely telling him how to find your tape IF he wants to have the chance to hire you before it's too late.

Half (probably more) the power of the message you are communicating resides in what you don't say during this conversation.

Just as with the station's receptionist, you have defined yourself not as a desperate job-seeker. Instead, you and the PD are colleagues, fellow professionals.

And assuming your tape is good enough to qualify you for the job, the PD will find you to be a much more attractive candidate.

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