Scott Maenner, head of local sales at Madison Media Partners, grew up in northwest Chicago and attended college at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He brings energy to the office with his booming voice, eloquent vocabulary and personable demeanor.
Many would be hard pressed to find out, however, that he’s rather quiet and reserved when he finds time away from work. He spends his energy gardening and watering plants. He likes walks in the Milton, Wis., woods and spending time with his family.
Jacob Owca, Madison Media Partners summer intern, sat down with Scott to learn how he and his rich personality grew into the role he holds today. You can connect with Scott on LinkedIn here.
What led you to a career in sales and marketing?
I got my degree in business and communications. That kind of told you right there what I wanted to do in some shape or form. A friend from college called me. He told me there was an advertising job at a radio station in Rockton, Ill. I said, “Radio sales? Like selling ads? No way.” But he told me to just go.
I was in the area, so I interviewed. I was enthusiastic. I was wearing my clip-on tie. I was super prepared. I had a choice between one large corporate entity in radio and a small one in Rockton. I told myself, “If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do this at the ground level.”
A salesperson was born.
I walked into the radio station on my first day, it was a little house in a cornfield. The staff was fired the previous Friday for lack of performance. I was the only person in the building except for the secretary, who just told me to pick my desk. I found a sheet of paper on a desk with a list of clients and I picked that desk.
The reason I tell you this is because that’s how I learned to sell. I received no training from the sales manager. He just told me, “Sell ‘em,” and when I asked, “Sell ‘em what?” he replied, “Sell ‘em the radio station!” So I took that list of clients, got in my Chevy, and knocked on the doors of our clients so I could have conversations with them.
How he mastered his craft.
That first day in Rockton has been the theme of my career to this day. Go out, find a prospect, and engage. Ask clients questions. Ask them about their business. Ask them what works for their business and what doesn’t. Understand them. I learned it the first day on the road. I actually came to love it. I still train people now exactly how I was not trained then.
What brought you to Madison Media Partners?
In 2015, I grew really tired of radio. I did everything. I ran markets, I was on board meetings, and I really wanted to get a fresh start. I went home, sat in the woods, walked the trails and did some thinking. I asked myself, “For the next 10 years, what media outlet, what thing is gonna continue to be around?” I kept coming back to the newspaper.
You might think I’m crazy because everyone I talked to about this — my colleagues, my friends — they all laughed at me and said, “newspaper?!” The thing is, though, the newspaper is [the epicenter] of content. It’s content on the written page. Madison.com is content. [Our] video is content. What you, Jacob, are doing right now is creating content.
I believe that newspaper groups in cities that are growing and have an educated base will continue to be around. So I saw a job in Madison for a general sales manager.
The philosophy behind the role.
I knew at some point in my life I would be communicating. I saw as I got older that in selling, all you’re doing is communicating. I learned a long time ago that I got into a pretty high level position because I led by example. At a place I used to work, the general manager of the group I was with saw me doing spreadsheets and sitting in my office. He was a mentor to me. He hit me between the eyes and said, “What are you doing?”
You can ask me to get up in front of a crowd of 10,000 people and talk to them, and I will. I don’t do spreadsheets. I’m not supposed to be doing spreadsheets all alone. What I do is I talk to people.
It reminded me what makes me who I am. My door is always open, and I’m willing to do anything a sales rep would do. That’s my philosophy: Be there with them.
What do you love about Madison?
I love the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Aldo Leopold was a Madison conservancy guy, very well grounded in wildlife and nature. He makes a profound case for why we should keep places like the nature center alive. Everyone says Olbrich Botanical Gardens first, and Olbrich is great, but I also really like the Aldo Leopold Nature Center.
Madison motivates me. In Madison, you have to be straightforward. It challenges you to be better and smarter, and to know your stuff. There are sales markets where I can make sales calls and be completely unprepared and be fine. But in this marketplace, you’re going to get questions about content, about reach, about frequency, because they challenge you to not just be good — to be great.