ANALYSIS: HOW TO SELL TO ... Jonathan Gillespie - OMD UK’s cagey radio chief loves to bore sales people to death

If you fancy yourself in a pair of hipsters or wear belt-free trousers, think twice before pitching to OMD UK’s radio chief Jonathan Gillespie.

If you fancy yourself in a pair of hipsters or wear belt-free

trousers, think twice before pitching to OMD UK’s radio chief Jonathan


’One of my mottos is ’never trust a man who doesn’t wear a belt,’’ he


If you are in radio sales, a belt might be a good investment. Gillespie

runs the UK’s second largest radio buying point with a budget of pounds

31 million and clients such as Vodafone, Boots and Camelot.

Gillespie left university in 1990 with an MA in English literature. He

then worked for Independent Radio Sales and Virgin Radio as client

account manager, before jumping into the agency world.

He joined OMD UK as director of radio in 1998 and sees his sales

experience as invaluable to his understanding of both sides of the

industry. ’I have a pretty good idea of what makes sales people tick

and, yes, it is always cash,’ he says. Gillespie, on the other hand, is

a little more complex in his approach.

He explains: ’My first boss told me that if you can’t convince people

with rational argument, then bore them to death. I have been operating

on that principle for the past two years - with excellent results. Never

use a short word when a long one will be more confusing.’

Indeed, if it’s straightforward information you’re after, you might try

looking elsewhere. Gillespie keeps his trade secrets close to his chest

and is fairly evasive about what makes him tick. ’What’s the size of

your team?’ I ask. ’No comment,’ comes the reply.

He does admit, however, that an over-riding paranoia and pride lurks

behind his work. ’I hate being beaten and find it hard to stand down

graciously,’ he admits.

Gillespie has remained consistent in his tastes since his student days,

when he wrote his dissertation on independent local radio and the 1990

Broadcasting Act.

’My anal interest in radio started when I couldn’t get Will Carling to

discuss the forthcoming professionalisation of rugby, so I had to find

another dissertation topic.’

A South Londoner with a mistrust of anything north of the river -

’bandit country’ - Gillespie is equally cagey about his life outside

work. He used to steam his way through the literary classics but doesn’t

get the time these days. He says he enjoys a single lifestyle but

doesn’t elaborate.

However, he admits he likes listening to Radio 5 and enjoys a good

sports debate.


- Rugby


- South London


- Falseness

- People who dunk biscuits in tea

- North London.


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