Last week I talked about the 4 Universal Ad Sales Truths You Should Know. This week I am going to discuss them in more detail and give you some ways to overcome the challenges we all face in the ad sales game.
1. People don’t do business with strangers. Most of us have been taught since we were little, “Don’t talk to strangers!” This age-old directive guides the way people think as adults and as buyers of products and services. For me, ad sales success came when I realized that in each phase of the sales process, I needed to inject information that was relevant and personal to the person to whom I was pitching. Otherwise, I would just be met with the standard, cold “I don’t know you, so why should I even talk to you, let alone trust you?”
To that end, before I make even my first prospecting sales call, I research LinkedIn®, Facebook® and the Internet for helpful information about my prospect that will help me soften up the prospects’ “stranger danger” mindset. I also think of some details from my own personal life that I can share. For example, maybe the prospect and I went to the same college or we both love horses. Take some time to find some common ground that will make everyone at ease at the first point of contact. Every email and every voice mail allows me the opportunity to prove that I am relevant, vs scary or a time-sucker– and I let them know that their success is paramount to me.
2. People don’t like change. If you ask most adults to name two things they hate, they will say they hate change and making decisions. At first thought they might say they hate rude people and their boss, but once you dig a bit deeper, you will get to real issues very common to most business people. As an ad sales person, you have to fully understand that you are asking this person to make a change from their current comfort zone to try something new, (your media product), or maybe you are asking them to switch from a specific competitor to you.
Either way, you are asking for them to make a change, and people dislike change. So, what can you do to help make this change easier to tolerate? For me, the answer was found in sharing success stories with my prospect. I have at least ten really good, really relevant success stories to share. I wrap my entire presentation in stories of success. If you want a customer to make a change, they will be much more willing to try it if they are not the “pioneer” or they recognize that their peers are having success with your product or service. How many success stories do you have to share?
3. People don’t buy what they don’t understand. Very few people buy advertising products or services blind with no background detail. By nature, people are adverse to risk. Your advertising success stories from step #2 will help with this as well, but I like to hedge my bets by asking probing questions and then using visuals to tell my sales story to help my client really understand what I am selling. I match the client’s answers to a visual presentation with vibrant data sheets and pricing sheets to show how we can work together.
The level of the prospects’ comprehension of my products and services went through the roof when I switched to a more visual sales approach. This is not so much about bars and graphs as it is about show and tell. I wrap up by asking a manager to take my ideas to their boss for approval.
4. People don’t like to make hard decisions. It is imperative that you make it very easy for people to buy media from you and your company. You have to be very clear how your advertising solutions will solve their problems, save them time or make them money.
For example, I recently noticed that clients were taking as long as 14 days to return my agreements. In some cases, the client would phone me to say they would sign and fax my agreement back within 60 minutes; four days would pass before I would hear back from them. To solve this problem and make it easier for my customers, I signed up with Adobe® EchoSign® and began to present my contracts for an online electronic signature. My record for getting a signature back is 39 seconds after it was sent! This small tweak changed my story of success.
Here’s another: A coaching client of mine discovered that their contract contained a paragraph that caused issues for nearly every single person whose signature was required. We presented this issue to an attorney, and we all worked to re-write the paragraph. Since that small tweak, he has had no issues at all and his contracts come back in three days or less. Make it super-easy for people to buy from you.
If you follow these guidelines, you will better understand your prospects and their needs and they will be more willing to sign on your dotted line. And you will be moving toward meeting or exceeding your ad sales goals.
More about Ryan Dohrn: Ryan is President of 360 Ad Sales Training, an internet & sales consulting firm focused on developing print and online revenue strategies for magazine publishers.
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