Think Like a Chess Master to Boost Ad Sales!

Have you ever heard of Paul Charles Morphy?  He is considered to have been the greatest chess master of his era. Many said he knew every move he would make before the game even began.  Paul was one of the best strategic players of chess in the world.

So why is it then, when I accompany an account executive for coaching purposes on a sales call, the account rep will talk about their media product for the first 20 minutes of the meeting? Where’s the strategy in that approach?

Change the approach to change the outcome.

First, let’s look at why salespeople sometimes talk too much. It’s usually due to a combination of poor training and fear.

  • If an ad sales rep hasn’t learned to ask questions and proceeds to dominate the conversation, that’s poor training.
  • If an ad sales rep worries about the outcome of the meeting because they don’t know what to expect, that’s based on fear.

Instead, focus on the results of your meeting by thinking of each question you ask as a calculated move in a game of chess. Create questions that help get you closer to the anticipated outcome you desire.

How to get to that winning moment where you ask for the order:

By now you have asked really good qualifying questions in the meeting. Now lead them to the point where they realize that you really care about their business and their success with your media company.

Here are five of the most critical sales questions you can ask to move toward the close:

  1. If we could create the perfect ad for you, what would it look like and what is the outcome you expect from it?  (The goal of this question is to manage advertiser expectations from day one.)
  2. How many times does a new customer need to see your advertising message before they make a decision to do business with you?  (The goal of this question is to establish with the advertiser that they need to do more. They need to advertise in multiple ways on multiple days!)
  3. What ad campaigns/types of ads have worked for you over the last 12 months to meet your goals?  Why did the ads work? What ads did not work, and why?   (The goal of this question is to see if there are patterns you can repeat and to identify patterns not to repeat.)
  4. Are there any new products or services you will debut in the next 6 months?  (The goal of this question is to learn about the future demands your customer might have.)
  5. Who is your perfect customer?  (The goal of this question is to find a match with your demo.)

Finally, remember that the meeting must be about the advertiser and their needs, their requirements and their goals.

Like playing a game of chess, always be thinking ahead during your sales calls.  

Carefully listen to the answer of each question you ask and expand it into a relationship-building moment. Take notes and be prepared to follow up each question with another.

And remember if ad sales were easy… everyone would be doing it!


About Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award-winning ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant and in international motivational speaker. He is the author of the best-selling ad sales book, Selling Backwards.  Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media and 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique ad sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation. Ryan is also the Publisher of Sales Training World.


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