How to Close More on the First Sales Call

It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it, that heady, addictive moment when you close a deal?

In every ad sales training workshop I teach, I loudly proclaim that feeling just never goes away. For me, it is just as fresh today as it was when I first started out. Of course, I lost sales just like any other salesperson, but I was determined. I was buoyed by enthusiasm not only to make more sales, but to learn the mechanics of selling.

What you should be doing in your first sales call:

I bring structure to the very first sales call to give myself the best chance of making a sale and to enjoy that heady feeling as often as possible. Here are the first 3 steps I take, in this order, in every single sales call:

1. Build trust.

I work at building trust from the very beginning. There are literally hundreds of books on this subject, how to build rapport with a client, sometimes light and fluffy without real substance. Who has time for that esoteric stuff? I say we have to build serious trust fast, without wasting our clients’ time or our own.

How do we do that?  I research in advance so I can say things like, “I saw on your Facebook page that you’re promoting XXX. Let’s talk about that.” Or, “I saw on your website that you’re doing this.” Or, I saw your company mentioned on the news. Tell me more.” Also during this first step, I do something no one else is doing. I begin weaving my critical questions into my introductory conversation. Real fact-finding, and building genuine trust is based on being highly relevant.

2.  Share success stories.

Success stories shared in the right way stick in people’s minds. For example, saying to your prospect, “Are you familiar with ABC Competitor?” The answer will probably be “Yes” (if you have done your homework.) Then I would say, “Would you be surprised to know they’ve been running with us for seven years? And they love us. Every time they run with us they say it’s the most effective thing they do.”

You can also use opposing logic. After you’ve told a couple of success stories to a client, throw out a name you’re pretty sure they won’t know:

  •  “Are you familiar with so and so?”
  • “No.”
  • “Exactly, they don’t advertise with us.”

Base success stories on clients you have a solid history with. These are the success stories you should be sharing. It’s a great way to get people excited.

3. Determine market presence.

If you ask an advertiser what their budget is, you’ll likely get one of three responses. A) Don’t know. B) Can’t tell you. C) Or they’ll give you some unrealistic figure off the top of their head. Whichever the answer, you won’t have the information you need. Worse, you are now in the position of having to try and match what you have to offer to their supposed “budget.”

I really like this three-tiered approach. It was presented to me by Ammie Scott of 417 Media in Springfield, Missouri: “Mr or Mrs Advertiser, when you think about selling in this marketplace, or advertising in this industry, are you looking to just have a presence, or do you want to be competitive, or even have a dominant presence?” Why this approach is so awesome: It’s is all about finding out what your advertiser’s intentions really are and how they want to be perceived in the marketplace in general. This pushes them gently into giving you the information you need (present, competitive or dominant.) 

Now you can talk about other advertisers that fall into any one of those three buckets. You can discuss what it will cost to be in each bucket. You are able to guide them on which of the buckets they want to be in. And you can focus their attention on what they actually need to spend to get there – not what they ‘want’ or ‘think’ they need to spend.

Practice everything within the steps that you need to and use it. It really does work! Remember, if ad sales was an easy job, everyone would be doing it.

P.S. In my next post, I’ll share the 4th and 5th steps to take to make a successful first sales call.



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.  He 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, as well as the Publisher of Sales Training World.


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