Handling objections is a skill that every media salesperson must master. Amidst selling during this global pandemic, objection-handling has taken a little bit of a different twist. Having worked with almost 30,000 salespeople around the globe, I’ve found that objection-handling is a skill that most salespeople think they have mastered, but that most fail at when put on the spot. Handling objections and not coming across as argumentative or arrogant has a lot to do with being well-practiced. If I’ve said it once I’ll say it a 1,000 times … professionals practice and amateurs wing it. Who do you want to be?
At face value, most objections from advertisers are best handled with a success story and not a fact or a statistic, based on my experience. Right now, Brain Swell Media’s most recent data suggests that seven out of 10 of our advertisers are buying from an emotional perspective. We have to be very careful about using statistics and data in the sales process. Of course, using data does have its place. But I think you’ll see below that when we dissect the six most common media sales objections, there are several ways we can handle them without having to give a fact or a stat. You will see here that I’ve detailed the six most common objections that I encounter on a daily basis as I’m selling advertising media. You will also notice that these are written out much like a script. Please do not come across to your advertisers as a script-based sales executive, though. Rather, this is set up in such a way that you can practice by yourself—or better yet, with a peer—and get ready to roll.
Objections occur in three scenarios that are easy to replicate and practice around: 1.) When booking meetings. 2.) When you’re face-to-face. 3.) When you are virtually hosting a sales call. And with any of these three, preparation is the key to overcoming objections.
Advertiser says: “I‘m good.”
Media Sales Executive: “Good as in?” – (Be silent and listen.)
Advertiser says: “We have enough business.”
Media Sales Executive: “Great. Sounds like we need to move you from a new customer marketing plan to a thanking-your-current-customers plan. You do want to thank your current customers, right? Our marketing options cover more than just new customers. We help your customers engage more deeply with you, as well.”
Advertiser says: “We are cutting back on marketing until the pandemic is over.”
Media Sales Executive: “I can certainly understand your concern. When you say, ‘pandemic is over,‘ what does that mean to you?”
Advertiser says: “Well … over. Dead. Etc.”
Media Sales Executive:“My concern is that we are having a moving target date here that is very hard to predict. Advertising does not produce instantaneous results. People need to see your ad many times before they react. Other business owners like you are keeping their names out there so that when the customer is ready to engage, they think of them first. And that is the key—to keep your business top-of-mind.”
Advertiser says: “I have no budget. It’s all spent.”
Media Sales Executive: “What about Advertiser A, B, and C?” – (You name three current advertisers.) –
Advertiser says: “What about ‘em?”
Media Sales Executive: “I truly feel that your absence is their opportunity! They are all seeing results after a few months of marketing with us. How about I quickly show you some marketing ideas that are working?”
Advertiser says: “My Facebook page works well for me.”
Media Sales Executive: „I love to hear that you believe in marketing on social. We love social media, too. The issue is that nearly every business is competing for eyes on Facebook. So, what are you doing to stand out from your competitors?” – (Also, explain that social and digital are different.)
Advertiser says: “No one reads the paper/magazine any more.”
Media Sales Executive: “May I ask you a question? [OK] Whatever your answer is, please don‘t worry about hurting my feelings. [OK] Do you personally read our newspaper? [NO] It is not surprising at all for me to hear that no one reads the paper when you yourself do not read the paper. It‘s ok. The survey of one is totally normal. What I can tell you is this … if we published even one sentence of negativity about you, your feelings would be different about how many people read the paper. Your phone would ring off the hook. Traditional media is not a get-rich-quick plan. It is a tested and proven way to put your name in front of X number of readers every week so that when a customer is ready to buy you are the business they think of first.”
Advertiser says: “Word of mouth is my best marketing vehicle.”
Media Sales Executive: “The problem with WOM is that you lose control of your marketing message. You are asking untrained people to carry your marketing message to the masses. Are you confident they will say what you want them to say about your business?”
Advertiser says: “Yes, I am.”
Media Sales Executive: “What if they had a bad experience and did not tell you?”
Advertiser says: “What do you mean?”
Media Sales Executive: “In a word-of-mouth scenario, a bad experience can spiral out of control on social media.”
Objection-handling is one of the most critical skill sets that every serious media sales executive should possess. And yet, were you aware that seven in 10 professional sales executives have never taken any type of formal sales training? I guess that’s good for me being in the sales training business, but it’s a bit scary to think about so many people selling without a formal framework for sales success.
So wherever you fall on the spectrum of training, I encourage you to use these and other scenarios to create some type of flashcard system where you can practice with your peers. I’m not a big fan of role-playing, necessarily, but I do see how practice makes perfect. And serious practice will produce serious results. So I would find a practice partner—someone you trust—and practice these scenarios one-on-one until you are smooth and prepared. It’s important because the worse thing you can do is practice when you are on a sales call. Your advertisers deserve better than that!
Remember, if sales was easy, everybody would be doing it. And they’re not. So we’re either a little bit crazy … or we‘ve found careers that will feed our families for a lifetime.