Many senior managers, without experience in sales, try to increase sales by setting deadlines and adding bonuses that hurt sales and hurt business. According to Ken Krogue, writing in the Harvard Business Review, “It is a vicious cycle. And companies know it. Yet they continue the practice, month after month and year after year, perhaps unaware of how much it’s really costing them.”
The top sales professionals ranked the effectiveness of five sales strategies. The top-ranked strategies were “Getting customers to emotionally connect with you” followed by “Tailoring your sales pitch to the customer’s needs” and then “Asking questions that show your expertise.” The two lowest ranked strategies were “Showing the value of your solution” and “Driving the topics of conversation.”
As a result many media sales managers have a very difficult time with forecasting their company’s business. Will you be up or down next month? How much business should you be forecasting for 6 months from now? Management hates surprises, so the pressure is on.
The advertising sales process is particularly frustrating for inexperienced managers because the purchase-decision process at an advertiser or media-buying agency is so opaque. While one person may be identified as the “buyer” they are often not the key contact in terms of influence.
Your customers have little time for you because they are under so much pressure to be productive. Only if you add value to their day, every time you meet, will you win time with them to build the relationship that gives you a leg up in the competition.
Open the Mind w keyThat is why I loved seeing new research on now b2b buyers separate winners from losers. The research directly supports the ambro.com Strategic Sales Tactics Training for advertising sales that we teach in customized form for media companies and publically through the Masters of Media Selling seminars with MediaPost.
If you are not providing leadership to your customers you will be relegated to the commodity media file. You’ll be the company that occasionally receives business when it suits your customer-base. On the other hand, as a leadership media company you’ll drive new business, win greater market share, and expand your market.
“One of the biggest problems of publishers and advertising sales staffs today is falling behind the customer.” Leading advertisers are moving as fast as they can to keep up with the changing information habits of their customers. But most publishers are more focused on selling what they have, the way it’s been sold in the past, than thinking about how to sell new services or sell advertising in new ways. So publishers and advertising sales executives are falling behind the perceived needs of their customers, the advertisers.
High quality content, and more and more of it, is your social media strategy. People share content, and comment on content via social media. No content, no sharing. Build your content first. Readers will share on their social media of choice. When Facebook declines they’ll share it on the next platform, be it Snapchat or Instagram or one we haven’t heard of yet.
Smart advertising sales managers know that they can’t skip selling to the ad agencies and media buying services, but they must never forget where the power is; at the client. And getting client appointments is harder and more valuable than ever.
What gets the attention of clients? Certainly it’s not your circulation or your demographics. That is what they pay agencies to put in to spreadsheets. In order to be successful working at the highest level of advertising media decision making, at the client, you need to be adding value by contributing to their understanding of how customers make purchase decisions to buy their products. If you bring value to keeping up with the changing habits of buyers you will always be welcome in the executive suites of your advertising media customers.
It is the Path to Purchase that is intriguing to customers. It is not simple, rather it is nuanced. It is not static, but rather is changing with the changing media consumption patterns of consumers and business buyers.