Sell a “Path to Purchase” to Grease Your Own Path to Sale 1

The most sophisticated advertising sales directors fertilize their advertising sales strategies with information that is of great interest to their customers.  While small advertisers may simply want to see an easy-to-use, side-by-side comparison of their alternatives, major account advertisers want more.  Getting an appointment with a senior executive at major accounts is difficult, but it is a valuable tool in how to sell advertising.  Senior executives at big advertisers and agencies don’t want to see a presentation on why you are better than your competition.  They have buyers and planners to do that.  But you must find a way to influence them, because they influence the buyers and planners.

One thing never fails to interest senior executives, and it will command the attention of advertising purchase decision-makers down the line: New information or perspective on their customers or their marketplace.  The most riveting information is data on how their customers make purchase decisions, lately known as the “Path to Purchase.”

Purchase FunnelWhen I was selling for American Baby, I could not get an appointment with the most important purse-string holders — the Procter & Gamble – Pampers product managers — to tell them about my magazine, not even about diapering articles, or the new cable show we were launching, or the quality of our circulation.  But I could get an appointment to show them new research on the young mother market — read the Pampers market — and how those young mothers were changing their ways of deciding what products to buy.  Did young moms get more advice from their mothers, or from their doctors or from their friends?  How was that changing?  Senior executives across the baby industry were interested in that. Back in the day, we called that how to fill the “purchase funnel.”

All smart media companies understand the market to which they broadcast or publish.  Sophisticated understanding of the market is a competitive advantage even before they get to the advertising sales process.  Adding a layer of sophistication, understanding of the process that consumers use in making purchase decisions, and supplying research on the advertising purchase decision to the sales team will help their advertising sales people get more of the right appointments at the right time, and will help ad sales people make the sales they aim for.

In today’s advertising sales environment advertisers are thinking of the purchase decision process in slightly different terms than the funnel.  Because of the ability to target individuals using behavioral targeting and real-time-buying, advertisers are very focused on the path to purchase that is less about filling a big funnel at the top and more about identifying and influencing a shopper as they follow the path.

Purchase Decision Process flow - ConsumerYour media influence the path to purchase in more than one way or at more than one time.  Your magazine provides one point of influence and your web site influences customers at a different point on their path to purchase. Your events provide yet another influence on the path to purchase.  By formulating an appropriate explanation of how consumers gather information and form opinions, and how your media properties influence the demand generation, you will be delivering true value to your client relationships.  Putting this into your advertising sale presentations will enable you to get the higher-level sales appointments that will build your  reputation and sales.

To learn more about how to use the path to purchase in selling advertising, take my Strategic Sales Tactics Training course, for selling a single media, or my Integrated Sales Tactics Training course for selling multiple media, like a web site and print property and events sponsorship together.  Each medium plays a different, but important, role in the purchase cycle.

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About Daniel M. Ambrose

Ambrose, launched, corp. in 1994 to provide sophisticated strategy consulting and advertising sales training to advertising-driven media clients in the U.S. and abroad. Starting with the founding of and iVillage in 1995, has worked with hundreds of clients to help accelerate advertising revenue growth.

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