Do Your Sales People Understand How to Sell Advertising Against Low-Priced Networks? 1

Price pressure is the bane of internet advertising sales managers.  Advertising sales teams must be trained to uncover, address and overcome the ad sales price objection.  Are you giving your sales team the advertising sales training they need to understand the competitive environment and to communicate to your prospects and clients the value of the advertising you sell them?

When advertising sales executives meet with prospective customers, the person they are meeting with has more alternative places or ways to spend their money than ever before.  Among the many alternatives to buying from you, the advertiser will have other alternatives in your medium (print? outdoor? TV? digital?) and will have many other media to consider, too.  There are three crucial requirements to be successful in this situation:

1)  Become a Consultant

Engage the prospect in a solution-selling conversation about the whole picture of media, not just your sector.  This will enable you to review all the different ways the advertiser may be using to influence their customers’ path to purchase, and it will provide you the opportunity to persuade your prospect to nudge the allocation of spending toward the opportunities you are selling.  Harvard Business Review carried a story that explained this approach very well a few years ago:

HBR sheild-logo“With buyers increasingly savvy, how can companies resist relentless commodification and distinguish themselves from rivals? An increasingly popular approach is to emphasize one’s expertise in the business, as distinct from the quality of one’s product. Such competence-based marketing is especially persuasive in business-to-business relationships that involve hard-to-assess goods or follow-on services.”

2) Probe for the Objections

Sales people must seek out the objections, starting with the price objection, to make sure their prospect understands your value proposition.  If your customer has a hidden price objection, thinking there are less expensive ways to accomplish what your medium offers, it is often because they don’t properly value the media you are selling.  So it is critical that your sales people are trained to probe for objections and to handle objections with all the skill you can help them develop. Strategic Sales Tactics Training includes objection-handling techniques in most sessions.  And here ‘s an ad sales tip on objection handling that is a place to start.

3)  Know your Competition

In the world of digital advertising there are many low-priced alternatives that sound good, but they are really not.  Sales people need to be able to point out the differences in quality between their offering and the alternatives.  Because it’s still the wild-west out there in the world of digital advertising, there are good guys and bad-guys.  Selling negatively isn’t the way to go, but it helps to be able to state the problem.  And the one problem with low-priced competition is the level of confidence the advertiser should expect in the actual delivery of their advertising.

Verification of advertising view-ability is one area of doubt.  You’re selling your advertisers ads that have value.  Are your competitors?  The IAB knows this is an issue and is struggling to determine standards to control it.  But given the incentives to deliver high volumes of low-priced impressions, some of your competitors may be using fraudulent methods to deliver ad impressions.

This Digiday story on the internet advertising fraud is a good place to start.  Hiring to train your sales force is even better.  Ongoing advertising sales training is one key to helping your sales people keep up with the fast-changing world of digital media.

Update December 2013:  A MediaPost story on fraudulent clicks;  More background on efforts to combat fraudulent traffic in this story from MediaPost on the IAB initiative.

Update January 2014:  A spate of new stories this week on click fraud; a survey by Solve Media put the losses to advertisers at $11 Billion; a release covered by Forbes by Integral Ad Science on view-ability and click-fraud status; and the final report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau on standards to fight click fraud and fraudulent traffic practices.

Update April 2014:  More articles on the fraud problem from Advertising Age:  Why Fraud is so Rampant, and How the Bot-Nets Work.

Update May 2014:  An Ad Age article on how bots imitate humans.

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.

One thought on “Do Your Sales People Understand How to Sell Advertising Against Low-Priced Networks?

  • Daniel M. Ambrose Post author

    How do you train your sales people to handle the price objection? Have you prepared data or analysis that your sale team can use when justifying your price-value relationship?

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