Why Can’t Ad-Sales Execs Close Big Deals?

Media buyers say “call on me,” and “I’m the decision-maker.” But their bosses, senior executives or business owners, are the real decision-makers. Media buyers don’t decide what to buy; they decide what to recommend to their bosses. And they recommend what they think their bosses or clients will like.

In advertising-media sales it is critical to get appointments with senior management and to be effective in those meetings and in building those relationships.

How can ad-sales managers build genuine rapport, and keep an open door, with senior executives in the media buying process? Why do sales people have such a hard time with bringing value to sales relationships?  Harvard Business Review gives us 7 reasons.

Reasons one and two in the HBR story are connected: Sales people lose sales when they are not trusted and respected and when they can’t communicate effectively with senior executives who have the final say. That is why top ad-sales people bring value to the ad-sales call. Good presentations start with observations about the prospect’s situation and needs, not about the media being sold. The relationship is built when a media-seller brings new information or new perspective about the prospect’s market, or about how the prospect’s customers make purchase decisions.

Reason four hits the nail on the head. Too many ad-sales people selfishly focus on what is good about their own media, or why it’s better than a competitor, when they should start off the conversation focused on what they know about the prospects needs, or the market situation. No sales person is expected to know everything.  But when they communicate a piece of knowledge about the CEOs company or their competition that is interesting or surprising, suddenly the top executive will be listening more closely. C-level executives will be riveted when you can deliver data on the path-2-purchase for their customers.”

Item five in the story relates to my pet peeve about (other) sales training.  “Always be closing” is bunk.  Being pushy doesn’t work for customers that are already successful.  They can do just fine without your service.  The proper sales closing approach is to get them to ask for a proposal. That starts with helping them focus on what the bottle-necks are in their own sales flow. And finally you can ask them if they would like a proposal to accelerate that a sales flow, or to attract more customers.

Ambro.com has been teaching the 5 Secrets of the Masters of Media Selling for years now…we teach you and your team how to get more senior level appointments, and how to be more effective in those appointments. Contact me for a custom seminar for your company.

About Daniel M. Ambrose

Ambrose, launched ambro.com, 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 About.com and iVillage in 1995, ambro.com has worked with hundreds of clients to help accelerate advertising revenue growth.