Contemporary advertising sales principles

November 29, 2012

By Bob Berting

“If you don’t know your true value, how will you be able to translate it to your customers?”

Don’t overlook this question in your sales meetings. Your salespeople are telling your prospects and customers that you are the best newspaper in town or if you’re the only newspaper, you’re the best media choice in town. They go on to say you have the best customer service in town. But what is your core value? What is the value you bring to the marketplace that no one else can bring? What impact does that value have on the prospect, not intellectually, but emotionally? What value do you bring that will compel your prospect to ask you to fix his or her problems?

Psychology of
contemporary selling
The act of selling in the traditional sense of the word weakens your place in the buyer-seller negotiation. Cut down on selling emphasis and begin using psychology and philosophy to translate your value. When you stop selling, your prospect will feel prone to open up and give you the reasons why he or she needs you to fix his or her problems. Isn’t that what we want anyway? Salespeople who sell hard relentlessly, sometimes don’t understand human nature—and it costs them. Ask questions about the customer’s problems and existing conditions. “What conditions exist in your company that caused you to be interested in our publication?’

Never underestimate the propensity to purchase
A prospective advertiser will balk at spending $1,500, then turn around and spend $2,500 with a competitor. Why? Because the belief was there. The energy was there. The money is always there. Money is conceptual. Many times, the danger is that salespeople will make decisions for the prospect before he or she does. Don’t make the decision for the prospect before he or she does. Don’t make the decision for the prospect about anything, especially money. Also, sometimes the more one pays for something, the more value one attaches to it—providing the value is actually there. The world is full of buyers who have bought half a solution only because of the salesperson’s fear to talk in larger terms that would have solved the entire problem of the prospect or customer.

Never let your fears
affect your selling
Often, we won’t ask the question because we’re afraid of the answer. The prospect is telling you about a severe problem he has. You need to ask: “Why haven’t you learned to solve this before?” By asking, you will be finding out an important part of his values—his own fear. From that, you can determine the best corrective action to take.

Don’t overwhelm your prospect
You have tremendous knowledge about your publication—type styles, printing press capability, demographic statistics, website benefits, etc. You feel good about what you know and you want to start spouting all this information to the prospect. Many times, the reaction to all this rhetoric is actually wearing the customer out. Never wear out the one with the check.

The old fashioned way
of selling can be changed
I’m surprised at advertising salespeople who still sell the old fashioned and out of date way. The scenario is that the ad rep will have to sell the customer an ad every time he sees the customer. This includes pressuring him or her into a special promotion, showing a spec layout, etc. The idea is to be always armed with something to show the prospect and giving him or her a reason to buy that day.
This is why advertising salespeople get into a rut, because they realize they are just becoming order takers. The most effective way is to sell the customer on a long-range program or at least a long campaign, where the customer signs a contract or commits to a long-range program. The key word is commit. This makes it easier for the salespeople to work with their customers, those who are committed and believe the publication is the absolute key player in their media mix.
He or she now won’t feel pressure to give the salesperson an ad or an idea every time the salesperson sees him or her, because he or she has accepted all the reasons to build a successful, long-range advertising program. This means the planned themes, headlines, art, and copy can be shown in several ads that can be projected over several weeks at a time, which actually cuts down on the time to meet each month.
In conclusion, you know everything there is to know about newspaper advertising, but many times you don’t know the customer’s compelling problems that need to be solved—and you need to know those problems. © Bob Berting 2012

Bob Berting is a professional speaker, newspaper seminar leader, and publisher marketing consultant who has conducted more than 1,500 seminars for the newspaper industry. Bob has a new webinar program “Getting New Business and Keeping It.” for print media associations. The four consecutive week course covers four, one-hour topics: three-call selling system—understanding media competition—creating eye-catching ads—working with hard to please customers. Every association member purchasing the course receives a free Bob Berting e-book for the newspaper industry “Dynamic Advertising Sales and Image Power.” State, Regional, or National Association leadership can contact Bob at 800-536-5408 or to see when his course will be conducted. Berting Communications is located at 6330 Woburn Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46250.

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