Six ways to become a better salesperson

By John Foust

There’s a lot of truth in the old saying, “The biggest room in the house is room for improvement.” Let’s take a look at six things to be learned from the top salespeople in the advertising industry:

1. Learn about selling. These days, there is no excuse for an uninformed salesperson. Visit your local bookstore or library, and you will find plenty of how-to information about selling. Go online, and in a matter of seconds you can have access to a mountain of helpful ideas. (While writing this paragraph, I did a quick Internet search of “sales tips” and found 229 million results.)

2. Know your product. There is more to product knowledge than knowing your paper’s deadlines, the difference between spot color and process color, and how many column inches are in a 2 column by 6 inch ad.

Consider your rate card. If you are putting together a proposal for a monthly ad budget of $1,000, what are three possible options? Which option do you recommend? Why?

3. Make time management a priority. Time is precious commodity. That’s why time management is one of the biggest challenges in this profession.

Debra is an award-winning salesperson. I keep a daily log of my activities,” she told me. “That helps me analyze what is productive and what is not. The ad manager at my paper wants us to maximize the amount of time we spend developing new business.”

4. Know how to create effective advertising. Once you make a sale, you become a marketing partner. Even if your paper has a first-rate creative department, you are the main point of contact with that advertiser.

Who is the target audience? What are the relevant features and benefits? What type of headline is most appropriate—benefit, news or curiosity? Should the advertising have photographs or illustrations? Testimonial quotes or third person copy?

5. Know your competition. One of the basic principles of debate is to know as much about your opposition’s point of view as you know about your own. That goes for media sales, too. When a prospective advertiser tells you that one of your competitors is being considered, you can help your case by providing a point-by-point comparison.

How does your paper deliver more potential customers for less cost than radio, TV, or other publications? What does your website offer that other websites don’t?

6. Present a professional image. A banking executive once told me about a salesperson who showed up for a meeting wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes.

“He said he was dressed like that because Fridays were casual days in his paper’s office,” he said. “I don’t have anything against blue jeans. But it’s not smart to wear jeans if you are trying to sell something to people who are wearing business suits.”

This does not mean that you have to run out and buy new clothes. Simply use common sense in selecting what to wear each day. A sales presentation always trumps casual Friday. © John Foust 2011. All rights reserved.

E-mail John Foust for information about his training videos for ad departments: jfoust@mindspring.com.

 

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