Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

Narrow the Close

Friday, July 25th, 2014

by Susan Novicki

I have been traveling to markets each week over the past month and have been on some great sales calls that my clients have scheduled. In each of the needs analysis meetings, we have walked away with clear objectives and homework assignments and many times with big budgets disclosed.   We have set up a follow up meeting to present the ideas and will create a proposal from that call.  But the question becomes “How do we narrow the close?”

First we have to make sure that we have truly listened to the client and not made assumptions that make sense for what we are trying to sell, whether it is an event, a mobile app, or promotion that the station has created.

I think it is always great if a manager is on an important call with a rep. And it’s great when we are in town to go on calls with our salespeople as well. Why? Because you have an additional set of ears to hear what the decision-maker is truly saying. So many times in a conversation there are small references that we may miss because we are “broadcasting when we should be listening”. With an additional set of ears, we tend to catch those subtle references. Once we recap the conversation and create ideas that are narrowed down in the next meeting, we create a proposal that is focused on the objective that was determined in our needs analysis conversation. The concept that is created and how we will make it happen through an integrated campaign as well as the net investment all must go back to the objective that we heard during the needs analysis.

It is critical that we ask for the close when we present the proposal to the decision-maker. Many times they will tell a sales rep that it looks great but “let me review and get back to you in a few weeks”. Too many times the rep walks out of the meeting proud as a peacock that the call was “awesome” yet they haven’t asked for the sale.

After reviewing the proposal, have the contract ready for the decision-maker to sign. If they can’t sign it do you ask “why”? The most important question in narrowing the close is “on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 you signing where do you see this?” If the decision-maker says a “7″ you ask “what has to be done to this proposal to get it to a 10?” The more information you have, the better chance you have of closing.

Also make that follow up appointment – don’t leave it to “I’ll get back to you in a few weeks”. The more conversation and follow up calls, the better chance of narrowing the close. But it all starts with a great homework assignment from a great needs analysis meeting. Make the decision-maker a partner with you in reaching the desired objectives.

The Power of Communication

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

by Ginny Speaks

I have been spending a ton of time on the phone lately telecoaching with sellers all across the country and across formats calling on prospective clients, leaving voice mails and capturing assignments. Regardless of what medium we are calling from, the root of what we do and say really remains the same. The media lines have blurred tremendously over the years and we all offer various forms of marketing, not only traditional media, but digital, mobile, social, experiential and database to name a few. All of us have become full service media marketing companies. The question is — do we present ourselves that way?

The biggest challenge we have as sellers and managers, with so many tools in our tool box, is learning how to communicate effectively to get the buyers attention without boxing them into a corner and then having to work our way out. How do we do this?

The key is to paint the big picture first to open up communication and speak the decision maker’s language. For example, try these one-liners to explain what you do:

  • Put together integrated sales and marketing programs across various platforms to drive sales
  • We are full service media marketing company that specializes in integrated sales & marketing campaigns
  • Our company creates and executes integrated marketing campaigns that drives foot traffic to key retail
  • My company designs and executes integrated sales and marketing campaigns that generate new customers and increases brand awareness

Once you paint the big picture, it is about communicating what you want. The goal always is to secure a conversation/appointment to conduct a needs analysis, not to pitch packages.   Try these one-liners:

  • To open up communication to learn more about your sales goals and objectives
  • To begin a dialogue to see how we can best work together
  • To understand your challenges in the market and see how we can help solve those
  • To get on your call calendar to conduct an exploratory conversation

These statements are invitations to have a discussion and they eliminate the defense mechanism of a potential buyer. They are not threatening and do not say I want to sell you something.

PLUS, now is the time to plant seeds for next year. I have found myself saying over and over and over again on voice mails that I would like to get on the clients call calendar to open up dialogue about the back half of 2014 and get in front of 2015 planning.

I encourage you to evaluate your words, your dialogue and see how you can increase appointments by making a few changes on how you present yourself and ask for what you want. Plant those seeds to get in front of the money for 2015. Q4 is just around the corner!

Finding the VBR to Make the Call

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

by Susan Novicki

Decision-makers are in the office at this time of year and this is a great time to aggressively get on the phone and make calls.  Most people tend to get in “holiday mode” but this is a time to initiate conversations – when decision-makers are not on the road.  And having a “Valid Business Reason” for making the call is the easiest way and creates the most success.

In last week’s issue of Sellers Source,I learned that “Kellogg’s Kashi brand has launched a new single-serve pizza in two flavors, Greek Tzatziki Pizza, with spinach, artichokes, tomatoes, feta, mozzarella and sauce of Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill and garlic, and Indian Tikka Masala Pizza, with mozzarella, fire-roasted eggplant, spinach, tomatoes, crushed red pepper and a spicy Tikka Masala sauce.  The crust is made with Kashi Seven Whole Grains, flax and sesame. These two new flavors complement the six varieties that are already in store.”

Now first I have to figure out how to say Tzatziki but this is a great reason to make the call – new products being introduced.    The new flavors are not yet even on the website but I always like to make sure that the product I am calling about is sold in my area and I found that the Kashi pizzas are sold in every major grocery chain so this solidifies the reason to make the call.  Once I find a decision-maker and prepare to get on the phone I want to create a script so that I make sure that I have every chance to get a call-back (not that I will say it verbatim).

It could go something like this: “Hello Lara, I understand you are one of the brand managers at Kashi.  My name is Susan Novicki with Morrison and Abraham.  We put together fully integrated sales and marketing programs for companies like yours and have had proven success with these programs, including ones with Kellogg’s.  I read that you are introducing two new flavors to your portfolio of frozen pizzas and I would like to talk to you about your initiatives for 2014 in getting these products onto the shelves and through to the consumers.  Would you be available for a call on Friday at 9 AM PST so that I can talk about our success in moving product but more importantly so I can hear about your focus so that I can create a program designed to meet your objectives?  If this time doesn’t work let me know a time that would work for you.  Thank you, Lara and I look forward to our call.”

Follow this up with an email and you are on your way to a close.

Are We Creating a Plan for Success for 2014?

Friday, October 11th, 2013

by Susan Novicki

Even though everything is doom and gloom at the national level with the federal government shutdown and the deadline for raising the debt ceiling fast approaching, business continues to move ahead.  We are all in the throes of fourth quarter and hopefully we are all additionally focused on getting

proposals out based on great need analysis meetings for big 2014 programs.

We should also be thinking about putting a plan together for 2014.  October is the month that budgets are being presented and finalized at the market level – you need to be creating your plans as to how you are going to reach the revenue goals for 2014.

To that end, this time of year is when we traditionally help our clients at the individual seller level to analyze their 2013 business and create a plan based on how much money they want to make next year.  You, as managers and sellers, need to look introspectively at your business and realistically analyze what happened this year.

  • What were the successes?
  • Are they coming back next year?
  • What didn’t close that you thought should have?  Can you work on this for next year?
  • What categories were great for you?
  • What categories do you want to focus on next year?
  • Can you go broader and deeper into your current accounts to develop more revenue?
  • What new prospects have you targeted for next year?
  • Are you in front of all of your clients for next year’s business?

As a seller you should be thinking about how much money you want to make– where is it going to come from?  We can’t rely on transactional business but we can be proactive and focus on developmental business and make a plan for that.

Everyone that we are talking to at this time is in the process of putting their plans and budgets together for next year.  We need to be talking to both clients and prospects about these plans and objectives and how we can help them exceed their goals. Conversations that I have had with everyone from Bank of America to Chevy to Unilever are looking at 2014.

The key to success is focusing on what the client is trying to accomplish next year – how can we help them accomplish their goals?   They are analyzing this year and putting a plan together for next year right now.  We need to do the same.  Take a few minutes to look back at this year – both positive and negative aspects – to help create a solid foundation for success next year.

Finding Qualified Leads

Friday, September 27th, 2013

by Ginny Speaks

Finding good solid leads is always top of mind with the managers and sellers I work with daily.  So, how do we do this?  What can we do today to begin building a solid lead list for 2014?

One of the easiest and best ways to generate a good lead list is right in front of each one of us – our traditional client list.  This list is a solid foundation for building future business.

How do we mine our current list?   First and foremost, there are three pools of money to tap into in every business:  advertising, marketing, and sales.   Start with your top three accounts that spend the most money with you and ask yourself this question.  Do I know who is in charge of each one of these areas (list them)? If you do, great — you are covering all bases.  If you do not, you just uncovered a new door to open for potential revenue.  Continue this exercise until you finish your entire list. By the time you are done, you should begin to see patterns in your selling skill set, where you are strong, where you need work and categories you do well in.

Take this information and begin your new lead list with at least three accounts you are going to develop deeper.  For example, let’s assume you are strong in auto and you do a ton of campaigns with the local Ford dealers and mainly work with the General Managers.   While doing this exercise you realize you do not work with regional marketing and or the other divisions in sales such as pre-owned or parts & service managers.   See how this works?  We just identified 3 new doors to open within auto!  As always, the better prepared you are when opening these doors, the better the conversation will go.

So always do your homework ahead of time and find out the following facts about your prospect before you dial:

  • Headquarters contact information
  • Fiscal year
  • Background information
  • Organizational structure
  • Marketing practices
  • New products

Getting a Solid Needs Analysis

Friday, September 13th, 2013

by Susan Novicki

The NAB Radio Show is approaching and I will be in Orlando next week to speak at the conference.   The topic I am to speak on is the importance of a solid need analysis.  This is an easy topic to discuss since it is something that I am passionate about.  Without a solid need analysis, there is little opportunity for a great close and maximizing on the investment you can get for an integrated program.

The first issue is determining who to talk to for a need analysis.

So many times sellers are talking to non-decision-makers.  A great need analysis will determine if the person you are speaking to is the decision-maker. If they can’t answer all of your questions, they are probably not.  Many times salespeople are talking to the media buyer – while this person is often someone with a RFP and will spend money, they are not a person that can make decisions.  If we want to create an integrated program, which is what the client is looking for, many times the media buyer cannot make a decision on it because many times there is no spot or ROP involved with some components of the program.  Remember that media buyers are tasked with putting together a buy with the perimeters all in place – the media, the reach, the amount of stations / formats / newspapers etc. that are needed.  They can’t deviate from that.  To create a sustaining program that will achieve a specific directive, we have to find out what the objective of the client is and create a concept and program that all reaches back to the objective.

Second is getting ready to make the call for the appointment.

Preparation is the key and preparing questions to ask the decision-maker is critical.  Remember that we need to talk as little as possible and listen to what the decision-maker is saying.  Many times until we start asking questions, the decision-maker does not even think that they have a need.  We need to unearth it in the needs analysis and immediately the decision- maker becomes engaged and is eagerly waiting for the next meeting to see the ideas that you have created for the objective.  Without solid preparation you will not end up with a homework assignment.Then where are you after the meeting?

Finding the right decision-maker, preparing to initiate the call and having a conversation — with the decision-maker talking 90% of the time and you talking 10% — are the ingredients for a great needs analysis.  Are you doing all of the above to be the most successful?

Get in Front of the Money

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

by Ginny Speaks             

Can you believe we are in the middle of August?  I found myself asking this question when I was booking my market trips for September.  Where did the first half of the year go?  I do hope all are hitting budgets and moving into the back half of year with good momentum.

Most companies begin planning their budgets about 6 months from their fiscal year end and the majority of companies follow a traditional calendar year.  With this said, now is the time to begin probing on all calls about next year to get in front of the money for 2014.

Companies that are on a calendar fiscal year begin planning in September and October for the following year.   Set yourself up for success now on all your prospecting and current client conversations.  This will not only build credibility with your clients, it will put solid appointments on the books.

Also, talking to decision makers now about 2014 relaxes them. When you get them on the phone this time of year, often the first thing they will say is that all their money is spent – with no dollars remaining to do anything for the remainder of the year. By talking immediately about 2014, this barrier is dropped and you can have an intelligent conversation about what you can do to engage key consumers or businesses in a fully integrated program.

Of course, sometimes dollars are left over from the year. The term “use it or lose it” definitely holds true in a corporate environment so get in there and try to scoop up the left overs too.

Timing is everything and by getting in front of the money now, you will see a huge payout not only in your rapport with clients, but in your ability to secure larger dollars and increase your closing ratio. You will also eliminate those budget objections we hear from time to time, such as “we have already allocated our monies for the year” or “this year is already done.”

Just this week, during phone coaching sessions with sellers, we set appointments to begin those 2014 discussions, one with an automotive brand and one with a bank.

The Importance of a Solid Needs Analysis

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

by Susan Novicki            

I just got off a sales call with a client of mine and an automotive prospect and I realized how critical it is that we are always reaching back to decision-makers to make sure that we truly understand the needs of the client and that the needs have not changed.  Just a few months ago, the only focus was on a specific series of models and their very targeted consumer.  Nothing in their current advertising or marketing would have told us that this had changed.  Nothing on their website would direct us to a change.  But the sales rep and I decided to set up a call to do a new need analysis working into the latter part of the year and into 2014.  The first words out of the decision-maker’s mouth were “the focus we discussed is out and now we are focusing on two new models” with a completely different target consumer.  From that point, we had an hour long conversation about the objectives with this new target and the models they will be introducing within the next few months, finishing the conversation with a homework assignment and a budget.

This reminds me that many times in doing a need analysis when we finish the conversation and set up a follow up appointment to present idea starters or concepts, it is critical to touch base before the meeting to make sure that things have not changed in between meetings.  Every so often things do shift and the focus is moved.   We will have a more productive follow up meeting if we are up-to-date on any changes that have occurred so our strategy is in line with their new objectives.  And as we work the process to closing business, we have to make sure that the objectives are solidly in place as we understand them so that our program will meet those objectives and help the prospect to realize and exceed their expectations.

Too often we make assumptions or we want to fit a prospect into an event or a program that we are doing without truly identifying the need and creating the program based on the need.  Too often we aren’t listening to the prospect and only focused on what we are trying to sell.

Now is the time that we should all be talking to decision-makers about 2014.  Everyone, from automotive to consumer packaged goods manufacturers to financial service companies to home improvement companies to wireless service providers, are starting to plan for 2014.  We need to be in front of the dollars so we are getting the six figure deals instead of waiting until we are in the quarter and getting the “crumbs” of whatever is left in the plan.  And we need to make sure that we are consistently fine-tuning the need analysis knowing that the focus can change in a month.

Preparation and consistent communication is the key to success in all of this.

Don’t Let Nerves Get in Your Way

Monday, May 13th, 2013

by Kathrine Glass

Nerves are just a part of playing competitive games. And guess what? Where we sit, we are in one of the most competitive games around – sales. It’s no wonder that sales people – from newbies to senior sellers – sometimes get nerves when placing cold calls.

You can mitigate those nerves by doing a few easy things.

Think positively. Don’t let your insecurity get the best of you. When your Negative Nelly starts talking, let the Positive Peggy speak louder! NN: “The person on the other end of the phone will think you are a loser!” PP: “You have nothing to lose.” NN: “You are interrupting their day and they have nothing to say to you but goodbye!” PP: “Today is their lucky day because I will be able to help them be heroes at their job!” NN: “You won’t know what to say.” PP: “Oh yes, I do! I am prepared!” When you think of something negative before you start your calls, give yourself a pep talk and if that doesn’t work, identify why you are nervous and take steps to eradicate the fear. Being prepared is a step in the right direction.

Know the game field. Do your research. There is not one week that goes by during a season that a sports team doesn’t spend hours upon hours researching what the other team’s plays are, who their strongest teammates are and ways that they can win. They watch past games tapes and figure out where the opportunities are. You can do the same thing by reading a few articles about your prospects, going to their company website, understanding their business model and possible opportunities and challenges. Don’t forget to check out their Facebook page and Twitter feeds. You probably spend part of your day on Facebook and Twitter anyway so spend a minute or two learning a little about what your prospects is doing in real time.

Learn Your Lines. Practice, Practice, Practice. Even amazing actors and public speakers get “stage fright” before their performances. I have an actor friend who gets sick to his stomach every time before he goes on stage. And you know what, he is an award winning actor who channels those nerves into his characters. You can use your nerves to lead you in a positive direction, too. Any of you who have been in a stage play know that practice is key to success. You have to know your lines, know your cues, and know where your mark is so you don’t fall off of the stage during the performance number. (I’m sure you’ve seen that America’s Funniest Videos!) The same is true for cold calling. If you don’t prepare and know your script, you may forget your lines. Prepare some bullets or write an actual script from the research that you have done. It’s ok to write it down and to use it. In fact, if you know what you want to say before you say it, you will sound more confident, and you will be more confident.

Don’t let nerves get in your way. They can be a good thing if you work with them and not against them.

And as a seller, you better enjoy the rush! Enjoy the rush of the cold call, enjoy the rush when they actually spend time to tell you about their business, enjoy bringing them a solution that can help their business grow, enjoy the rush of the close and relish the rush of seeing how you have made a difference in the lives of your clients by exposing their products or services to interested customers!

Are You Applying the Training Tips We Share?

Friday, March 29th, 2013

by Ginny Speaks

Lately it seems I have been speaking a lot about application. Most of us that have been in the sales seat for a while know what to do, but the question is … do we do it? To demonstrate the results netted when following our methodology, we are pleased to spotlight one of our clients in this week’s issue of Seller’s Edge.

Meet Dana Loyer, Account Executive for Sinclair Television in the Tampa Bay Florida Market. Dana has been in media for just six months and is getting results because she is applying the training tips introduced to her through M&A.

GS: Tell me a bit about your background, how long have you been selling?

DL: I have been selling TV now for 6 months and, so far so good. This is my first media sales job. I worked previously in retail sales and as a server for over 5 years.
GS: Can you share a tip learned or a bit of information gleamed from M&A trainings that you used to close a deal or get a call back or how it affects the way you work?

DL: The scripts you share are very helpful and have helped me get a call back. For example, I used the tips you suggested in the webinar on landscaping and found the decision maker for a furniture company that used to be on the air and has not in a while, so they were on my prospect list. Once I located the right person, I used the voice mail script to leave a message and got a call back, a meeting and currently contract pending! The interesting thing with this prospect, I was the first one to call them in well over a year.GS: Share with me the best advice you ever received.

DL: Ask for exactly what you want.

GS: Do you have a selling tip you would like to share?

DL: Make it easy for the buyer to say yes by always being prepared and organized with details about the package/program that is clear and concise with a “sign the dotted line” place for authorization.GS: What do you do to keep motivated daily?

DL: Sometimes it is hard, yet I am an extremely positive person. I practice not worrying about the things I cannot control and control the things I can. Such as, I cannot control the no’s, but I can control the amount of people I call on.

Based on this interview and Dana’s attitude, I look for great things to happen for Dana this year!

Do you want to share your story or know of a great seller making things happen in the field? Shoot me an e-mail to nominate a seller for a future “Seller Spotlight” feature.