Archive for the ‘Prospecting’ Category

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!

Using Research to Open the Door

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

by Susan Novicki

In any sales opportunity, the first priority is to determine a reason to initiate a call and engage the decision-maker. To do this, a good salesperson creates a valid business reason, or VBR, based on the research that has been gathered. This is the best way to both create some credibility and to get the attention of the decision-maker.

But most of the time we find that the “VBR” is not always the need of the decision-maker.

The easiest VBR is when a salesperson learns that there is a new product that is coming to market. Just last week I read in Morrison and Abraham’s Seller’s Source that Lexus, even though they have been trailing their German luxury competitors for three years, outsold Mercedes in May for the second time in five months and pulled closer to BMW so far this year. This fall they are scheduled to introduce the NX, the Lexus brand’s first compact crossover, and the RC sports coupe.

It is important to do a little research on the company so that, if we get someone on the phone, we can talk intelligently and get a homework assignment.

Knowing that often there are Tier 2 dollars to engage consumers in new vehicles, I called the District Manager for Lexus in the market that I was in last week. We got him on the phone and had a great conversation with him. But our VBR was not his need.

He told us that yes they were introducing the two new vehicles but his focus is on his lineup of sedans. In the luxury market, his SUVs do extremely well. The NX, a compact CUV, will more than likely blow out of the lots and the demand will far out way the supply.

Instead his focus is on moving the sedans through at the dealer level.   Still, if we had not done our research, we could not have had an intelligent conversation.

Reading the Morrison and Abraham profile we knew all of the sedans in their portfolio. We also knew what they are doing marketing and sponsorship wise and that Team One is their agency that of course we will be working with in tandem with the District Sales Manager.

We finished the conversation with a homework assignment and the opportunity to continue the conversation with the decision-maker – and it is not based on the VBR that we created to initiate the call.

Advance to the Next Level

Friday, June 20th, 2014

by Ginny Speaks

Ask yourself these questions …

How much time do I dedicate each week to calling prospects?

How many times do I call a prospect?

Is my voice message compelling to get a prospect to call me back?

If I were to hear my message, would I call myself back?

On average, it takes 5 phone calls and messages before a prospect will call back.

I spend quite a bit of my time on the phone with sellers coaching and making calls.  It is one of my favorite things to do as it is one of our most powerful tools to teach.We learn by observation, repetition and imitation.By fine-tuning our phone skills, we can improve our closing ratio.

In today’s working environment the power of phone skills is a key component to success. And this is where telecoaching can advance you to the next level in revenue generation.

To get the most out of telecoaching, one must plan accordingly.Once you establish your call list, do your research.The more you know about a prospect, the better the call with go. Knowledge breeds confidence and research sets you apart from your competition.  To aid in your research, request a company profile from Morrison and Abraham and read it thoroughly.  Pay attention to what the company is doing from a marketing perspective and highlight certain areas of interest that can be crafted into compelling questions.  Look for synergies with the brand/companies you are working and what your station has to offer.Take a look at the landscape of the company and locate the regional sales managers and regional marketing managers to call during your session.

The goal with telecoaching is to get the key decision maker on the phone and have an exploratory conversation to flush out a homework assignment. Remember the key to a great phone conversatio is asking compelling questions, not pitching packages.  Be prepared with a list of compelling questions to ask.

Keep in mind, we are calling non-traditional decision makers so it is very important to introduce yourself as a marketing company, not a media company.These decision makers have monies that are earmarked for local and regional promotions, not media.

Understanding the role of the decision maker, speaking their language and being prepared with key questions makes all the difference in world.  So take advantage of this service and do your homework before you book your telecoaching session.  Open your seller’s binders and learn the scripts and use them.

Just like anything in life … the more you do something the better you get!

Smart Activity for New Business

Friday, May 30th, 2014

by Susan Novicki

I know that we talk about it all the time but sales success is all about activity.And developing new business is all about smart activity.We need to make sure we are working prospects that are going to develop into solid leads and eventually to closed business.But even when we landscape and do a need analysis with the CEO, it can still end up dead.This happened just this week with a fairly new start-up in the electronic cigarette category.  We got the buying signals, we were able to engage their target consumer in a way that legally they could interact, and worked within the budget range that we were given and still it did not close.  This prospect was probably too small of a lead to create a substantial close.  And because this happens all the time, we need to make sure that we are always working enough leads so that we are presenting proposals for new business each week.Knowing that, at best, one out of five will close, we need to keep solid pending streaming into the pipeline and that starts with smart activity at the prospecting stage.

We don’t have to look far to find new business – and many times we overlook the obvious.One of our clients has an account that is national in scope but regional in focus.They get a substantial amount of spot business from their internal agency.Thinking that everything is great because the rep has increased the spot business over last year, there was no thought that this account could actually also develop new business.But the rep decided to take her business development manager with her on a call to the account.

The conversation developed into a full-blown need analysis it was determined that there are extra dollars available for events and activation points on events or on-site sponsorships that the company has committed to for this year. The bottom line is that they are not hitting their established goals and are looking for opportunities to accelerate their sales and attempt to meet those goals.In the meeting they discussed a number of non-spot opportunities to engage consumers and interact with the brand and the decision-maker was excited.The buying signs are there to close on a number of activation and sponsorship opportunities from now until the end of the year.

Sometimes new business is right under our noses – we just have to consistently be aware of trends with companies and categories of business and jump aggressively on new opportunities – both with existing accounts and brand new accounts.

We must be prepared for the meetings so that we have a great need analysis and walk away with a homework assignment.And we must work at least ten leads for new business at any given time to effectively hit the established goals.

Idea Starters for your VBR

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

by Susan Novicki

I was brainstorming recently with one of my clients.  They had done a need analysis with a healthcare prospect that had ambitious goals but they only had $25,000 to spend.  Timing was pretty open but they would not be ready to start anything for at least a few months.   Always thinking 3 months out, I immediately thought of June being Men’s Health Month.

We have done many programs in the past around Men’s Health Month and this would be a great way to create a smaller program around a specific event – and not one that we have to build.  Many times we can create a concept that ties into something happening at that time period.  Men’s Health Month is an opportunity for companies to highlight issues that affect men and this is a great springboard for multiple advertisers.

I googled and found many other events occurring in that month that could also be a springboard for business.  Also organizations like the RAB and TVB have a list by month for potential promotions.

Let’s look at June for example:

June is both Dairy Month and Dairy Alternatives Month.  Did you know that June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month or National Soul Food Month or the Great Outdoors Month or LBGT Pride Month?  June is also National Safety Month and Cataract Awareness Month.  It is International Childhood Cancer Awareness and International Men’s Month.

The list goes on and on into the obscure but any of these could be “ticklers” for you to brainstorm new leads and new ideas to present to a potential client.  This could also be the “Valid Business Reason” to initiate a call.  Many times this can be an opening for a conversation and we will walk away with a completely different homework assignment.  But it was our catalyst to engage the decision-maker in a need analysis conversation.

And every month has a similar list -this is nothing new or earth shattering but sometimes we forget to go back to the basics.  Many times the things that we did years ago can be re-tweaked and made new.  We are still doing diabetes programs, especially in November around National Diabetes Awareness Month – but did you also know that November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month?  Just a thought as you prospect and “create” great ideas.

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.

The Trends Moving into 2014

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

by Susan Novicki

When talking to decision-makers in various industries, it is important to understand the economic drivers that are inherent in that specific category of business.  Many times, how the category is trending is indicative to how people are going to spend.

While the overall business climate is far from robust, there are areas that are very healthy and growing at a significant rate.  For categories that are not strong, businesses in the category need to set themselves apart from their competition and gain as much market share as possible with their target consumers.  Understanding all of the trends both within a demographic as well as with a category of business is a key to a seller’s success.

As I have discussed so many times, based on meetings with key decision-makers at Fortune 100 companies, customer engagement continues to be the dominant trigger for many companies.  For this reason social, mobile and digital videos are surging.  Demographics are also important in understanding who is important for companies to reach and how we can help engage these people for our clients – from the largest ethnic minority group in the US, the Hispanic Millennial, to the size and spending power of the Baby Boomers, to the increasing economic influence of women.

2014 should be the year that automotive sales surge ahead past the current record sales number set in 2006.  Yet the automotive aftermarket industry is sluggish.  The percentage of smartphone and tablet users will continue to grow yet the overall consumer electronics market is somewhat stagnant.  Retail is strong in certain areas yet weak in others.  Where people are buying consumer packaged goods and health and beauty products are causing a shift in how many retailers are approaching marketing.   We need to be on top of these trends to talk intelligently to a decision-maker and create a program designed to engage consumers and drive them to purchase.

There is so much opportunity for all of us moving into 2014.  It is up to us to be on top of the trends and understand the economic drivers of any industry.  We also have to remember that every company is in constant competition to garner market share and increase profitable revenue.  What are you doing to be the “go to” media seller for your current clients and new prospects?

If you are interested in a Trends 2014 webinar, please contact us to schedule a session with your group.

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.