by Ginny Speaks
I’ll never forget the time I was working the Dallas market on our way to meet with the Field Marketing Manager of one of the large fast food chains when the rep looked at me somewhat frazzled and said, “Hey, what we are going to pitch him?” My response was, “Nothing, we are going to ask him a ton of questions and find out what their initiatives are and then build a plan.” The rep replied with a hesitant voice, “Okay, I will follow your lead.”
We arrive at the meeting, sit down, and the client says “What do you have for me?” “Well,” I replied, “we did not prepare anything for you today as we wanted to take this time to learn about your business and find out what your initiatives are for the upcoming 6 months and then use this information to bring you a fully integrated program.” You should have seen his face! He was thrilled to answer our questions and even took out a customer analysis folder and copied it for us. When we left, we had all the information we needed to bring him a package that perfectly aligned with his objectives.
This is a classic example of how our industry has fallen into the rhythm of pitching packages instead of probing and asking questions. Again, the best way to hit a target is to understand where the bull’s eye is located. Conducting a thorough needs analysis helps you locate that bull’s eye; having done that, you know without a doubt that, when you present a package, it fits within the guidelines of the client’s objectives.
When we go down this path in sales, we shift the power to close deals in our favor. Selling is about asking questions, probing to find answers, learning about the client, building rapport, discovering hot buttons and, most of all, LISTENING so that you provide a service to your client that affects their bottom line. When we do this, we set ourselves apart from the pack and our clients begin to view us in a new light – one that serves others and brings results as opposed to just another media rep pushing paper.