Archive for December, 2011

Be Sure You Aren’t Ending a Sales Call Before It Begins

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

by Sue NovickiSue Novicki

Every week, I am on sales calls with our clients, sometimes on the phone, sometimes in person.

When working with a seller on a prospect and getting ready to initiate the call or a meeting, we focus on preparation. This includes understanding the pertinent information about the category of business as well as with the actual company.

One of the most important aspects of the call is to introduce ourselves and to gain credibility immediately so we can initiate a conversation with the decision-maker to unearth his or her needs.

Too many times the seller wants to immediately get into the selling mode before understanding what the client needs to accomplish – if, in fact, he or she is spending money.

One of the biggest “faux pas” in a call, if we are calling from a radio or TV group, is introducing oneself from the station’s call letters. (Of course if you are calling the owner of a small retailer in the area, it makes sense to introduce yourself in that manner, but our focus here is calling on larger companies.) If we introduce ourselves from the call letters, many times we are immediately told to contact their agency before having a chance to open up a conversation.  Instead, introduce yourself from your parent group.

Ideally, we are initiating this call with a Regional Sales Manager or someone from Brand or Marketing and we need them to understand that we “put together fully integrated sales driven, or traffic driving, programs, and have worked with companies such as …” This will open up the conversation and garner our credibility immediately.

However, if we start off the conversation with the call letters, we end the call before we can start it. And some times we are calling someone who does not know the call letters, so we end up confusing the decision-maker instead of opening the door we need to open. We will, of course, we talk about the power of the stations, websites, print etc. as we progress with the conversation.

Last, but certainly not least, we need to make sure we aren’t immediately selling or selling too soon. Too often, sellers immediately launch into the pitch, without understanding whether or not it makes sense for the decision-maker, or if it needs to be customized. We might find out during the need analysis that they are focused on a completely different time period, or that they want to reach a different target customer than we initially assumed at the beginning of the conversation.

Selling something immediately reduces the chance of closing the business. Instead, have ideas ready to discuss based on the research that you have gathered about the company. These ideas could include a program or event that your group has to sell, but treat it just that way – ” I have some ideas in mind based on what I have read about your company, but first I would like to ask you a few questions to better understand what you are trying to accomplish moving into 2012″.

It is amazing how productive a call can be when we are unearthing needs instead of pitching in the initial call.

How to Keep Your Business Developing Through The Holidays

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Julie CaldwellJulie caldwell

So we’ve officially hit the “slump” season for business development. No one does business from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and now there’s nothing to do but surf the internet for holiday bargains, right?   Bring on the station parties, long client lunches, and hit happy hour a little earlier than usual, of course!

But wait…you’re only at 50% of your goal for Q1 2012 and those January blitz packages aren’t helping you meet your NTR/Developmental goals! Bah Humbug.

Okay so I really do understand the doldrums of the holiday season when it comes to closing deals. But I believe this time can be spent being very productive by committing to some simple practices.

  1. Make a TON of phone calls. People with the titles we want to reach like Regional Sales and Marketing Director actually spend lots of time right now in their home offices. Holiday time is the least likely time that these folks travel so you are very likely to get them on the phone.
  2. Review your Annual Plan for 2012. By this time I assume you have done a basic annual plan for 2012. If you have not, then reach out to your field consultant for some help. M&A has great forms and spreadsheets that can help you review 2011 and look forward into next year. Make your own calendar and flag your actual “selling” window for key projects. This sales window should be at least six months prior to every event that you are expected to sell. Make your hit list of who to call in January for your 4th of July event. Make your hit list now for the projects you are responsible for selling next year and put your list of prospects in your calendar to call at least six months in advance.
  3. Look at your Top 10 billing accounts for 2011 and ask yourself how you might go deeper. Far too often we are stuck at the buyer level with clients that account for the major part of our income. Commit to developing relationships with at least two more people at higher levels than you currently know. And include your managers. They should know these people too.
  4. Review expiring co-op brands. Most brands have big sales months in Q4 which means they accrue co-op that needs to be spent in Q1 or Q2. Check out our website and read Seller’s Source every week to make sure you are on top of it.
  5. Make the most of your face to face holiday visits to clients. Most of us drop off a card or gift to our top clients at some point during the holidays. Yes, it’s a great time to say “thanks for your business,” but it’s also a great time to ask for a homework assignment for 2012. Since it’s the season of giving, ask your clients if there was just ONE thing you could help them with in 2012, what would it be? You never know what you might hear!

So keep your business “developing” through the holidays. It will make for a much more prosperous 2012 and you can hit January running. Don’t wait. The time to prepare is now! Happy Holidays and Happy Selling!