There was a lot of grumbling at my gym earlier in the year: No parking places! My regular locker area is full! The showers are full and I have to wait!
Lots of grumbling, eye rolling, and sighs about the so-called “Marchers.” They are so called because those of us who are at the gym year-round know that the place fills up with those who have made “this-is-going-to-be-the-year” New Year’s resolutions.
We also know that they will be gone by March. We will have our parking spaces, lockers, and showers back. But during that time, the “regulars” talk of having a parking areas and lockers reserved for us – those of us who pay every month, get results from our workouts, love and are loved by the staff, and who give great referrals.
“They are forgetting to dance with the ones who brought them,” grumbled one regular.
We regulars are no different than top accounts in media sales. And all too often in media sales, we get that annual order, thank them very much, and promptly turn our attention either to our newest prospect or to the on-again-off again account that needs revisions, doesn’t pay on time, and is never happy with their copy.
We have tickets to the game next week? Let’s dazzle the person who has never spent a dime with us (but MIGHT…). Do we have a killer sponsorship opportunity available that will get a lot of exposure for whoever buys it? Let’s go after everyone who has turned us down in the past so maybe, just MAYBE, they will find the love for us in the future.
Or, should we offer those perks and great exposure opportunities to the client who spends money with us, who we can count on, and who already loves us?
Southwest Airlines does a great job taking care of their customers – all of them. But they recognize who their top customers are and give them preferential seating, periodic drink coupons, and other goodies. They also upsell those customers by giving them guaranteed check-in for a fee. Top customers don’t mind paying a little more, because it is perceived value and gives them something special. Southwest’s top customers sing their praises and hate to fly any other airline.
So, how can we in media sales get our top customers to sing our praises and not grumble about feeling slighted?
1) Identify your top customers.
Sort your customers by last year’s billing from the top down. See if there is a logical cut-off point, or just determine how many customers are among the top 20% of the total number you have. You may be surprised that some you may think are top are not. They might just be vocal and needy, but not a top paying customer.
2) Know their needs, listen carefully for dissatisfaction, and address it.
Have regular appointments with them. Don’t be afraid to ask how things are going. Come up with ideas to help change their advertising approach, if needed. If something isn’t right with your station, ask them how they would like you to handle it, and then do so. Most times things will be fine, but if not, they often just want to know you care enough to listen and help them.
3) Continually build the relationship.
It is hard not to buy from people you like. Give your top clients the tickets and the extra spots. You can really get to know someone outside of business over lunch. Learn about their business category. Maybe even volunteer to work there for a few hours! And be sure to offer them the premium sales opportunities first. They may not always take them, but they will know you value them (and this opportunity). Remember, they already see value in you and your station. And it doesn’t hurt that you sold that opportunity more quickly.
4) Don’t focus on the renewal, focus on the continual upsell.
Don’t kid yourself that your customer doesn’t know that renewal time is right around the corner when you suddenly show an interest in them after they haven’t seen or heard from you for nine months. But, if you have regular appointments, are continually building the relationship, and offer them the perks and opportunities for doing business with you, the renewal will be a natural step.