With March Madness on the horizon, we will pump our fists in the air with the winners and feel disappointed with the losers as they vow to exact their revenge next year. In media sales, all sellers want to be winners; it is hard to admit a loss. We cling to what we see as an opportunity long after the buzzer has sounded and the other team is in the locker room. We have even been known to still want to defend our position when the other team’s bus is halfway home!
I am not going to be so trite as to say that losing is good because you can learn from your mistakes. That is stating the obvious and doesn’t make the situation better. But there are some steps you can take to turn that loss into a future win. Sports teams shake it off and face the next game all the time. The same can happen to you in the game of media sales.
1) Face the facts. You didn’t get the order. The buy has been placed and you aren’t in it. The decision maker has made their decision and it was “no.” The decision maker is putting you off over and over because they hate to tell you “no.” You won’t see a win with this account in the future even if you pound your chest and look at the buyer aghast. You won’t see a win however long you try to keep defending when the game is over.
2) Ask for feedback and listen to it. Use words like, “What could we have done that would have convinced you go with us?” “What made the difference in your mind?” Be willing to hear criticism about your station (and maybe about you and your actions) without taking it personally or getting defensive. Listen for cues about how to develop stronger relationships with others, or how to deliver better ROI.
3) Analyze and look to your next meeting. Yeah, yeah, learn from your mistakes. But instead of focusing on that, we in media sales can learn from sports. After the game, players and managers review the tapes. They are not looking only at what they can improve; they are analyzing holes in the other team so that they can capitalize on those the next time they meet. If you listen to your client’s feedback, you will be prepared to answer those needs the next time.
4) Keep good notes on your contacts and the account. Don’t assume you will remember. Media salespeople are busy, busy, busy, and time heals all wounds. The loss won’t be as painful by the time you are ready for the next go ’round with this client, and the feedback will be long forgotten. Making notes on what you learned not only about the advertiser, but the decision maker as well will help make you stand out as a good listener.
5) Be gracious. Coaches and players line up to shake hands, winners and losers alike. A “thank you” for an order received or a signed contract is terrific, but expected. Stand out by sending a “thank you for your time” or consideration. Let the contact know you appreciate their feedback, took it to heart, and will do your best to do business with them in the future. Then, wish them well with their current campaign, because if it succeeds, there will be more advertising money on the table in the future.
Yes, winning IS everything, but in media sales, if we won everything we went after, the line for your job would be out the door and around the block. The fact is that we do lose, but a loss can be turned into a future win.