turn up the heat in media sales

It’s time to turn up the heat on your media sales routine!
Tinted photograph of bonfire, c.1920, Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center.

Yes, it is hot. We are in the dog days of summer, which by the way, has nothing to do with lethargic domestic pets, but instead reflects the placement of the stars combined with the hottest days of the year.

We know it is hot because we have countless meteorologists who tell us so, and because we see countless pictures of thermometers with readings in triple digits posted on Facebook. So when I advise you in media sales to start turning up the heat, it probably doesn’t sound very appealing.

But it is time for you to turn up the heat in your media sales life. You need to turn up the heat on yourself, and on any cool prospects.

First, ask yourself a hard question – are you asking your prospects probing questions in order to get information that will help you come up with a solid marketing plan for them, or are you letting them off easy with answers like: We need more customers on weekdays; We are better than our competitors because we have been in business since 1954; We have better customer service; Our target customer is anyone with money.

Break that down. All clients want more customers who spend money, and they all think they are second to none in the customer service department. But you really don’t have enough information to get your client the kind of results they need to give them a good return on their advertising investment, and that means a renewal will be very difficult.

After you have answered that hard question about what kind of information you are getting from your clients, it is time to start asking your clients hard questions. You have to turn up the heat on your clients and ask more in-depth, and sometimes downright uncomfortable, questions. Why? Because:

  • Your competitors are not asking these questions. They are leading with packages that may or may not be right for the client. They are relying on a history of renewals, with the only question being, “Want to run the same spot?” They are not asking how a client’s business has changed or trying to find a real problem area that can be solved with media advertising.
  • It positions you as a marketer and not just a sales person. You will be asking marketing questions such as “What factors do your customers want and expect from you when they buy your product?” and won’t be satisfied with an answer of “low prices and great service.” You will be more able to look at all aspects of their advertising to get them the maximum return.
  • It positions you as a partner. Partners know budgets and revenues. Partners know where there are problem areas. Partners watch progress and come up with different ideas to solve business problems. Partners take calls from other partners who have each other’s best interests at heart.
  • You won’t be guessing. If you try to come up with an advertising plan without having all the information about problem areas, you will be in the dark. You will be relying on surface information. Imagine you, in media sales, trying to sell enough to keep your job when you don’t have a number to hit as a goal. Is your boss happy this month? Is corporate happy with your performance? You are shooting in the dark if you don’t have a clear goal that you and your client have agreed will solve a problem area for them.
  • They will be invested in you. Spending time up front asking good hard questions about their business gets them to invest time as well as information. They are then less likely to blow you off and more likely to give you more information and work with you, since you already have proven that you are more interested in their marketing plan than in just selling them some spots.

Now you know why you should turn up the heat on your media sales clients. Next week I will give some advice on how to ask those hard questions.
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