Start On Your Client’s 20-Yard Line Instead Of Your Own

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(By Paul Weyland) I love football. I also love sales. Today I’d like to mash up the two in a discussion called “Field Advantage: How to Start at the Direct Client’s 20-Yard Line Instead of Ours.” The idea is to use what we know to avoid always having to start from our own 20-yard line, fighting and fighting in meeting after client meeting, by instead using a couple of excellent long plays so we’re playing from the client’s 20 instead. At that point most of the heavy lifting is done, and we have a much better chance to score.

Here’s what I mean. Before the game even begins, do your homework. Know as much as you can about your client’s business situation. Know his strengths and also what his problems are, so you can make plays that let him know that your plan is quite possibly much better than his. Also, know about your sales competitors. Understand that they are there as well. Know their strengths and their weaknesses. In other words, understand your playing field. You don’t want surprises. Come in ready to win.

Outthink your client and your competitors. Come up with a really, really good long-term campaign.

Start with a huge play that immediately gets your client’s full and undivided attention. In other words, use a headline that will ring the client’s bell and get her curious about your idea. You’ll stand out from your competitors. Make that headline really good and win an appointment with the client.

Have a Game Plan, and Write it Down

Then stick to that plan. Remember, the agenda controls the meeting. Your proposal makes you look like you’ve done original work for the client — because you have. Keep it short and to the point. Use the proposal as your guide to get through the meeting. It serves as your notes, so you don’t forget to say something important. It also keeps the meeting focused. And most important, you use the proposal to draw out client objections.

Don’t Get Sacked

Be prepared to handle objections. Make sure you know what to say in the event you get blindsided. Remember that the objective is the objection. In fact, objections are our friends. Because if the client has secret objections to your station, to you, or to your idea and they go unanswered, you’ll never win the business. Know how to handle objections.

Avoid Early Tackles

Know how to defend your price by understanding how to calculate return on advertising results. Use the client’s average sale and gross margin of profit to defend your budget and to avoid mismanaged expectations about results early in the conversation. If you don’t know how to do that, contact me and I’ll send you information on how to calculate ROI.

Don’t Fumble the Ball

Don’t lose control by asking the client dumb questions like, “What’s your budget for this?” or, “What do you want to say in your commercial?” We know now that the local direct client is not qualified to write his or her own creative. We need control over the client’s creative. We also need control over the client’s budget. We should be coaching them on how much they should be spending, not the other way around.

Don’t Allow an Interception

Always, always ask for long-term business. It’s good for the client, and it’s good for you. What a shame to do all that work and then see the account taken away by a media competitor or a crappy little advertising agency because you failed to protect your work with a long-term contract.

Don’t Be Satisfied With Field Goals

Don’t be afraid to ask for real money in exchange for your original ideas. Always ask for real money. Take what you’d normally ask for a month and start asking for that much per week. Come on, what’s the worst thing that could happen? I’ve worked with local clients in all 50 states and many foreign countries as well. And in all these years I’ve only known of two media salespeople who were actually murdered for asking for too much money. So see? Your odds are good.

Paul Weyland is the go-to person for expertise in increasing long-term local direct broadcast business. You can contact Paul at (512) 236-1222

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