How To Get That First Appointment — Part 1


(By Michael Botta) One of the most difficult undertakings for most every media salesperson is the dreaded process of securing that first appointment with the decision-maker of a business. Many salespeople want to know: What do I say? Who should I ask for? How do I get through to someone when so few give me the time to even state my case? This has been a challenge for every salesperson whose job it is to create demand for their product or service. There is no best way to do this; there is no “one thing” to say that will always work, no magic bullet. Nevertheless, there are techniques and disciplines that you can practice and develop to achieve a higher success rate in getting through to decision-makers. The key to all of this is persistence, or as Napoleon Hill put it in his book Think and Grow Rich, “A Definiteness of Purpose.”

Whether prospecting takes the form of phone calls, or an AE walks into a local business, knowing what to say to a decision-maker in the first few moments of an initial sales call can be the difference between a long and profitable relationship, or another “dud” that leaves you frustrated and wondering why you can’t seem to break through.

First things, first

Always remember to first qualify any prospect to ensure that they have a media budget that’s adequate to afford the medium you’re selling. You never want to target a business that can barely afford to invest in your medium; stay away from those guys. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but I’ve found that many AEs fail to take this first fundamental step in qualifying a prospect. Countless salespeople call on businesses without having any clue as to whether their target prospects have the financial capacity to participate in any solution a sales rep may ultimately provide. One simple, obvious, and easy way that will tell you if a target prospect has a budget is to listen to the advertisements on several radio stations, watch cable TV, take note of how many retargeting ad’s follow you around the Web, pay attention to billboards, and look at the junk mail that comes to your home. In other words, pay attention to all the media that you’re exposed to daily. If you continue to see/hear a local business using these mediums, you can reasonably conclude that those businesses have a media budget.

The reverse is also true, if you’re prospecting for leads and don’t notice any ad’s from the business you’re researching, chances are that the business you’re considering doesn’t have a media budget. One footnote here, your target prospect may have a budget, or may even create one if your ideas are sound, but check with your manager first to ensure that pursuing a business who isn’t promotionally active is a good and productive use of your time.

End of Part 1. Look for Part 2 tomorrow!

Michael Botta has been a broadcast sales trainer and manager for over 30 years. Specializing in local direct sales, his sales teams have experienced large increases in local-direct sales. Michael can be reached at [email protected].


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