(By Paul Weyland)
“And there is no such thing as a no sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way, a sale is made. The only question is, who is gonna close? You or him?”
— Jim Young (Ben Affleck’s character in Boiler Room)
One of the biggest drains of time and energy in broadcast sales is wasting time with elusive decisionmakers who won’t close. Oh, they’ll engage, but ultimately you are never able to close them. And there is a reason they’re not closing. The simple answer is that you have failed to convey value. In other words, you have yet to convince that person, in language that he or she fully understands, that your plan for their success is better than their plan. That’s it.
When your decisionmaker finally realizes that you have nothing substantial to offer him, his job is to close you on why he’s not going to further engage with you. One classic way to get you to leave is to say, “We already have more business than we can handle.”
And there you go. What can you say to that? At that point, what is the use in continuing to try and sell him?
Somewhere along the way I finally figured out that in most cases, the best part about beating your head against the wall is that it feels so good when you stop. I finally wised up and figured out that rather than dealing with trying to break through a brick wall, there might be other, less contentious potential clients out there that I should be calling on.
That’s when I’d thank the client for his time and then go to his nearest competitor and say, “Joe Smith says he has more business than he can handle. You…don’t. Here’s my plan on how we can convert some of his underserved customers from his front door to yours.”
Learning to make better use of your precious time always helps you grow your billing. However, why leave before you’re absolutely convinced that you’re not walking away from budget you didn’t even know was there to begin with? Two cases in point:
Years ago I was having a conversation with one of the best natural media salespeople I’ve ever met, former Clear Channel kingpin John Barger. He related this story: “I owned a few stations in a small market. One of my salespeople convinced me to accompany her as she tried to close a private golf resort. We met the decisionmaker, who said, ‘Mandy, I told you we already have more golf business than we can handle. We don’t have to advertise.’”
“Crap,” John said to himself, before saying to the golf pro, “Well, how else do you make money?” The client stood there and finally said, “We do weddings.” John asked how many weddings they did, and the client said maybe one per month. “How many could you do?” asked John. “One a week,” answered the pro. “Then let’s market that,” said John. And ultimately a nice deal was made.
How else do you make money? Good question.
More recently, a radio GM told me about a successful restaurant in his market called Momma’s that he just couldn’t get on the air. “Paul, I just can’t close him. Every time I try, he tells me he’s already got more business than he can handle.”
I advised him to go back to the client and stroke his ego with a proposal that would make the restaurant a platinum sponsor of every community service the station did from that point on. And to also offer a promotion that would allow listeners to select one area “Momma of the Week,” the winner getting a complimentary meal for their mom plus nine others. The wealthy client, eager to put his name on such great community and family projects, opened his wallet and wound up spending far more per month than the GM had ever asked him for in the past.
So there. When dealing with elusive clients, change your pitch. Again, when your prospect is finally 100 percent convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plan is better than theirs, that’s when you’ve got yourself a customer.
Paul Weyland specializes in helping broadcast companies get more long-term local direct business. If you or your organization needs help, contact him at
www.paulweyland.com or call 512.236.1222.