(By Bob McCurdy) Many successful salespeople think of themselves as marketers/educators who also “sell.” This foundational view is based on the notion that if clients know what they know, the clients would then be likely to believe what they believed and, more often than not, then do what they’re recommending.
But to “educate,” a salesperson must first establish that they are “worth being seen” in this saturated media vendor landscape. One way of accomplishing this is by continually bringing the three “I’s”- information, insights, and ideas to the client or prospect. And one of the side-benefits of being seen is that it enables a salesperson to “pre-sell” their media assets by continually restating and reframing their “story” prior to a revenue opportunity surfacing.
Preselling done right is the “I am trying to sell you something but will not be boorishly overly aggressive about it, while I effectively brand and separate myself from the competition, learning more about your business and deepening our relationship, while simultaneously positioning myself and my media assets in a professional fashion” approach. No question it’s a mouthful, but it’s a strategy that remains as effective today as it’s ever been.
At its core, preselling reflects a belief that business must be continuously earned, and one of the most effective ways it is earned is by consistently communicating what differentiates your media assets from the competition’s before the buyer or client needs to make a purchasing decision. That’s why there’s the prefix “pre” before “selling.”
Preselling is easier today than it’s ever been due to the communication tools at our fingertips. It requires some planning, but most importantly it requires discipline. Effective preselling, while requiring some time on the front end, saves a lot more on the back end, and reduces stress, uncertainty, and wasted hours, while increasing effectiveness, job satisfaction, job security, and most importantly, income.
Because we anticipated, stayed in contact with the buyer or planner, consistently forwarded and discussed useful information — which not only reinforced our story but served to enhance our relationship — we can focus on the “important” and not the “urgent.” While the competition is scurrying around trying to sell their cluster’s benefits to the buyer/client, who has no time to listen due to their own deadlines/work commitments, by having done the “important” (effectively preselling), we are not required to do the less-effective and often fruitless “urgent,” trying to sell the value of our media assets once there’s money on the table.
For decades the main excuse for not preselling has been the lack of time, but top performers find a way, and if they can’t “find” a way, they “make” a way. There’s time to chat with co-workers, post on Facebook and Instagram, hit the gym, etc. so if there’s time for this stuff, there’s time to presell. Time is “found” for what is believed to be important, for the other stuff excuses suffice. Positioning the importance and value of our stations in advance of an avail/opportunity is quite important and is one of the most effective ways to close more sales from both agencies and direct clients.
Preselling is visibility with value and is not limited to being face-to-face. While we can’t be physically present with every client every day, nor would they want us to be, we can maintain effective visibility when we’re not in their presence, creatively telling our story before it needs to be embraced or refreshed.
The outcome of any sales opportunity is largely predetermined by the time there is a revenue opportunity. The best performers understand this and never lose sight of the fact that their media assets are only effectively presold when their clients/prospects are 100% convinced they are deserving of their business. Not one moment before. They also understand preselling is a never-ending, ongoing process.
Preselling is “effective selling” and goes hand-in-hand with educating. Do both and good things happen. By the way, this applies to both terrestrial assets as well as digital assets. Are clients and buyers busier than ever before? Yep. But preselling is still possible. Be sure to find a way, or make a way, to make it happen.
Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.