How To Shorten The Sales Process


(By Paul Weyland) Sales managers in all-size broadcast markets are not only concerned about shrinking TV/radio rates, but also about longer sales turnaround times. In other words, the time spent prospecting local direct business, getting an appointment, putting together a proposal, making a presentation, handling objections, and then finally closing the sale is just too long. Let’s look at why, and what we could do to shorten that process.

Why is it taking so much to close a sale today as compared to say, 10 or 15 years ago? To begin with, as I have mentioned in previous articles, it’s much harder today than it was in the past to get in touch with a decision-maker. There is so much telephone and email spam out there these days that nobody wants to take a call or open a message from any unfamiliar source (of course, this is also a problem for people in any sales area, not just broadcast sales).

Even if you do reach the decision-maker, it seems to take longer to wrap up details and close. Why? Perhaps it’s because instead of working face to face with the client, we have to engage with busier people via text message, email, and voicemail. In other words, there is less direct contact with the people we need to reach the most.

My friend Peter Tanz at Midwest Communications — like most sales managers — says, “How do we improve the ‘speed’ process?” Good question. How much do you want the meeting? How much are you willing to differentiate yourself from the rest of the local media pack?

Get appointments faster by learning how to effectively use voicemail. Instead of using boring, “deer in the headlight” (OMG! I’m on voicemail) messages, practice leaving a 10-second commercial with a sharp headline that’s sure to get the client’s attention.

Go to the client. We’re becoming afraid of dropping in on a client. But it still works. Who knows? She just might see you. It happens. If not, they might at least get a look at your face, so that next time you call them on the phone they’ll be a little more familiar with you. Or if the decision-maker isn’t there, meet some of the employees. Ask them what’s selling/not selling. Find out what you can about the client, what’s he like? How does he prefer to be contacted?

Send flowers or cookies or donuts or barbeque with a note. I’ve done that and I’ve gotten meetings as a result.

Offer to take the client for a quick cup of coffee. I have found that there is still a kid inside of most people. I’ve called, sent a message, saying, “Hey, let’s get out for a minute. Can I come pick you up and take you out of the office for a cup of coffee?” One of my hard-to-reach clients loved cool cars. One day I borrowed a Porsche 911 from another client. I drove it to my other client’s business, parked where he could see me through his office window, called his cell and asked him if he’d like to go for a test drive. We spent nearly 45 minutes together and he signed our agreement.

Use your celebrity. Never forget you work in the entertainment business. Most people have never been to a radio or TV station. So, invite the client to the station for a tour, lunch, and a brief proposal. When the client arrives, make sure there’s a sign out in the lobby welcoming her.

Austin advertising agency GSD&M found out that their biggest account, Southwest Airlines, was planning to leave them. They invited the CEO to the agency and every employee participated in singing their own version of “Baby Please Don’t Go” to him. The client started crying. GSD&M kept the account. Nowadays, you have to stand out from the clutter if you want to get things done.

Paul Weyland helps broadcast stations get more long-term local direct business. Call him at 512 236 1222 or write to Paul at [email protected]



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