(By Tom Bloomer) You have probably heard the road to success is always under construction. Well, in thirty years of Advertising sales I’ve had to overcome a lot of dead ends. I’ve navigated those detours and slow lanes and learned many lessons. Lessons traveling the same streets you travel today.
Lesson #1 (Do not actually use this tip until you read #2)
If you are a fan of the old sales movie Tin Men, you may remember the Life Magazine pitch. For me it personified one of the most successful sales strategies I taught. For a 1950’s housewife nothing could be more appealing than the chance to have their home featured on the cover of Life Magazine. The Aluminum salesmen (Tin Men) in this pitch convinced the homeowners that instead of their home being shown as a “before” photo. If they had newly installed beautiful aluminum siding, they could feature them as the “after” front cover shot. All objections including price disappeared as the housewife envisioned showing off for family and friends. On the streets I learned the key for us in direct mail (as it should be for you) would be to build a presentation that would create that Life Magazine vision.
Lesson #2 (Ready to implement Tip #1?)
Want to close more deals? You need to always learn three basic things about every prospect.
What they Need. What they Want. What they can Afford. I have watched far too many deals stall over the years because a seller has mastered the excitement needed to create a Want, without first unearthing what the prospect could Afford. We often struggle or avoid budget discussions for a variety of reasons. But they always bite us in the end when we do not fully address them.
In Direct Mail I could create much more excitement if I only showed beautiful Full-Page ads to my prospects. The “Life Magazine Feel” was so much stronger showing those. Problem was when the prospect could not afford the Full page, they were no longer excited about half page ads. You can avoid the same trap by not offering them your most expensive daypart unless you’ve learned they can afford it. The rest of your offerings still have value.
On the streets I learned not to take the easier shortcuts. I learned to patiently discuss affordability while building excitement. This road also reminded me to discover Need. If I did not understand a prospect’s need, they would never be a client for long.
Lesson #3 (Spoiler Alert, Traditional Media is not Dead)
That includes local radio advertising. There were many times as a young salesperson I wished I had a sexier product. I was known for years as “the coupon guy”. Most of my prospects did not start off excited when shown they should offer a coupon in a coupon book. On the streets I learned that sexy does not sell. Relationships do.
It does not matter what product or station you sell for. Our prospects need to reach their audience. You can help them do that, but only if you first build a relationship that allows you to show them how you can help them. Problem is, after hiring a new seller, most companies spend most of their time teaching you about their product. They seldom bother to teach you about relationships. No excuses. There are plenty of great resources where you can learn.
Lesson #4 (News Flash: Sales is a 24/7 career)
Cold calling was certainly not easy when I was out in the streets. Prospecting for me meant driving my territory all day. It meant knocking on doors, praying to find a decision maker not only in but willing to come out from the back office and speak with me. Thing was, there was no other way. That was how business got done. Lucky for me I was willing to work harder than most. Today, the game has changed. While door knocks can still work, they are no longer the most effective use of time. Social media, google searches, and virtual selling have become game changers.
What has not changed is the fact that almost 90% of decision makers simply do not respond to cold call attempts. Today lead generation, prospecting and even appointment setting happen quicker and more effectively when combined with social selling behaviors. I speak with current retail advertising sellers every week that are connecting with their top prospects this way. They are engaging with them. Building respect and a level of trust before their first appointment even takes place. Social selling begins with your company brand but takes flight for you as you build a strong personal brand.