Where does (or should) an advertising sale start?

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


The initial question to ask is: Where does a new sale start? Is it when one of the sales team picks up the phone? Is it when they send an e-mail to a prospective client?

No. A sale starts (or should start) a lot earlier. 

It should start begins with research. Conducting research, understanding your data via channels such as Web sites, magazines, social media, reports, podcasts, blogs, etc., establishes if there is a fit between your media offering and the client brand. 

On many occasions, sales teams have “stuff” to sell. They have a deadline to hit but no prospective clients are buying (for whatever reason, probably unknown at this stage). So, they turn to their regular advertisers. Why? Because they have been dealing with them for many years already, and the hope is they will help them out of the tight spot.

Sales teams often are driven by sales targets when they should be driven by market/client needs.
Sales teams often are driven by sales targets when they should be driven by market/client needs.

The issue with many sales scenarios like the above is they are driven by sales targets. It’s not driven by the market or client need. What is needed here is a complete shift in approach. A market-driven approach to innovation and to new product development … and, of course, selling.

If the market doesn’t see the value exchange in what your salespeople are offering, they simply won’t buy it. 

So, the question that should be the bedrock of any well thought through sales proposal should be why would the market be interested in buying this product or service? Yes, I know it’s not rocket science, but I have seen many examples where the products/services sales teams offer are badly conceived, outdated, or just plain, well, boring.

Having the best offerings to sell

It’s been quite common in my personal experience for an editor thinking that a new, say, weekly supplement would automatically attract large sponsorship monies. Or conversely, maybe an IT team who deletes the highest earning Web site ad spot because the new site they are building may not be able to support that same position.

Where does that leave the salespeople?

Product innovation

Not all new products/services will sell, usually because no one cared to ask the right questions from the product’s beginning. Salespeople are usually never involved. 

It’s important to continually review and innovate with our offerings to ensure that what our sales teams have to offer keeps in line with what the market wants to buy. At the core, there must be collaboration involving all the stakeholders across the disciplines, which must include input from the salespeople — the people at the coal face, trying to sell it all. 

Putting the client approach of “why would they buy it” at the centre of all product reviews and innovations will not only positively increase your bottom line, but it will also provide motivation to the sales teams in the process. They suddenly own it. 

Then, overlay the resulting mix of products and services determined with the research I mentioned earlier, it will leave you with an empowered sales force whose own research skills can be used to identify the prime targets for whatever it is they are to sell. It’s the beginning of the consultative selling process we have tackled here many times in this newsletter and will help ensure you are best positioned for sales success.

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About Mark Challinor

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