Crisis of confidence in advertising sales fuels revenue losses


Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move men”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749 to 1832

The quote leading this posting holds a significant truth for those of us who strive to address the multiple challenges of the rapidly transforming media and advertising environment.

The truth it speaks to is addressed from different perspectives in previous blog posts, “Positioning your company as a winner” (February 2011) and “Talking the talk of success” (April 2013).

Adapted to fit the media sales challenge, Goethe’s quote might be paraphrased as: “You have to have big ideas to succeed because no one writes big checks for small ideas.”

Over the past seven months, the marketing team at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey has supported several significant and successful sales initiatives undertaken by our advertising colleagues.

The outcomes have demonstrated that when we present from a position of strength and confidence, clients respond with respect and confidence – and often we do get “a big check.”

In fact, our batting average securing major contracts for new clients and major increases with existing clients is more than respectable. And the success of those account executives who acted boldly is inspiring others to act similarly.

I sincerely believe the root of the advertising revenue losses suffered by newspaper companies rests not just with declining paid circulation or print audiences, but with a crisis of confidence.

Most newspaper account executives have available a host of print and digital solutions that more than compensate, through diversification, for the declining reach of the core product.

Instead of embracing the diversified portfolio, too many fixate on the daily newspaper circulations and wring their hands over that single issue.

Regaining client confidence (assuming you have lost it over the past few years of doom and gloom) is not so hard. It is a matter of presenting your organisation’s robust multi-media capabilities — coupled with a knowledge of and interest in their marketing challenges and objectives — then pointing out how you can apply the former to address the latter.

It is gratifying to witness how a confidently presented overview of our products, audiences, services, and capabilities transforms wary, skeptical clients into individuals not just willing but eager to explore how we might help them.

I’ve referenced confidence five times in the preceding paragraphs for a reason. To regain client confidence, you must also restore the confidence of your sales team. (There are three more references.)

They need to believe in what they do, what they say, and that they can indeed provide benefit to their client. They need to exude success. They need to think of themselves as winners playing on a winning team.

Ironically, this attitude is most often based in their belief that they can deliver a win for the client. (see November 2012 post, “Focus on client success to ensure your success”).

Which leads to my final point for this post: The most critical component of your account executive being confident (and the client being confident in the account executive) is sincerity.

Sincerity is what separates confidence from cockiness. Sincerity is developed from knowledge and experience, not bravado. And sincerity is required because your account executives need to succeed with and for their clients repeatedly — not just once, for one big check.

Be bold, be daring, but most of all, dare to succeed.

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