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3 Strategies for Effectively Developing the Right Calling Approach

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 23, 2017 8:19:00 PM

Whether you’re new to sales, or an experienced pro, developing the right approach to making sales calls is a strategic advantage.
As a salesperson, oftentimes the first impression you make is over the phone. Whether that’s talking to a new prospect, building a client relationship, or maintaining contact with long term clients.
Developing an effective calling approach and phone persona is essential to your sales success. But how can you develop an approach that will consistently drive results?
Consider these 3 strategies as you develop, refine, and optimize your calling approach: 
sales call approach ideas

1. Personalize Your Message

Think about who you are calling and why you are calling them before you pick up the phone.

First, we must consider what kind of leads are you calling and what’s the right strategy for each?

For example, let’s say you were just assigned a new lead. This lead came in through the website as an inbound lead who downloaded your newest eBook. What’s the approach for this type of lead?

To start, we must do our best to research who the person is, what company they work for, why they might be interested in the eBook, and whether they’ve downloaded any other resources from your website.

Why are these things important?

Because each piece of information helps you paint a picture of who you are calling. The more you know about the company, the person, or the industry in general will set you up for success because you’ll be able to tailor your message by saying something that resonates with the lead.

In this inbound lead example, you could personalize your message in a simple, yet logical way by helping them identify the key takeaways from the eBook they just downloaded and offer ideas about how the information applies to their job, company, or industry.

Taking this approach helps you position yourself as an expert, presents your company/offering in a positive light, and lets you take the role of the helpful salesperson who is educating them on new information and solutions.


2. Build Your Sales Story

 Identifying the right approach for each type of lead is only part of the game. The next step is to build your value proposition by crafting a compelling sales story.

We often think that facts and figures are what motivate people to take action. But the truth? Facts and figures aren’t nearly as effective as telling a great story.

Let’s say you’ve got a prospect on the line and they want to learn more about your solution. Instead of rattling off numbers that will mean nothing to them, consider walking them through the story of how you’ve helped other companies, maybe even mention a competitor of theirs, and help them visualize how your product and/or service delivered results for that company.

For example, you could say something like: “We’ve had a lot of success with companies like yours who have experienced some of the same challenges you may be facing, so I’d like to learn more about what you’re doing, tell you how we’ve been implementing solutions for businesses like yours, and see if there’s a match.”

You’re not only going to get their attention fast, they’re going to want to know how they did it, when they started doing it, how far behind they are, and what they need to do to catch up.


3. Understand the Rhythm of the Call

Listening is the key to a great conversation. So when we are speaking with prospects and clients over the phone, we must listen to the rhythm of the call and make certain decisions based on the rhythm.

If you ask a question and the other person responds as soon as you finish speaking, this probably means they’re tuned in. On the other hand, if there’s a long gap and their response doesn’t really relate to the question you asked, they’re probably not connected to the conversation.

As sales professionals, our goal is to ask 2nd level questions in order to create a more substantial conversation. 2nd level questions, asked in the right context, encourage the customer to share relevant information needed to understand their true interest in our business solution as well as their motivation to help their organization acquire it.

This is the type of conversation when the customer reacts to the salesperson’s interest and capabilities by sharing relevant information about their background, biases, plans as well as their power, influence, and motivation to buy.

The best way to help them make more sales is to maximize their time with people most likely to buy and minimize their investment in time with the rest.  At the same time, sellers need to dig out opportunities that are not immediately obvious but lying just below the surface waiting for a skilled salesperson to uncover and close.



Remember these 3 strategies the next time you’re ready to pick up the phone, and you’ll be on your way to building a connection with your prospects and clients while creating a more open sales dialogue.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated.

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Topics: sales, tips, selling, sellers, prospecting, value, skills, sales tips, sales training, digital media training, cold calling, call, small business, improving, marketing, strategy, phone

What’s the Cost of NOT Training Your Salespeople?

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Dec 15, 2016 2:05:00 PM

Well, let’s just say it’s costing you a lot more by NOT training your sales team.

You’ve probably all seen the endless statistics and reports about employee disengagement, unemployment rates, and the seemingly unrectifiable skills gap. Maybe you yourself are feeling disengaged or seeing too much turnover and not enough qualified individuals to fill open positions.  

Well, if you or your company have been putting off professional development and training for far too long, then it’s time for a change. Because realizing the importance of educating, coaching, and training employees and then actually implementing effective programs is the only way to achieve long term company success.

So why does your company need sales training? Consider asking these questions:

  1. If we raise the seller’s goals, do we expect them to hit their goals without improving skills, strategies, or tactics?
  1. If we haven’t hit the goals that our competitors have reached, what does that say about our previous forms of training?
  1. If your company invested in training last year but didn’t achieve the intended results, did anyone reinforce that training or was the expectation that the effect of training would be like a tattoo on each seller’s brain?
  1. If last year’s skills are the best we can hope for, what will that cost us this year?

While some sellers and managers may view sales training as “optional” or as a “luxury,” that thinking is short sighted and unrealistic. Simply “checking the box” on training won’t cut it anymore. If it actually worked, then everyone would do it that way.

Professional football teams would take the week off before a big game and then just sort of warm up before each game. Actors and actresses on Broadway would meet a few weeks before the show so the director could hand them the script and say “obviously you’re a professional, so you know how to perform the script. No need for rehearsal, see you opening night…”

But this doesn’t happen. And there’s a reason professionals make a habit of practicing and fine-tuning their skills.

When people are training all the time, they develop a "muscle memory" and get really good at processing information.  They become accustomed to finding something that resonates and then they are able to apply it to their daily activities. But when people rarely attend training, their skills fade and they struggle process and apply the training information.

Benefits of Sales Coaching and Training

Okay, so now that we’ve covered a few key considerations and reasons why you should invest in sales training, let’s look at some of the benefits:

Improved Performance

Employee education and training is designed to give your people the proficiency and tools they need to learn new skills and refresh old ones. It’s key in every industry to stay on top of new trends, timesaving technologies, and how to stay competitive. Providing training will make sure the entire team is fully competent and can help you set clear expectations with regards to new goals. Whether the company’s output is struggling or already doing a stellar job, training will only help to increase its performance further and deliver a great return on investment.

Higher Engagement

It’s no secret that unhappy, disengaged, and uninspired employees can eventually become less productive. Ensuring employee happiness with appropriate benefits and perks is only one part of the formula. Keeping them truly engaged by cultivating their specific skills further, as well as, providing education in the areas where they aim to improve, will increase their interest in their work and new projects.

Higher Retention Rates

Re-engaging employees through training and further education will improve their overall job performance and satisfaction. They’ll be less likely to let their eyes wander for other career opportunities since they’ve increased their skill level and hopefully intend to conquer new challenges. Investing in your company’s employees helps to show them their value, potential expertise, and the company’s focus on maintaining a long-term relationship with them. Having higher retention rates will decrease the huge costs often involved in employee turnover. Making the small additional effort to train your current employees will save your company the headache of later trying to replace them.

Cohesive Onboarding

If your company has been expanding and adding to its staff then you’re probably already familiar with the difficult task of getting new members up to speed. If not done properly, you may later experience many unforeseen problems and confusion. Thinking ahead and providing onboarding training to your newest employees will help eliminate future turbulence due to unclear expectations and potentially unfamiliar methods. It will also convey the company’s desire to engage with and improve upon the skills new workers bring to the table.

Elimination of the Skills Gap

Some companies are having trouble finding the right people to fill open positions. Closing the skills gap is something that your company can do with training. Whether there’s a current employee who has shown incredible potential and just needs some more knowledge to transition into the open position, or a prospective hire that’s promising if it wasn’t for their minor lack in a certain area, why shouldn’t you just train them? It’s unrealistic to believe that if you’ve already been waiting for months, that if you just wait a little bit longer, the perfect, ideal, absolutely spectacular candidate will come along. That’s not to say you should lower your standards, but accepting that you will most likely have to teach anyone coming into the role a thing or two, why should you contribute to the growth of the skills gap if you could just rectify the situation and start training?

Reduction of Skill Fade

Do you remember everything you’ve ever learned? Of course not. Even the most dedicated and skilled employees will eventually start losing grasp of things they learned decades, years, months, weeks, or even days before. Having regular training sessions or better yet - ongoing training - will help reduce the previously inescapable skill fade-out phenomenon. Reinforcing previously learned material will ensure employees are always current with their knowledge and continue to increase their performance.

What it comes down to is that sales organizations must redefine what training and learning means to them. Success in sales means being prepared, nimble, and continuously developing the right skills that will have a positive impact on the entire business.

What is your company’s biggest excuse for not training their employees? Is it too expensive to train them? Or is it a bigger expense if you DON’T train them?

The 12 Days of Selling - Free DMTraining eBook Offer

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Topics: sales, tips, sales training, managing, digital media training

Why the Need for Digital Sales Training Isn’t Going Away

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 17, 2016 8:54:00 AM

Throughout the past few years, the need for digital sales training has only continued to grow. The most significant change we’ve observed after training salespeople from all across the media space is that all media sellers, now need to be on the bleeding edge of all digital developments in order to have a “typical” sales conversation with the “average” advertiser.

The biggest challenge in the digital space is the pace of change, which keeps accelerating. For salespeople to keep pace their training needs to be ongoing, with the content continuously refreshed—all while being measured against ROI benchmarks to ensure that the sales needle moves in the right direction.

I still meet salespeople who tell me how they were able to wing it in their first few years in the business. It might have been possible that some premium content sellers with limited offerings could still do that in 2010, but in 2016 everyone is selling and up against competitors selling every form of targeted, ROI+ digital advertising.

“The other guy” likely has more reach, more visitors, more measureable engagement, and possibly less expensive inventory—apart from every conceivable agency marketing service.

In this marketplace an untrained seller has no chance. And while every ad team has at least one “rocket scientist” (or at least a really smart Digital Sales Manager), learning from the smartest person on your team is never as effective as bringing in people that are specialized trainers.


Without training, the majority of media sellers this year will be at a 2013 level of understanding—and that’s only if they actually spend time training themselves.

Training is practice.

We are training ourselves all the time. If you occasionally pick up a new insight into digital marketing, you get good at using that little bit of knowledge during sales conversations.

Over time, you’ll pick up more and get better at speaking with confidence, even if you barely understand what you’re saying. Since that happens to so many salespeople they are misled into thinking that they don’t need actual training.

Self-training isn’t going to give a seller a competitive advantage in 2016.

Every seller is trying to outsell their competitors using the same old “just winging-it” method. Only the seller who is better than their competition at aligning their offering with the advertiser’s goal while properly selling against their competition, over time, brings in more of the right deals at the right budget. The best trained sellers can convert a “test” budget into a long term relationship that equally benefits the advertiser, the publisher, and the salesperson.

Ongoing training is the key to having confident conversations. Last year’s vocabulary won’t cut it when you are having a conversation about attribution, safe environments, viewability, and engagement metrics. Even if a seller studied programmatic, video, and mobile 2 years ago, the space has changed so much that it’s like we’re starting all over again.

So what is the key benefit to ongoing training in a world that just never stops changing?

With ongoing practice, we improve our ability to learn. We speed up the process of learning new things, and start to be able to discuss new technologies, business models, and strategies. But to make that training work, it must be customized.

First, it must match the seller’s level of understanding and second, it must be applied to the specific sales situations that sellers find themselves in. When it comes to digital, most sellers are embarrassed about what they don’t know. As a result most organizations guess at the proper level for their staff and their training usually starts at a level that’s too advanced. Unfortunately, when the training misses that mark the affected salespeople tune out.

To make training situationally specific, role-plays based on actual upcoming meetings with real customers is essential. Otherwise sellers think they “get it” and don’t realize how poorly prepared they are until it’s too late and the sales opportunity is lost.

Let’s assume that the rate of change in the digital space will continue to accelerate and to keep up, the rate of sales training needs to keep pace. By employing purposeful and effective training, sellers can gain a competitive advantage that will keep them relevant.

How to Solve 5 Common Problems in Your Sales Team - Free eBook

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Topics: training, digital media training, digital sales

How to Sell More Effectively by Asking the Right Questions

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Mar 4, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Selling right means asking the right questions.

This is the single most important sales tip I’ve taken away from the digital world. It’s not just about asking, it’s about learning to listen and interpret the answers.


By working with thousands of account managers/directors who’ve struggled to get the renewal and/or upgrade contract signed, I’ve been able to come up with a magic formula: making sure that as soon as you touch the account, by either getting the contract signed or inheriting the existing account, you start asking, “What are you trying to accomplish?” and “How will you measure success?” These are the standard needs assessment questions for media sellers, however they apply to sellers of all industries regardless of whether they’re a hunter (account executive) or a farmer (account manager).

These questions help to clarify the client’s objectives, and perhaps not as obviously, they improve the sales conversation itself.

The discussions following these basic questions help the seller to close the sale, then deliver the right service, and finally, encourage that client to buy again. The client will feel comfortable in knowing that they’ve been understood and that knowledge sets the right tone for the sales relationship. It also helps the seller with other accounts. By learning from their clients, salespeople can turn their knowledge into stories which can be shared with other prospects to inspire confidence in their expertise.

Failure to ask these questions and interpret their answers properly results in the dreaded: selling wrong. Even if a deal is closed, it can still be sold wrong.

How is that possible?

Most sellers base their proposals, contracts, and service level agreements on what they learn, and fail to learn, during the sales process. When customers end the relationship or fail to renew, the seller can be tempted to blame everyone except themselves. Unfortunately oftentimes the blame is theirs alone. If they didn’t ask those big questions, and maybe only probed to find the basic needs, the client’s reluctance to renew may be the seller’s fault. Only by asking the right questions and later interpreting and even negotiating the benchmarks, can a salesperson understand the client thoroughly enough to deliver the right services. This also ties into the seller’s deep knowledge of their company, so they can ensure they’ve leveraged its strengths and avoided its weaknesses.

Borrowing the two questions: “What are you trying to accomplish?” and “How will you measure success?” from digital sales, and then learning to interpret their answers will help you sell right. It’ll improve your sales conversations and solidify client relationships.

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Topics: sales training, digital media training, asking the right questions, adding value, account manager, sales questions, how to

What is Integrated Selling?

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Nov 18, 2013 5:21:00 PM

Today’s media sellers, regardless of their legacy medium, need to reinvent themselves into “Integrated Sellers.” What I mean by this is that even if you are selling newspaper advertising


 for a tiny community where the demographics suggest no one is using a computer, you are still selling an integrated campaign. Why? Because enough people are going online in every community that to believe your community is an exception is an unsafe bet. There are street people in 3rd world countries that are online. Think of the last place on Earth to go digital. Guess what? Lots of those people are already signed-up for Facebook and you may be unintentionally emailing them even as we speak.

In the last few years I’ve met more than 1,000 media sellers inside and outside the US. Some of them were pushed into our Digital Media Landscape class reluctantly, hoping right up to the opening bell that this whole “internet thing” would just blow over. Well, it hasn’t and it isn’t about to soon.

We should embrace and not resist this change. The Integrated Seller is all about:

  • Ongoing Education

  • Developing Relationships 

  • Helping Brands Sell 

  • Reaching the Right People with the Right Message


Ongoing Education

As the phrase goes, knowledge is power, and in the case of becoming an integrated seller and selling digital media this especially rings true. One of the first steps to becoming an integrated seller is ongoing education. This is because in an industry that is constantly changing and introducing new technologies and strategies, it is essential to stay up-to-date about the evolving digital landscape. A few industry related websites and newsletters that can help get you started are:

IAB SmartBrief
All Things D 
AdAge Digital


Developing Relationships

Building off the importance of ongoing education, consider how your knowledge fuels your business relationships. The integrated sale is all about improving relationships in a very meaningful way. The more we understand how this new landscape works and how users engage with brands online, the more valuable a business partner we become. Once educated, we will more confidently be able to suggest a campaign that is cross-platform and covers multiple media channels, also referred to as a 360° campaign. This type of campaign works toward reaching consumers on their preferred platform and encouraging qualified users to take action that works toward creating brand awareness and then ultimately gaining new customers. The more we understand, the better we can act as a resource to our clients and business partners.

Helping Brands Sell

As an integrated salesperson, we must be able to help brands understand the various business opportunities that are available to them. We can help them identify opportunities they might be missing or we can help find the sweet spots in the marketplace where they can reach and hold on to more customers. While mass reach media may create awareness, today’s businesses must have a digital presence in order for customers to find them, learn about them and eventually buy from them. And in today’s marketing place, we must consider each and every platform, especially mobile devices. Recent research suggests that the mobile web is growing 14 times faster than desktop traffic, as consumers interact with apps, social network and email from a slew of smart devices.

Reaching the Right People with the Right Message

The Integrated Seller knows that reaching a targeted, qualified audience is only half the battle. In order to reach the right people at the right time with the right message, we must distinguish between users at the top, middle, and bottom of the buying funnel. To do this, consider what type of content is being used to attract users and encourage interaction. Are the top of the funnel prospects getting information that is geared to educating them about your product or service? Or are they receiving information that is geared more toward prospects that are at the bottom of the funnel and are ready to buy? Think before sending. It’s important that we send relevant messaging to the appropriate people because if they receive a message they are interested in, it will result in higher levels of interaction and engagement.

What are you doing to “integrate” yourself as a salesperson?

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Topics: digital media training, digital media sales, integrated selling, selling integrated media, 360 degree campaign

6 Online Display Marketing Terms You Need to Know

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Oct 3, 2013 10:00:00 AM



ROS or RON (Run of Site or Run of Network)

These ads will show anywhere on the site or network. Sometimes the ROS/RON parts of a campaign outperform more targeted ad filtering. ROS/RON inventory costs tend to be the lowest, so arithmetically; it is easier to get a campaign closer to ROI+ when you start off with low cost inventory. In the optimization process, advertisers may be surprised to learn that the audience of people who find their ads most interesting are a bit of a surprise - and are only discovered through this "shotgun" approach. As you use the data you are gathering to minimize unproductive ad impressions, the remaining inventory generally see more clicks and conversions per visitor.

Content Channel

Some sites and most networks only serve ads in places where the site content around the ad is "contextually relevant" to the ad. For example, showing a sneaker ad among running and exercise content.

Single Site/Value Add

When an advertiser chooses to spend a significant portion of the media budget on a single site, that site will usually return the favor by offering that advertiser unique or special ad inventory. This relationship is called "value add." Value add may be in the form of page sponsorships, wallpaper, inclusion in a newsletter, etc. Advertisers with branding goals may find this option very efficient.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting involves serving ads to users whose past click history indicates an interest in a particular subject area. For example, if a user visits 20 travel sites over a week, we may be able to identify this user as someone who is interested in travel to a particular location. That user may start seeing those ads, even when they are on a non-travel site. Ads which show up on "contextually irrelevant" sites may still get a lot of clicks. The power of behavioral targeting is at least two fold: partly because the ads are truly more relevant to that user, and also seeing relevance where it is not expected is surprising and very effective for in attracting consumers.


Retargeting is a form of behavioral targeting, where users who go to a particular page of an advertiser's site - usually along the conversion path-- can be served new ads on a subsequent web surfing session encouraging them to return to that advertiser's site. The ads are usually tuned to the level of interest displayed in the first visit. For example, consumers on an online flower-buying site who do not complete the check out process may start seeing ads promoting a $5-off sale on flowers. The thought process here is that the additional discount may convince a consumer to complete their purchase. Or, people who stopped at the shirt page of a men's clothing site may see ads for new shirts from that same vendor. Even people who have bought before may be targeted. Once sites identify a user and cookies them, they may see those retargeted ads for a long time.

Other Targeting Filters

There are many other different types of filters. Day-parting, geo-targeting (down to a zip code, usually done in DMAs - demographic market areas - or states, or national or selected countries.), by browser type, ISP, operating system, or domain. In domain targeting, users visiting a site or network with a specified domain like @EzineArticles.com will see an ad no one else will see. Social Media Marketing companies like dstillery (formerly Media6Degrees) can also serve ads to users who are connected to each other through social media following, in this case, with a kind of 6-degrees of separation kind of strategy.

Learning the meaning and application of key online display marketing terms helps make you a more effective and productive sales person. At the very least, in the next meetings you can nod wisely and even pose some key questions or suggestions!


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Topics: sales, digital media, digital media training, digital marketing terms, digital marketing, digital training, vocabulary, online display marketing

The #1 Common Mistake Salespeople Make

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Sep 23, 2013 2:00:00 PM

get_attentionThere are some who think that if an idea is good enough, the product or service will walk, run or jump off the shelf right into the lap of eager buyers. Those are the same people who believe that life is inherently based on “what is fair.” Life lesson: life isn’t fair and if you are in sales you know this about life and probably love that about life too. I, personally, don’t want fair; I welcome an unfair advantage all the time. As a competitive seller, I am always looking to unlevel the sales playing field and muddle the “fair” RFP (Request for Proposal) process. It’s true that the buy does go to the best media sales partner. However, best is very subjective. It takes great selling ability to persuade the buyer that your media is the best place to advertise.

Today, the pressure is on for media sellers, especially digital / integrated sellers. Usually, but not always, sellers believe in their own offering, be it a network, a branded content site or a combination of the two. Let’s say management created the right ad packages, marketing provided all the support needed, account managers and digital natives worked their magic and hit a homerun with their Big Idea, and then the company successfully launched the campaign and earned a renewal. Now the seller should be able to convert all of that into an increased budget for the next campaign. From a high level, it looks like every company has great a salesperson who knows what to do but that’s not always the case.

Even though many salespeople know better, here is the #1 common mistake salespeople make, specifically integrated /digital salespeople:

#1 Common Mistake – Not Taking The Time To Learn About The Space They Are Selling In

This mistake comes in 4 flavors:

1. Not Familiarizing Themselves With The Entire Digital Landscape

It’s not enough for the site or network to appear in the “display” space; the seller needs to understand all of the ways sites can attract and monetize an audience. They have to study how the interaction between search and social media drives traffic to each advertiser’s site. They have to understand enough about web graphics, site design and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to be able to talk intelligently about engaging targeted users. They need to be observant about how brands use the latest ad units, CTA and landing pages differently depending on whether the target is at the top middle or bottom of the funnel. Sellers need to gather success stories about how content – paid, owned, earned and shared – complete the best campaigns. Sellers need to understand both the possibilities and limitations of each form of targeting – from geo-targeting/geo-fencing to BT (Behavioral Targeting) and DSPs (Demand Side Platforms). And everyone needs to know what data experts are now collecting so they can understand what data matters most to each buyer. Collecting valuable data can be as important as CTR (click through rate) and other campaign metrics.

Sellers need to stay ahead of the curve in order to discuss how mobile is changing the way their users engage with online content. Most sellers have the wrong idea about mobile - mobile doesn’t split your audience, it adds an extra dimension. Mobile users enjoy task-oriented behavior when they are away from their desktop. What brand doesn’t want to reach that kind of user? Armed with all of this, the seller can tell a compelling story about optimizing engagements and scaling results. Without this broad understanding of the landscape, sellers rely on persuasively throwing up on their prospects (“let me tell you what we offer….we offer the following stuff”). Also, the most classic form of this mistake is only knowing the same legacy peers you faced as an offline media (print, broadcast, cable, etc.) and not knowing enough about the newest, non-traditional digital competitors and be able to defend yourself against them.

2. Not Recognizing The Digital Landscape Parts Their Advertising Prospects Are Playing In

You need to know where else your advertising prospects are playing. Are they investing in paid search or SEO campaigns? If they are, they’d probably appreciate additional traffic to their common keywords. If they are also playing on social media, they may want to drive additional likes, shares, followers, etc. What is their paid, owned and earned strategy? Do they have a lead recapture strategy? What we are talking about is the digital extension of the most basic of sales principles – know your customer so that your sales pitch sounds more like help and less like unsolicited advice.

3. Not Using The Necessary Tools To Determine The “Digital Competitive Advantage” – Or Disadvantage Of Their Prospect Against Their Peers

Your prospects have competitors online. They are trying to drive more traffic to their site, better traffic and more engagements than your prospect. They are running display ads on sites and networks, bidding on keywords and optimizing their content. They have a certain number of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. But, what is their sentiment monitoring score? How visible are their organic listings on search engines? Are others outbidding them on Paid Search? Who are their competitors targeting and on what platform are they reaching those targets? How much traffic goes to the competitor’s site? Your prospect should be gaining a competitive advantage—or attempting to gain an advantage – over their competitors in all these areas. Imagine walking into a meeting with screen shots of competitor ads plus campaign analysis? How great would you look? Now picture your competitor is walking into the buyers office with deep dived research and you are walking in with nothing but a stapled collection of your corporate overview. They will think you are kidding! No wonder you were left off the buy or couldn’t snag that increase you were hoping for.

4. Not Focusing Enough On How The Advertiser’s Needs Uniquely Meet With Your Site Or Network Offering But Instead On What Your Own Site/Network Can Do

Obviously walking into a buyer’s office without an in-depth knowledge about your own site, site traffic and description of your targeting, content-creation and other details is embarrassing (just in case you are having trouble visualizing this, I will be referring to this classic mistake in a future blog). But, for the moment, let’s focus on how prepared you are to match up the client’s goals with your site and offerings. You need to make it easy for them to figure out how best to use your services. Why not spell out clearly how they can achieve their goals with your site? Do they already have video which you can re-purpose? Do they already have engagement points on their site that you can drive traffic against? Do they already have rich media ad units you discovered as part of your pre-meeting research? Let’s help the prospect connect the dots by learning what they are trying to do and how their goals can be met with your offering.

It’s a brave new world. Take the blinders off and you will see that in the game of ad sales the internet has called for a big “do-over” and we are all starting from scratch but it will benefit you to remember to NOT make any of these common selling mistakes.

Understanding the Mobile Advertising Landscape

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Topics: common mistakes, trends, sales, sales training, digital media training, digital, digital sales, strategy, sales manager, digital training, mistakes

How To Sell Digital Media (Part 2)

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Jun 19, 2013 9:15:00 AM

If you are selling media, you need to learn the value and goal of each of these desired engagements.  Now, take that information and focus your presentation on matching their goals with these four attributes of your advertising opportunity:digital_handshake-1

1. Over-indexing

2. Zero Share

3. Unduplicated Audience

4. Loyalty

Let’s look at each in detail:

  1. Over-indexing refers to measuring specific buying behaviors of your visitor’s compared to those of your peer group.  Which quality – THAT IS IMPORTANT TO A SPECIFIC ADVERTISER – does your site or network reach in greater abundance or to a greater degree than your peer group of advertising competitors?

  2. “Zero Share” refers to advertisers who are on someone else’s advertising vehicle but not yours.  Sellers need to know this in order to more strategically find leads; agencies concerned with understanding the digital landscape, separation of advertisers, and category exclusives should know this too.

  3. Unduplicated Audience. In the same way as there is always a bigger fish, there is always a bigger network that also reaches the same target your site does.  So, what part of your audience is more likely to be found on your site than your competitors' (including the network’s ad inventory on sites that are part of the “bigger” network). 

  4. Loyalty refers to the tendency of repeat visitors on an ad-supported site/network to come to the site by way of “favorites” (as opposed to first time visitors who get there via Search Engines and Social Media –check the referring codes on site visitors to see how visitors find your site) as well as engage with your content across all of your platforms.  For example, does your small but loyal audience all download your app? Do a high percentage of them view your site on a mobile device?  Do they attend your events or follow you on Twitter?

No site or network is inherently better – the question is can you do a better job of matching their goals to your offering - -and backing up your claims with real numbers and credible research sources. If you can make that case, you will be #1 in the advertiser’s eyes. Otherwise, you are #2.


About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: digital media, digital media training, digital

Is the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Necessary?

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Jun 17, 2013 9:00:00 AM

IAB_CertThe IAB offers a Digital Media Sales Certification. The program was created by and for industry experts. It raises the level of professionalism by allowing salespeople to demonstrate their knowledge of the most important concepts, guidelines and best practices in interactive advertising. Likewise, companies benefit by ensuring that they have the most knowledgeable sales teams possible.  Some companies have already embraced this and are offering to pay for their employees who are qualified to take this test. 

For those of you still on the fence, consider the following:  

What serves the advertiser best? 

Isn’t this our fallback criteria for all decisions?  The test is for sellers and other client-facing digital sales professionals who have been in the business for at least a few years.  For them, the test will be challenging but passable. However, for rookies with less than 2 years of experience, this test may be too daunting.  It is this very fact that makes the certification so very valuable.  People who sell other media usually recognize each other’s competence by the number of years they have been in that business.  Without question, a 15 year veteran of print or television sales knows what they are talking about.  But, in the digital arena, a person with 15 years’ experience can probably tell us all about the early days of AOL and Friendster, etc., but may not be ready to address advertiser’s concerns about mobile apps.  It is not the years, but the miles, so to speak. 

Advertisers are best served by professionals who understand how to leverage 360° campaigns across multiple platforms that engage users through social media and SEO.  Without the right chops, the seller doesn’t even know what to ask let alone what to present.  People who pass that test can truly help advertisers.

What serves the media company best? 

Every digital publisher I have spoken to in the last few years has told me that their offering keeps expanding but their competition now includes non-traditional peers who may have more visitors, uniques, page views, etc.  These kinds of competitive differences can only be overcome with skills and knowledge.  The alternative is business lost to competitors as well as selling wrong, where clients with the goals that don’t fit your sweet spot are being worked on tirelessly by your already-overworked service team.  That is the recipe for defeat.  An IAB Certified sales team knows how to compete correctly.  It’s like the NFL out there, digitally speaking.  Do you really want to play against an NFL team with an intramural flag football team of non-certified sellers?  You are buying the best content, partnering with best resources, using the best technology – and then you want to cheap out with non-certified sellers?  What does that communicate to the rest of the industry about your commitment to excellence?


What serves the sales team best?

Investing in your players builds a team much more effectively than a team-building day in the woods.  Yes, the certification challenges your team to be at their best.  Why would you –or they – be satisfied by anything less?  Best case, they have a stressful day on the day they take the test.  Worst case is that they prepared for the test and “wasted” some time learning things they didn’t know but come up daily.

The commitment to professionalism by passing the IAB test communicates to peers, partners and clients that the seller and their organization is in this game for the long haul.  What does not being certified communicate?

Sign up here for the Digital Sales Certification Training



About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: sales tips, digital media training, digital, how to sell digital media, digital marketing

Targeting: How Much is Too Much?

Posted by Molly Depasquale on May 24, 2013 12:03:00 PM

Calling all media buyers who are tempted to apply a severe demo-targeting requirement to their next buy, is described by media sellers as "targeting to death." Can you achieve your goals without micro-managing the targeting requirements? From a high level, targeting on a publisher site may appear to be the safest choice. But, in actual practice, it may work against your own best interest.
Are you an over-targeter? Do you find that you shop endlessly for just the right target –audience profile and content and the both together - only to find that no one can hit your targeted impression goals on quality content? Publishers and networks call this targeting to death. A horrible way to go. Often the publisher misses the goal for the first 3 weeks of the campaign month and then a network comes in for a scaled AND targeted BIG week 4. Was this really necessary? More importantly, is it in the advertiser's best interest?
two figures holding up a bulls-eye One of the best things about digital advertising is the ability to target. Apart from contextually targeting users on relevant content, we can reach any demographic through behavioral targeting and past shoppers with retargeting. Let's not leave out geo, day-part as well as targeting by OS, device, browser and even Geo-dem. There are 62 pieces of information that can be known about each user. There are many PC operating systems that we can target and 150 mobile ones. There are more than 30 tablets even if you only heard of 1 or 2 of them.
Given that, how valuable is targeting too tightly in advance of testing? What are we really trying to accomplish – reach a particular target? Or, achieve a particular (and valuable) marketing effect on either branding or performance? That said, over-targeting may put too much focus on the front end of the process and encourage guessing. End result: buyers wanting no-waste in reaching a very specific person --even if there are only 7 of those people and it'd be simpler to call them to let them know you are targeting them for a marketing campaign.
Before locking in on a target, we should consider the opportunity-cost of too narrowly selecting a target …the right audience on exactly the right content…before testing a new campaign on a new site. Below are 4 things to consider before putting a specific demo target in the cross-hairs; today we will focus on #1.
1. Grouping strategy
2. Referring traffic
3. Taxonomy
4. Cost of Scaling
Grouping Strategy – This has an impact on both paid search and display; the clearest way to understand grouping strategy is to start by envisioning a Paid Search campaign. On SERPs (search engine results pages) there is a war going on as marketers fight, not so much for the top of the page but for overall brand supremacy.
All brands know that each paid position has a predictable CTR (click through rate). Their bid cost, in general, will be higher for top positions but can be lowered through factors like QS (quality score). So, improving QS is a never-ending practice. Apart from position and cost-per-click for that position, the marketer has to decide which matching strategy to apply to each keyword: Broad Match, Phrase Match or Exact Match. By the way, the more targeted the advertising, the more expensive yet smaller the inventory will be. Marketers test each keyword with each matching strategy at each position to learn which combination converts most efficiently as well as which one scales best. Why not simply always bid for positions # 1-3? inventory_word_boxes
Because the possible inventory usually exceeds the marketer's budget; the game is about maximizing the impact of their budget. It's about optimizing and scaling. It's possible, given the cost imposed on marketers for being in those top positions, that they will not have enough budget to cover all of the desired hours of the day as well as additional keywords. All of their funds were used up in securing the most coveted (and expensive) keywords, which their peers are also competing for. But the trickiest part of the planning is the grouping of Keyword>Matching Strategy>Creative>Landing Page>Conversion (any desired action or engagement). Each part of the grouping strategy has to be constantly tested to ensure optimal optimization. The first part of this chain is hidden here. It's actually what comes before the keyword that provides the insight. What is the intention of a user who searches with that keyword? Can a different intention be inferred from users using that same keyword across various search engines? Should we show a person with a different intention a differently worded ad? Use a different matching strategy? Bring them to a different landing page?


Now, let's consider how grouping impacts display. We think we are simplifying the game by pre-determining the exact content and demo target and now all we have to do is worry about which creative to serve them. But, let's look at the entire group:
The user's Intention > Choice of Creative > Served on a particular device > at that time > With that geo-target > landing page > Conversion path to desired action.
With all of those moving parts, how sure can we be that the correct target is M 34—39; HHI over $150k, interested in finance, etc…with the ad served when the content is relevant (contextual targeting) or irrelevant (BT)? Even if we worked out the perfect grouping strategy recipe on a different site or network, can we be so sure it'd convert that way again on a different platform we are testing? If we guess wrong on the target, we miss learning what is just outside of our bulls-eye. Maybe the next outer ring would convert better? Or have a higher AOV (average order value) or higher LTV (lifetime value)?
Maybe we should spend more time creating the right landing pages and less time guessing the perfect target? Think about that the next time you are tempted to over-target when testing a new campaign or a new site or network.
Next time, we will look at #2 – how Referring Traffic data may be more important than over-targeting.


About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.


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Topics: media buying, media planning, media, digital media training, consumer behavior, digital marketing terms, targeting to death, marketing, digital marketing, marketing strategy, over-targeting, buying, targeting, site metrics