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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

4 Ways to Increase Your Sales Forecasting Accuracy

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 8, 2015 11:11:00 AM

Sales forecasting is about taking the necessary actions and implementing proper sales techniques to understand, predict, and forecast promising sales. After working with thousands of salespeople and sales managers, we’ve reached a definitive conclusion about most of the sales forecasts salespeople submit…they’re inaccurate and unreliable.

What can you do to increase the reliability and accuracy of sales forecasts?

Forecasting works best when you’re not guessing, but only when you actually consider real prospects, when you apply a 50 percent correction factor, and when you take the time to remove old prospects.

Businessman forecasting with crystal ball1. Stop Guessing

The first thing you need to do is stop guessing!

Start off your next meeting by identifying the customer’s buying timetable. For instance, ask a question like: “Mr./Ms. Prospect, I’m just curious. If you and I end up working together, when do you envision us delivering our service/product?

The response they give you will help you identify the pace at which you should proceed through the sales process. By understanding the timetable for delivery early in the sales process, you’ll be able to more accurately account for what’s going to come in when you say it’s going to come in.

The timing has to be known, it’s not something that should be guessed at.

2. Only Consider Real Prospects

Many times, prospects will say something that makes them seem like they’re really interested. They might have even started the sales process originally months ago by calling you or going to your website and asking for more information.

But regardless, if at some point the sale is not moving forward, you should start to take those prospects out. You don’t want to include those prospects or the potential dollar amount in the forecast because you can’t confidently say the sale will actually happen.

It might eventually happen, but as a sales gets older it gets more difficult to figure out when it would actually close. Therefore it shouldn’t be included in your forecast.

If you start to consider only real prospects that are galloping ahead and not stagnant, then you’ll be more capable of accurately forecast your sales.

3. Apply a 50% Correction Factor

If you took your entire pipeline of everything that you thought was going to come in, say within the next quarter, and you identified the next sale that was likely to happen, consider what the contract amount would be.

Whatever that number is, take no more than 50 percent of it into consideration. That’s not to say that only half of your prospects will close, but you need to understand there are different sized opportunities.

If you take this approach, your forecast is never greater than 50 cents on the dollar, which makes most sales forecasts already a lot more accurate. Over time, if you see evidence that your number comes in at less than that, you want to change the correction factor, but 50 percent is a good starting point.

4. Remove Old Prospects

The longer a sale goes beyond its normal sale cycle, the less likely it is to happen. As sales begin to get old, they become less likely to happen.

You should begin removing those from your pipeline. It is equally important to start removing those prospects mentally. This means you need to start prospecting for new opportunities.

If you think you’ve got more in the pipeline than you really do, you’ll tend not to prospect enough and the end result will be that you did not bring in enough sales to cover your forecast.

Remember to practice these four tips for a more accurate sales forecast: stop guessing, only consider real prospects, apply a 50% correction factor, and remember to remove old prospects.

5 Simple Prospecting Tips to Increase Your Sales

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Topics: sales, selling, sales process, prospecting, business, improving, strategy, closing

4 Effective Ways to Onboard New Sellers

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 13, 2015 9:03:00 AM

Let’s start by admitting the enormity of the challenge - onboarding and getting sellers up to speed is a huge task. They’re different than previous sellers, the market might be different, and their job might also be different. To reach their goals and those set for them, new sellers have to learn a new way of succeeding in a new environment.

They need practice, motivation, and team-building to help them, which boils down to training. Without training how can we expect them to meet and surpass our expectations?

Here are 4 activities that every manager should do weekly to begin the training process:

1. Practice qualifying questions


Most sellers are not asking enough questions to properly understand the customer’s goals and might not even fully know what they’re listening for. They need to ask questions in order to learn their customer’s business and identify the right fit.

So which questions uncover the right information?

Try playing “The Press Conference” game. Begin by bringing in a member of the staff who has been with the company for a long time and can authentically and intelligently play the part of the client. The new sellers then get to pepper “the client” with 20 questions. When done, the individual playing the client should reveal their real goals, issues, business problems, and opportunities.

Most sellers will be surprised by how little their first 20 questions penetrated the customer’s world. They will also learn to listen, rather than simply rely on the same “tried and true” all-purpose questions for each sales meeting and gain more insight into your company’s specific clients.

2. Role-play

Role-playing most closely resembles real life and serves as an important rehearsal for actual upcoming meetings where a lot may be riding on each moment.

Selling is performance art.  Do you really want your sellers performing unrehearsed? How do you know what they may do in the field if you don’t even watch rehearsals?

The benefits extend beyond the person playing the seller. Observers can learn even more by analyzing the performance. The most experienced sellers can share their insights and the new hires will quickly learn to be prepared for the sales challenges presented in role plays, which will extend over into their actual sales conversations. 

3. Create They say – I say exercises

Challenge your sellers to write down their most challenging objections and then draft their best turnarounds. New hires can refer to this and experienced sellers can keep refining this document.

Sellers will begin to see their world as a series of easily-answered questions and objections that can be quickly turned around. In a sense, their sales conversations will begin to slow down and they’ll anticipate what is going to happen, as well as, recognize different variations of the same objections and questions. 

4. Storytelling

Sellers need to have a story for every situation. By being armed with success stories that can add color to their sales presentations, they’ll be much better prepared to satisfy their prospects.

Elaborate case studies aren’t always required, but each seller on your team needs to at least have the talking point version of a success story that can help answer these common and challenging customer questions:

  • What is the advantage of working with your company?
  • What are the differences between your company and your competitors?
  • What makes your company worth the money?
  • What is the ROI of working together?

Setting aside time each week for your sellers to share their stories with each other will help your entire team be better prepared.

Establishing these training exercises early on will not only help to quickly onboard your new hires, but will also increase the entire team’s success. Creating an effective sales team requires consistent training and coaching to develop confidence and greater selling competence.

Figure out what's missing. Schedule your FREE sales training consultation

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Topics: selling, sales training

Sellers, What Are You Missing? - Questions to Help Forecast Your Sales

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Jul 23, 2015 9:12:00 AM

As a salesperson, you know the importance of gaining information, but ironically big opportunities are often missed by only focusing on the questions. Sales success is accelerated when you go beyond hearing the answers to your questions and listen to what’s missing and what’s not being said.   

When you’re in a sales meeting and the customer is telling you the story of their company and their needs, you shouldn’t merely listen…you need to evaluate.

Ask yourself why they have chosen to begin describing their world in that way.

Why have they decided to include certain details while being vague about others? What impression are they trying to give me? What reaction are they looking for?

How many times have they told someone else that same thing or is this the first time they’re saying it? How much did they think about what they are telling me before this meeting began?  

Your mind shouldn’t be wandering, but you need to be actively analyzing how hard or easy this sale might be. What are the fewest number of steps needed to close the sale?

In order to reduce the number of steps it takes to close the deal, you need to learn what may have blocked a sale from progressing in the past. Have you identified all of the things that could get in the way of this opportunity? Or is it really smooth sailing?

missing-puzzle-piecesThis analysis of risk and reward must be done all the while remembering that sales meetings never happen in a vacuum. Think of the sales meeting as a blip on the timeline - what happened before it that we missed?

If the potential client does have a new problem that needs a solution, what changed causing this new priority? When did it happen? What has happened in the lives of the individual buyers before they came to this company or in their prior role that may impact a decision they would make with me?  

Learning past buying behaviors will make a big difference in your sales cycle. So, don’t miss a chance to ask these underlying questions in order to truly understand the company and the individual buyer you will be working with.

  • Have you ever bought a service/product/solution like the one I sell? How/why did you select that vendor, package of services/budget? Why did they do it when they did it?
  • Have you personally been involved in this kind of decision before?
  • [If the meeting is due to your prospecting] What were you going to do if I hadn’t called?  Why didn’t you call us?
  • [If they called you and requested information, perhaps from a referral] What were you discussing with that other person that led to our company getting recommended?
  • Why didn’t you already buy a solution and/or use your own internal resources?
  • How is this year different from last year?  What do you expect to change next year?

If you’re getting information that essentially answers these questions then you’ll be much better equipped to forecast the sale and not base it solely on gut feelings or guesses. When you learn what’s missing, you miss fewer sales.

Competitive Selling

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Topics: selling, sales tips, prospect management

Who Creates More Value: A Salesperson or A Broker?

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Mar 25, 2014 2:00:00 PM


By Buff Parham

Parham & Associates, LLC


It's a distinction with a difference that needs your attention.ROI_return_on_investment

Our previous columns here have focused on various aspects of creating, refining and transmitting value to our current and potential customers. Those of us who are perceived as salespersons have a huge advantage over those of us who are perceived as merely brokers. We ignore that distinction at our own peril. Why?

Information technology is wiping out brokers with increasing speed.

This is especially true in the brokerage of commodities, and many personal services. If a given commodity and/or service can be boiled down to "just numbers", then computerization inevitably enters the process. Overnight, two or three armed with significant computing power might replace a dozen human brokers. It wasn't that long ago that you had to call a stockbroker to get the current quote for a stock or make a trade--and then technology showed up…in a big way!

A new Oxford University study estimates that as many as 60% of all current jobs could be eliminated by automation!

If the study's conclusion is off by half, that's still 30%--bottom line, technology isn't slowing down and there are very few jobs that won't be affected in some significant way. For those of us in sales, it's time to take an honest (and sometimes difficult) look at our own prospects. That's a huge first step towards insuring not just continued employment, but a productive and satisfying career.

Looking at your own position, how much time do you spend conveying information compared to creating value?

And let's not get those two functions mixed up. Providing your customers with basic information about your product/service is not value creation. Helping them to solve their business problems is value creation. Many auto salespeople have transformed themselves out of necessity, as almost every customer now walks into a dealership well informed about the make and model they have in mind. An auto salesperson must recognize and respect this "educated customer" and close the deal based on benefits that go way beyond what's on the Internet. They probe and then solve any of the customer's problems that may prevent purchase of the vehicle!

Often, you can create value for your customers by empowering them with full access to information about your products/services.

Some might call this "losing control" of the sale. Maybe not. There once was a well-known men's store that used the slogan "an educated consumer is our best customer". Why? Because it means that customer is already engaged in what you have to sell--if they weren't, they wouldn't have bothered to learn more about it! If that were true (which it is), then why would we withhold any pertinent information that will move the customer closer to a sale?

Making enough initial compelling information available to your customers will enable you to share "the rest of the story."

If you do this, you will eliminate the dreaded "cold call." Providing introductory material in advance of any first contact is the way to go. This means that your company's B2B website needs to function well, along with any printed collateral materials. It's much easier to sell to a customer who already knows a fair amount of what you're selling as opposed to someone who just doesn't. It also takes us out of the "information provider" mode and sets us up to be problem solvers and/or solution providers.

It takes more than reciting facts to make a sale.

We should know our facts cold, but we should never forget that how we make those facts compelling and relevant to our customers is the very essence of creating value!


Download a Free eBook on Digital Marketing and Sales

About the Author:
Digital Media Training is excited to announce the addition of Buff Parham, a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales. Buff will be contributing a new blog article to Digital Media Training once per month about various sales and sale management topics. Stay tuned!

Connect with Buff via LinkedIn
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com

Follow @BuffParham

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Topics: customers, sales, selling, creating value, salespeople

Selling In A Competitive Media Landscape

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Feb 7, 2014 12:30:00 PM

If selling is a competitive sport then selling digital media has become the NFL of sales.
There are four functions that all sellers have to do well to be successful, but digital sellers have to be the extreme athletes of media sellers:punch_impact_box

1.) Finding the right person - and learning the right stuff in advance.

2.) Getting in front of them - and opening the meeting right.

3.) Asking them the right questions - the right way.

4.) Suggesting the right solution - in the right way.

Digital media sellers have to do that while outperforming the other talented sellers who are playing the same game and trying to reach that same person with an even more compelling-sounding message. Like rugby players fighting for the ball, you are all going after the same pile of money. Who wins? The one with the best scale and capabilities? Surprisingly, no (well, not always). It’s not the scale, necessarily but it is the fit. How well can you match your offering to the advertiser’s goals? That’s the play and it’s the same one all the other teams are using. As in the NFL where all the teams use similar plays, the winning team is the one who executes their game the best when all the pressure is on.

In the digital sales world, the sale often goes through the busy agency buyer - who sees a parade of sellers who all claim to be the best at…(choose one) reaching the right person; engaging with the most desirable audience; scaling the most targeted campaign and achieving results which outperform benchmarks, etc... You may have 10 minutes every few months to communicate a memorable message that will convince the buyer to include you on their budget—or give you a bigger share than last quarter. Which seller can perform their sales meeting the best?

How do you get on the All Pro Team? How do you keep your message resonating in the buyer’s mind? There are four things Hall of Fame sellers do:

1. Learn the right stuff

In advance of the meeting – do the right research to learn what you need to know about an advertiser. This will take equal parts Sherlock Holmes, MacGyver and Jack Ryan. But if you take a thorough look at all of their digital assets, engagement points, conversions and lead recapture strategies you will often find an opportunity. You need to learn about the advertiser’s target customer, their digital marketing-monetization strategy, their competitor’s digital marketing efforts… and then find an opportunity to sell them something.

Find the research tools you need to prepare yourself to sound contagiously enthusiastic. To do this right, make sure your research includes:

a. Who is the advertiser targeting? How else can you help them reach the right audience? How does your audience compare?

b. What are all the digital assets the advertiser directs traffic to? How visible are those assets on social media and search engine results pages? (Look into which keywords they are visible against). And while you are at it, find a relevant past success story that you can share.

c. What are all the conversions, partial conversions and engagement opportunities across all of their digital assets? Have you helped an advertiser with similar goals?

d. What are this advertiser’s competitors doing to target (retarget), reach, engage, and influence their audience?

Figure out why, from their perspective, it would make sense for them to buy from you.


2. Open right

You should be going into each meeting with a compelling business reason. You may think of first meetings as social visits/fishing expeditions—and to be clear, you ideally should be identifying new addressable future opportunities every time you meet with anyone. However, you can’t sound like that. The sound of your meeting should be as if there is a reason you are there today. Two weeks ago, you woke up and shot out of bed absolutely driven to help this advertiser. A giant lightning bolt of revelation startled you awake compelling you to find a way to help the advertiser—a way that no one has ever thought of before. You have been driven by this compelling challenge like an English Channel swimmer who trains for 18 months for a 12 hour swim. You marshaled your internal team of experts and are now ready to showcase the results of what you and your team have been working on tirelessly without break. All to help this particular advertiser! That’s the kind of caring professional you are.

After learning through your research, analysis and dedication who the advertiser is targeting and how they leverage their digital assets into campaigns you have deduced their digital strategy. The reason you came in to the meeting today is to share your ideas. Your agenda is to complement their current approach, learn what is changing and see if the agency agrees that you are onto a great idea. Your enthusiasm is contagious---both your confident enthusiasm and your unenthusiastic support of your own idea. Even if you don’t sound sure, why should anyone else be sure? On the other hand, if you sound like you have made the pursuit of the perfect solution for this advertiser a personal mission, who can resist listening to you?


3. Ask right (Ask the right questions, the right way)

Like a press conference, prepare and ask the right questions. But unlike a press conference, consider how best to work in your questions into a conversation. It’s not just what you ask but how you ask and how you interpret their answers. How well can you engage a hard to engage person? That’s the game.

Most non-NFL sellers ask questions like the way a bad dermatologist examines a patient – from across the room they try to guess what is making the patient scratch themselves. You have to get under the skin. Every advertiser thinks they are different. They believe they have unique challenges and goals. How can a salesperson sound like they learned those differences after asking 2 or 3 questions over a 5 minute meeting with a total stranger? Picture a first date – how much do you really learn about the other person? Compare that to what the person will tell you after you are dating for a year? Married for 20 years?

Consider the questions you ask. Does the buyer respond with “….hmmm, that’s a good question?” or “wow, I never really thought about it that way” or “that’s an important question and a surprising number of sellers fail to ask that (or words to that effect).” Consider the answers you get – are they really opening up and telling you something that reveals their true buying motivations? Or, are they giving the kind of rote answers you get from most 1-800 number help desk people? Did you learn something that your competitors didn’t learn? If yes, you may be going to the Super Bowl.


4. Suggesting the right solution in the right way

Most sellers are like waves on a beach: they are going to crash through the walls of each uniquely constructed sand castle with the same overwhelming wave. What does each sand castle really want? Water that doesn’t destroy the walls but finds the canals and tunnels which bring life rather than destruction to the little pretend village. What does each buyer want? Same thing. Meanwhile, most sellers I meet sound like hammer salespeople who view every unique problem as the same nail which can be solved with the same “hammer solution.”

Tailor your solution story to both the right person and the right problem: the advertiser’s/agency’s specific goals. Make sure you are using vivid examples of how to leverage your media –targeting offerings to that buyer’s goals. Begin your solution story by referring to another advertiser, with the same challenges. Make sure you include the details about the urgency of solving this problem and how well your solution really worked—from an ROI point-of-view.

Your goal is to elicit the same response a happy kid has on Christmas Day: “Wow, how did you know I really wanted that toy?” With the same enthusiasm as the winning NFL quarterback tells us about looking forward to getting to Disney World after winning the Super Bowl.


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.



IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Prep
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Topics: selling, sales training, selling digital media, digital media sales, competitive selling

How to Avoid Losing A Sale

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Nov 21, 2013 6:30:00 PM

Today, we will look at the importance of painting a picture for the client. Failure to provide a very concise picture of how the solution you provide solves his or her problem could make or break the sale.


Let’s take a look at a typical sales process. In the first meeting (in-person, on the phone, by email or combination of all 3), the seller learns about the customer’s needs and shares the details of his own offering. Customers generally ask “How much?” and we respond by sending them a proposal. A proposal usually looks more like a legal document than a persuasive essay. Giving someone a proposal does not obligate them to decide and often does not convince an on-the-fence customer to decide right away in the seller’s favor. What’s missing?

The story. The biggest proof that your products and services really work is that others are buying them. Sellers need a story version of the explanation on why similar customers have bought from them. The best stories are data-backed and include the details of how urgently another customer was looking for a solution and how happy they are now. That story works best if the seller can provide a “drill-down” of details such as:

  • The customer’s real goals – What was the seller’s approach to due diligence to learn their customer’s real goal? 

  • What research data and other pre-meeting preparation did the seller conduct that not only helped them close the deal but helped the customers better understand their challenges and their options?

  • What did the seller learn that resulted in the development of novel, original solutions?

  • How did the seller and customer work together to define benchmarks and KPIs and multiple paths to success?

  • How did the seller become a trusted partner throughout this experience?

Most sellers need about 10-12 of those stories:

  • why a very big customer bought

  • why a small company bought

  • why a company that was already buying from the competition bought

  • why a company that had previously never bought from anyone and only solved their problems with in-house resources finally bought and continues to buy today

  • why a company with a very similar challenge - and particularly a contact within that firm who is a counterpart to the your prospect - bought

Sellers can make their stories more engaging and impactful by personalizing them. Show the prospect that you/your team have personal experience and measurable success working with clients with similar urgency…who shared the same challenges and frustrations in looking for a viable and affordable solution. Your story should build credibility.

This is particularly important since the number one reason customers don’t buy is lack of reassurance. Sellers can enhance their story with details of how their own company was born out of a desire to solve these problems. Specifically, the story should include details of how your contact’s counterparts – that is, people in similar roles with similar responsibilities at your other clients, have felt before and after they bought from you. The better the story demonstrates empathy with the prospect, the better the customers begin to visualize how this seller and his/her offering may really be what they’ve been searching for.

Also, if your contact has to tell others – and win them over – you must teach your contact the story so that they have a way to effectively communicate your story to the influencers that the seller never personally meets.



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Topics: selling, selling tips, how to avoid losing a sale, client testimonials

What Common Mistakes Do Media Sellers Make?

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Oct 11, 2013 10:50:00 AM

Every media seller I meet needs to increase their digital-only and/or multiplatform campaigns that include digital in 2013/2014. To do that, you either need to hope that everyone’s share of the market gets bigger all at the same time… or you need to grow your share by overcoming your competitor’s efforts.digital_handshake

So, while we are all crossing our fingers, let’s focus on not making these 4 common mistakes:

1. Not prospecting enough

Most sellers simply don’t prospect enough. If you are always prospecting, to friends, enemies and strangers over time you will develop lead flow. Do you have leads calling in every day? The proof of prospecting productivity is how often your phone rings, how many RFPs come to you and what portion of these “inbound leads” you close. If you get leads and RFPs that don’t close you may be either prospecting to the wrong people or you are communicating the wrong offering to them. Media Radar reports that 10% of marketing people are changing jobs every 90 days…so, if you are not prospecting enough, you will miss the chance to get an intro before they leave. Or you will think the old person is still in that job even after they left. Obviously, staying connected on LinkedIn helps you know where people are, but the only way to develop and maintain a great relationship with them is to prospect to them. The mistake most sellers make is to reduce any prospecting activity to the, relatively speaking, small circle of people they know. You may already be getting all the business you can from them, but we must keep in mind they also represent up-side potential.

2. Not going to all levels of the brand and agency

Everyone likes to make fun of the 23 year old media buyer (except me, I love you guys---you rock!) but how many people have learned that these people are just doing their job and doing it as well as they can; we don’t really understand the pressure they are under or the limitations they are working under that may prevent them from even considering your media. Therefore what is the right move? Try to improve your relationship with them. Offer to help them which may cause them to pay more attention to your media. Meanwhile, you should be reaching out to the Planning team, Strategy team, Creative team and even consider the Account team. Everyone is looking for a new idea and yours may just fit in with one of team’s plans. If they don’t put you on the plan, don’t be surprised if they end up not buying from you. Apart from the agency, (and with the proper sensitivity to everyone’s instinct to protect themselves), you should also find every opportunity to speak to people on the brand side, CMO down. No one person has the job of buying from you and your advocates may change with each campaign and marketing goal. You never know which new person in your life is the key to closing the next deal.

3. Not preparing for meetings

Digital meetings often turn on one fact, one component, one answer, one idea well presented. Failure to know a simple answer such as the percentage of your audience outside the US can lead to your least favorite line “I don’t know” and their meeting-ender closer “well, why don’t we regroup when you know.” Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t fail to learn the data points that your argument for more money rests on. Make sure you can tell your success stories in a reassuring enough way that they put you on the plan or increase your share. And for goodness sake, you need to be able to deliver a killer answer to: “What makes you different? What makes you better? Why are you worth the money?”

4. Not being familiar with all of your research offerings

I have personally met with dozens of internal research experts who are their company’s central point for syndicated research. They tell me that they are available to answer everyone’s questions. I then meet with the sellers who work in those companies and invariably don’t know what that guy in research does, what research is available or under what conditions you would use each one. Why is this? This is because many sellers need research “just in time” like when they are putting their proposals together at the last minute. For them, they need to know what is available as well as all the tools that are free so that when they need them they can put their hands on the kind of data needed to build a killer presentation. A little planning might help, too.


Have you made any of these common mistakes? Do you have any others to add? Share your comments in the box below.

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Topics: sales, selling, selling digital media, sales manager, media salesperson, common sales mistakes

How To Present a Proposal Over the Phone (Part 2)

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Jun 4, 2013 7:30:00 AM

3. How are you going to open up the meeting? sales_meeting_present_business Now, there’s no one right way to open every meeting.  But you should think about it.  You need to make a decision.  But I’ll tell you what works for me.  In the friendliest way possible, early on in every proposal meeting, I say something along the lines of,You know, thank you Mr. Prospect or Ms. Prospect for meeting with me today.  I’m hoping that we’ll be able to put together a deal.  And if we do, do you think my services would be implemented right away?”  That question will give you an answer to something that you’re eager to know, and it will be extremely helpful. You might be hesitant in asking this question or asking it in this manner. No worries! Translate it into a way that you can ask it.  Or if that’s not the right question for you, find the right question for yourself.  But keep asking yourself, “Is this always the best way to go?” and adjust the opening with each meeting. Customize the solution for your prospect.

fotolia_612132024. Defend why your proposal is right.  Many times, I listen to salespeople on the phone, and I can hear them explain the pricing. But they don’t say what I really want them to say from the prospect’s perspective, which is a very reassuring message. 

Hello Prospect, you know, after we spoke, I went back and looked at my notes.  I talked to my staff.  I went to our service team.  I did a little research and a little brainstorming.  And as a team, we came up with a plan that I think you’re really going to like.  It really addresses the issues that you’ve pointed out and that you’ve told me about. I know these were important to you.  Anyway, that’s how we created this proposal.”  Now maybe that’s not exactly the way you would say it.  But something along those lines would be reassuring.  After all, people react and reciprocate.  If you act with enthusiasm, the prospect is more likely going to be enthusiastic also.  If you act like you don’t care, then why should your prospect?

Let’s always remind ourselves of these four things we should do when we’re presenting a proposal over the phone: 


1. We’re verifying information. 

Involve the customer in developing your solution. Show someone your sale in writing before the proposal meeting whenever possible. Showing an outline of the proposal in advance gives you a chance to react and adjust.


2. We’re strategizing how far in advance to send the proposal. 

There is no one magical time in which all proposals that are sent over are magically approved.  Decide whether or not the proposal is powerful enough to speak for itself or make sure that you set aside the time to go through it with the prospect.


3. We’re deciding how we will open. 

Tailor a friendly opening and be prepared to ask what you need to ask to find out what you must.


4. And we’re preparing ourselves to defend why our proposal is right.

Are you giving your prospect reassurance? Have you completed thorough research, and are you prepared to give evidence to your claim?



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: present, selling, sellers, sales process, dealing with a customer, sales tips, sales training, call, sales strategy, presentation

How To Present A Proposal Over the Phone

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Jun 3, 2013 10:52:00 AM


Today I want talk to you about presenting your proposal when you’re selling over the phone.  There are four: 

1. Verifying information. things to consider:

2. Strategizing how far in advance to send the proposal. 

3. Deciding how you will open. 

4. Preparing to defend why your proposal is right. 


1.  Let’s start with verifying information. 

What’s a proposal?  You write something on a digital piece of paper.  If you wrote “the right thing,” the customer will buy and if you didn’t, the customer won’t buy.  And so, there’s a lot riding on your writing the right thing.  So make sure you’re incorporating the customer in that process.  If your customer is not in some way involved in advising you as to what the right budget level is, the offer, and the timing of the delivery as well as any other specs that are important to know, then you’re guessing.  And the customer is less likely to buy. 

You don’t want to guess-sell.  You want to know for sure.  There’s a lot riding on this.  And by verifying information first, you could dramatically improve your proposal-to-closing ratio.  How do you start? Show an outline, one or two pages that explain, “Here’s what I’m thinking of pricing, selling, and delivering and all those specs” in advance of any proposal meeting.  By doing so, you are giving yourself a chance to obtain a reaction and adjust the proposal if need be.  Also, it’s important to show somebody your sale in writing before the proposal, whenever possible.  If the first time that the customer sees your sale in writing is the proposal, it tends not to reflect as well on you than if you had showed some kind of "friendlier" of document beforehand. 

2. Consider is how far in advance of the meeting to send the proposal. 

I would say that there are times that it makes sense not to let your client see the proposal until you’re going to review  it together.  This is because many times proposals are written in such a way that a customer can get concerned, confused, or thrown off.  Or the document is so big that the customer scans it very briefly and misses everything.  And so by going through it with the customer, we’re sure that we’re capturing every point.  If you send the proposal far in advance, they may have a chance to read it.  And there may be some benefit to that.  And so my advice to you is if you’re going to send it in advance, it should be a decision that you made (in your mind, you felt that the proposal could sell itself). However, if you don’t believe that the proposal itself is extremely well-written and a powerful communicator, my advice to you is this:

Go over the points in your proposal together with your client so that there’s a very small gap there.



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: selling, sellers, customer's perspective, dealing with a customer, sales tips, sales training, call, sales strategy, buying process, deals, presentation, reaction