The #1 Common Mistake Salespeople Make Blog Feature
Molly D Protosow

By: Molly D Protosow on September 23rd, 2013

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The #1 Common Mistake Salespeople Make

Sales Tips

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


About Molly D Protosow

Molly Protosow is the COO and Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.

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