Selling In A Competitive Media Landscape
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:
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.
About Molly DePasquale
Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales 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.