The second topic of the WAN-Sudan Advertising Sales Training Program for Newspapers executives was the importance of developing a relationship with your client and how to find the person with the authority to buy. The World Association of Newspapers organized the two-week course last month. Marilyn Honikman, former marketing and sales director for The Weekly Mail (today the Mail and Guardian), in South Africa and current marketing manager of Big News for the Business Owner, led the training.
Building Trust Between You and Your Client
Remember that when newspapers sell advertising what they are selling is access to the readers. Newspapers are bringing the reader together with the advertiser. For them to be able to do this, they need to build up trust with their clients. Lets use the analogy of an arranged marriage. When a bride is first introduced to prospective husband, they’re not going to be at all sure. There will be skepticism. And if he comes to visit a few times, the prospective bride might be more relaxed about him, more interested to hear about him. It takes time and numerous visits for trust to build.
You’re going to be asking people to spend a lot of money in your newspaper. You need to build up a relationship and trust to do this. If you are convinced that this client’s adverts will work in your newspaper (the fit is good) you carry on visiting. You will have done preparation, some research about their needs and you will have done some reader research. You will have prepared a “sales case”: you match up what they would need and how that matches up to your newspaper.
Lets look at the statistics on benefits of building up this relationship.
Frequent calls gets results
Below are the results from a study published by the consulting firm Knowledge Brokers International on the correlation between sales closed and the number of calls made to a client:
Out of 100 sales made, this is the correlation to the number of calls made to a client.
1st call – Sales closed 2 (2 percent)
2nd call – Sales closed 3 (3 percent)
3rd call – Sales closed 4 (4 percent)
4th call – Sales closed 10 (10 percent)
5th call and more – Sales closed 81 (81 percent)
Here are some other interesting statistics:
You’ve made your visit and they say no.
- 48 percent of you will stop calling.
- 25 percent of you will make two calls, and then stop
- 15 percent will make three phone calls before giving up
- 12 percent are going to get rich.
This 12 percent of sales people are responsible for 80 percent of sales.
You will get rich and your newspaper will get rich because you will Persist.
You need five visits. How are you going to get them?
How to get the foot in the door: You will visit all these times, but you will do it creatively. You walk in there and they say “No”. How are you going to convince them the next time? You will not do it by just hammering away. You will get your mind into top gear with each client. You’ll do homework. You’ll find something interesting or useful to their business. Your client will begin to see a relationship there and not just someone out to get their money.
The person with authority to buy: There is not much use in creating the sales case if the person you are going to see does not have authority to buy. There is no point in doing a presentation and meeting with the ad manager five times and having them say “yes” if the managing director takes one look and says “no”.
This is a common trap to fall into. It has happened to me before. I have been told the person has the authority to buy when in fact they do not.
You need to find your way through the corporate maze of a company to find the person with the authority to buy. Sometimes if you are dealing with a very big corporation, it is useful to have a ‘navigator’. If it is a major oil company and there is a complex management system, who would you phone to find a navigator?
For example, Shell in Sudan. Your navigator could be a public relations person. Is it the brand manager or the marketing manager that has the authority to buy? In some situations, the managing director likes to make the final decision. Therefore if you can find a navigator who can take you through the system this is key.
Find out the dynamics about the whole company and write notes. You have your client list, so make notes.
Your secret weapon: the Managing Director’s secretary: The person I often use as a navigator is the managing director’s secretary. She knows everything that is going on in a company. Because she is a secretary and is usually overlooked, you tell her you need her advice. People love to give advice. Ask her – should I send copies of the newspaper to the managing director? Tell her that you will talk to the ad people, but ask her to show the newspaper to him. Her job is to block you. She is a gatekeeper. It is not easy.
So you’ve found the communications department or the secretary. You have the navigator. Now you need to find the person with the authority to buy.
Often in a corporation there is a group decision:
There is the Navigator (might not be in meeting)
There is the person with the Authority To Buy (ATB)
There is the Champion – if you are lucky, you’ll have someone in the meeting who thinks your proposal is a good idea
There is the Objector – if you are unlucky, there will be someone who doesn’t think it is a good idea
You could also have someone in the corporation with a “veto”. This is called the secret veto and you need to find out where it is coming from. This is very complex selling. This is selling to large corporations or institutions such as a government department.
Most of your selling will be simple selling where you sell to the person who makes the decision. This one (the big one) might take years, but if you ‘crack’ it, it is worth gold.
Next week: The Buying and Selling Process