Newsletter No 26 18 April 2006
Advertising & Marketing:
Learning to Sell (3). The Buying and Selling Process

The third topic of the WAN-Sudan Advertising Sales Training Program for Newspapers Executives focused on the buying and selling process, including concrete tips on how to open a sales meeting, listening to your clients needs and the importance of ensuring that your client is making an informed buying decision.

You’ve made appointment with a client and are sitting in front of them. Before this appointment, you’ve done research about the client where you have tried to determine what their advertising needs are – who they want to reach and what they want to say. You will have looked at your reader research to see how your newspaper can meet those needs. You will have made notes for yourself of the benefits that you can see from the reader research will benefit the client. (See newsletters No 24 and 25)

When you speak to a new potential client you can be sure he/she is not interested in:
Your newspaper
Your market share and volumes
Your readership figures

You can be sure he/she is interested in:
His/her company
His/her products and staffing
Their competitors’ activities
Their own market share
Developing and growing their business

Opening a sales meeting
What is this person thinking? He’s thinking: What’s in this for me? They are not interested in you, they are skeptical and worried that you are wasting their time. Until, that is, you say something interesting about their business. When you did your preliminary research about their business, (visits, internet search) you uncovered a few facts so that you could open the visit with an interesting statement.

Immediately, the person you are selling to will sit up and listen. And they will think, what an interesting professional person this is.

You still need to get more information. So you open with a statement about what their company is doing that relates to their marketing. And then, you’re going to find more about their needs. So you question them.

If you visit someone in the hotel industry: Open with a statement about the number of tourists coming into the country. Have some hard facts about this – statistics or recent reports that you have researched in advance. Or you visit an IT company. You may have read in the newspaper that this company is preparing to market a new product, so mention this and say to them: “I’m interested to know what your marketing strategy is around this.”

Then you ask more leading questions – present it as a statement but it is actually a question. You can at that point have your diary or notebook open and can make notes. Start by saying “I’m very interested in... can you tell me more.” Start with an open-ended question!

Listening to your client’s needs
The focus of your questioning should now be to uncover needs and wants that can be satisfied through your newspaper and its readers. The questioning will help you identify what features of your newspaper and the readers will be of interest to the client’s company.

To do this you need to:
1. Listen  
2. Summarize what was said
3. Clarify where necessary

Now if you have gained his/her interest, you can progress to the presentation to create the desire to advertise. Remember that the most important question in the client’s mind is, “What’s in it for me?”

For every need that you have uncovered, try to meet the need with an appropriate benefit and advantage. Match the client’s needs to your newspaper’s readership and highlight the benefits of your newspaper to create a real desire to advertise in your newspaper. You need to mine your reader research to match your benefits to the client’s needs. Right at the beginning they are not interested in knowing about your circulation or audience. They are interested in their own business. Its only when you’ve got their attention by asking questions about their marketing needs, that you can start talking about how you can meet those needs

When you are visiting a big company or multinational, bring a senior colleague. If you can, drag an editor along. This gives you a chance to think and take notes when other people are talking. What you are doing when you are writing a script:  you are matching the benefits of your newspaper to what you are hearing the client’s needs are. You can use the client’s interest and passion in their own business to get their attention and to hear how your newspaper can meet their marketing needs.

Take notes and reiterate what the client has said to you. Get them to agree that this is what they have said. At this point you can present how your newspaper can benefit them. Only at this point should you start talking facts and figures about your newspaper.

Clarify again with questions beginning with

“So, as I see it…”
“As I understand it…”
“ So, what you are saying is…”

Then comes the link between their interest in their own business and their own needs, your newspaper and how it can satisfy his needs: “So, if I can show you a way of reaching your ideal candidate/market…”

Remember, it is the benefits of your newspaper you are selling. You are not selling at cost. Don’t ever mention a discount! If you mention a discount, you are selling a discount. You are not selling your newspaper and you will get one sale. You want this client to think that this is the best medium to reach their target audience. At that point, you will be watching the client, you will see from their facial expression, their comments, body language, if they are ready to close this deal.

If you can see that they are ready to close, you will close the deal.

An informed buying decision
If you want to build up a long-term relationship with this client and get more and more advertising from them, you want them to have made an informed buying decision. If you go in and do a hard sale, they might sign on the dotted line, but once you’ve walked out that door, they might feel like they’ve been pushed into the decision. The client must feel like this was his or her decision. That is was the right decision. And they will feel that if you’ve given them the right information about the benefits of their advertising with you.

Next newsletter: Closing the Deal