7 Things The Best Media Salespeople Do Differently

There’s nothing complicated about media sales. To paraphrase author Dan Jenkins (who was writing about baseball), if sales was half as complicated as some trainers try to make it, most of us couldn’t sell.

sales skills are simple

photo by iQoncept/dpc

Sales skills can be taught. But what separates the best and most successful salespeople from the mediocre isn’t skill level — it’s the willingness to put the work in, and practice some very simple steps consistently.

Here’s what the best salespeople do all the time that that the others don’t.

  1. They are constantly looking for new business. Account lists are shaky things. In a good year, 20-25% of your list will turn over no matter what you do. Businesses get bought and sold. They reorganize, downsize, close entirely. The contact you’ve spent years cultivating suddenly takes another job. These factors are completely out of your control.

In a bad year, it can be a whole lot worse than 25%.

The best salespeople read their local newspaper every day, looking for leads. They tune in to commercial radio in their car… listening for new advertisers. They don’t skip the commercials on TV — they watch the commercials on TV. And they follow up on what they find.

  1. They read constantly.Books, magazines, blogs. They read about sales skills, networking, effective advertising techniques, copywriting, technology, business.

During training sessions, I am often asked what books I recommend. I point people to this post on my blog. The links are Amazon affiliate links. I don’t do the affiliate links to make money — the commission is something like 32 cents a book. I do it so that I can see whether anyone takes action.

The best salespeople I work with buy the books….and read them.

[bctt tweet=”Sales skills are easy to learn. Putting the work in every day is hard. Top sellers do the work.”]

  1. They “think like a rookie”— no matter how much experience they have, they’ll try something new. Rookies will try anything — they don’t know any better. The longer we do the same job, the greater our tendency to dismiss a new technique by saying, “That’ll never work.” Top sellers recognize that they don’t know everything. They try things.
  1. They learn from their failures.When I was a new radio seller, someone taught me an exercise to do in the parking lot after every sales call. I’d take my notepad out of my briefcase, turn to a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. I’d label the left column “What Went Right” — even the worst call had something redeeming. The right column was titled “What I’d Do Differently”. There’s something to learn from every call — writing the lessons down right after the meeting helped me retain the lesson long enough to act on it.
  1. They keep their commitments.In the past five years, I have talked to over a thousand advertisers in 31 different states. In every market I’ve visited, clients have told me stories of Account Executives who didn’t return phone calls, or deliver the information they promised, or get the copy produced on time. In fact, this has often worked in our favor — the reason we were let in is because the other guys dropped the ball.

It pains me to say this, but if you promise to call with information on Wednesday and you actually call with the information on Wednesday, you will be the exception.

  1. They present solutions from the client’s point of view.Years ago, a Dale Carnegie Sales Training seminar leader put me through the “Which Means to You” drill. I had to take every claim in a proposal and add the words “…which means to you” to it. If I couldn’t articulate why the client would care about a specific point, the point had to come out. It was infuriating to have the instructor interrupt my presentation over and over again with the words, “WHO CARES?”, but the lesson has stuck with me for a couple of decades.

You’ve got a budget to hit, your manager’s got a quarter to make, and your clients don’t care. You know why you want to sell that package — why would your client want to buy it? The best salespeople develop a deep understanding of their client’s problems and goals. They position their offerings as tools to solve those problems and achieve those goals.

Can your proposals pass the “Which Means to You” test? How about your media kit?

  1. They are careful about who they work with.The late Jeffrey Mayer taught me that sales is a process of disqualifcation. He gave me a three-part formula:
  • No Money = No Sale
  • No Authority = No Sale
  • No Need = No Sale

Make a list of the people you’re calling on. Have you established that they have a need for what you’re selling? Do they have they authority to buy it? Do they have the money to spend what it takes? For a story about how he got me to dump a prospect, click here. 

All of these steps are simple. The sales skills are easy to learn.

Practicing them every day is hard. Really hard. The best salespeople perform the steps and make the real money. Can you?

Will you?

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