At the end of the year, youíre scrambling to capture any
dollars leftover in customersí ad budgets and seal the deal on 2014. But no
matter how badly you feel the pressure, here are three things you should never
By Scott Oser
As association publishers, we all know you cannot generate
advertising revenue if you are unable to close the deal. It is sometimes
important to be creative when closing deals, but there are definitely some things
that you should never do.
1. Don't undervalue your ad space. You give your advertisers access
to an audience they cannot reach elsewhere. This access has a value, and you
have presumably set your prices based on this value. Once you start offering
deep discounts and excessive value-added opportunities, you begin to devalue
your audience, in effect telling advertisers and prospective advertisers that
your audience is not really as valuable as you make it out to be. You also tell
advertisers that your prices are not firm and that every time they want to
place an ad, they should negotiate with you.
There is definitely a time and place to negotiate prices and introduce added
value. However, if you want to maintain pricing integrity, these practices need
to be the exception to the norm ó not the norm.
2. Donít be overaggressive. You probably know at least one or
two rather aggressive sales people. These are the individuals at networking
events that no one wants to talk to because all they try to do is sell. I was
actually at an event recently when a sales person came up to me when I was
talking with a couple of colleagues. He politely introduced himself and asked
who we worked with and what we did. The people I was talking with were
association staff members, so they told him who they worked for and what they
did. Neither of them was really who he needed to sell to, so he literally said
that his target was CFOs and COOs and wondered if their CFO or COO was at the
event. This is a perfect example of the type of salesperson no one should be.
Now that a lot of communication and sales does not happen face to face, we must
also avoid being overly aggressive with phone calls and emails. It is easy to
pick up the phone or shoot out an email, so it is tempting for a sales person to
do this on a regular basis. There are times when I am waiting to hear back from
someone who has expressed interest in purchasing an ad, and their last email
communication stares at me from my inbox. It is so tempting to email them on a
daily basis to ask them if they have made a decision, but I know this hurts the
sales process and doesnít help them make up their mind any faster.
I use a sales approach that is aggressive but respectful.
That means you are definitely going to do what you need to do to get a prospectís
attention, but you cannot cross that line where you are in their face too much or
not listening to how much they want to be contacted. You want prospects to
respect you while also allowing you to have a successful sales effort.
3. Donít sell just to sell. Our job as salespeople is to sell. I
know that, you know that, and your supervisor knows that. Selling and selling
smart are two very different things. You can sell an ad to anyone who expresses
interest, whether their products or services are truly a good fit for your
audience or not. If you know that a product or service is probably not a great
fit for your audience, you can still tweak your pitch in a way that it will
make the prospective advertiser think it is a good decision for them. This type
of sale will bring in some immediate revenue, but the advertiser will not get
much value out of their ad spend, so the likelihood of their advertising again
is very low. This type of sale may also negatively impact your credibility and
their perception of the magazine and the association. If this happens too many
times, your short-term gains will turn into long-term challenges.
It is better to be honest with prospective and current
advertisers, and tell them who your audience is and how reaching that audience
will benefit them. As sales people, we want long-lasting relationships with
advertisers that are built on trust. If we arenít honest that trust cannot be
built, and we end up working hard to convince current advertisers to come back
and prospective advertisers to give us a chance.
Having long-term relationships, almost partnerships, with
your advertisers is a goal that every sales person should strive for. Long-term
relationships have a high ROI with regard to revenue and required effort. If
you strive to avoid doing the three things listed above, you will be on the
right path to developing an ad sales process that is effective, respectful, and
trustworthy. This will make advertisers want to work with you as opposed to
heading the other direction when they see you coming.
Scott Oser is president of Scott Oser