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Break the Curse of Media Kit Selling - 11/12/2014 -


Break the Curse of Media Kit Selling

The top salespeople in publishing today have learned to lead their prospects by asking great questions and delivering unique and impactful audience first proposals.

By Brett Keirstead

The seismic changes in how a publisher monetizes its assets, coupled with the evolving nature of how media is purchased, are wreaking havoc on association publishing salespeople. So much so that many legacy publishers are reporting sales turnover in the range of 75-80 percent of their salesforce. But, remember, with every change comes opportunity.

The characteristics that separate the successful sales person from the mediocre are rooted in the ability to change and adapt one's strategies and techniques to fit the new dynamic. The very best sales people in the industry today have broken through the aged paradigm of media kit selling. Instead, they operate in a new world where the skill of asking great discovery questions — coupled with the presentation of a publisher's rich audience data — drives greater revenue and higher margin sales.

Media kit selling is the legacy process that has governed media sales for decades. Media kit selling follows a basic outline:

  1. Prospect reviews the available products in the Media Kit.
  2. They ask what ads are available to buy.
  3. They calculate the rates for those ads.
  4. They review the total audience reach.
  5. The sales person asks/answers questions.

This products-ads-rates-audience-questions workflow of media kit selling is endemic in publishing sales, and the paradigm has carried forward even as the sale has moved from print to digital and publishers’ capabilities have exponentially expanded.

Professional strategic selling methodologies that exist in other industries follow a much different flow. Leading disciplines such as The Challenger Sale (Dixon and Adamson) teach a process that is contrary to the old media kit sale:

  1. Do your research prior to any initial sales discussion.
  2. Come prepared to ask great questions.
  3. Educate the buyer on the influence of your audience.
  4. Craft a unique, diversified solution for your client needs.
  5. Deliver a customized integrated proposal.

Of course, great selling requires an educated and willing buyer.It is all too easy to dust off last year's RFP, push it through to an agency, and buy from the media kit. That said, the more strategic buyers amongst your highest-value prospects are the ones that will control the greatest dollars in the future.

So, when the opportunity arises, what are the best-of-the-best association sales reps doing when it comes to breaking the media kit sales model?

  1. They do their research in advance of any meeting to gain preliminary insight as to how their audience might align with a client's objectives.
  2. They craft thoughtful discovery questions aimed to yield insight regarding the client's actual target audience and marketing goals.
  3. They thoroughly understand the high-value profiles that their client expresses particular interest in as well as the ultimate call-to-action they seek.
  4. They provide visual evidence and supporting detail on the level of segmentation and targeting they can provide from their association’s audience data.
  5. They work with internal constituents to analyze available audience data and create a custom solution for the buyer.
  6. They deliver a personalized, high impact, integrated proposal that highlights the client goals and the ability to meet them.

Brett Keirstead is vice president, sales, at Knowledge Marketing. He invites Sidebar readers to download the free whitepaper, The Definitive Guide to Buying and Selling a Publisher’s Audience.


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