selling advertising in association media products, price is only an issue when
it is presented as the primary benefit.
times have you heard: "The advertiser only cares about the price?” Most associations
will say they hear it all the time. However, price is only an issue when it is
presented as the only benefit (or primary benefit). Regardless of industry,
product, and economy, an association does not need professional sales people to
sell price. For that, all you need is a website or media kit and a
if an association wants to increase sales and margin, it needs to teach its
resource development and/or advertising sales team how to establish real
value; and once the
sales teams are taught this, they need to practice doing it over and over
again. The difference between an amateur and a professional is that
professionals practice their skills; they don’t just play the game or go on
sales calls assuming the sales call is their "practice.” The key to overcoming
price is not a scripted catchy phrase; rather, it is learning how to create a
real value partnership between your association and its industry’s vendors, and
in order to do that, one must practice.
Selling Value Like Everyone Else
Selling value is more than making statements
like: "We have the industry authority, experience, and expertise,” or "Our members
make the difference.” When asked about the value offered, these are the most
common answers given from association sales people. And yet, this is no
different than a person going on a job interview and telling the interviewer
that they should hire them because they are a self-starter, team player, people
person, motivated, and loyal. Why? Because all of these answers are generic and
do not differentiate your association from the next organization. Here are some
points to remember when selling based on value.
Value is determined by the prospect. "What value do you add?” is a trick
question because it can only be answered after the sales professional
understands how the prospect defines what they believe is value. To determine
what the customer perceives as value, an association sales professional must
ask the prospective customer purposeful questions—and ask a lot of them. The
more the sales professional learns and understands, the more likely they will
be able to establish the association’s value according to the prospect.
many sales people know this, very few truly implement it. Too many sales people
flood a prospect with information on what the association has to offer without
knowing whether or not what they are saying will be of value to their prospective
advertiser. It cannot be stressed enough: Ask questions first before explaining
the value you bring.
Ask more than just open-ended or leading
questions. Most sales
people ask questions like: "Would it be a benefit to you if we could give you
more of this for less money?” In most cases, it is a rhetorical question that
the customer has no choice but to respond to with a ‘yes.’ That is like asking
a child if they’d like to have more candy, play all day, and not do homework.
However, asking purposeful
questions allows the sales professional to truly understand the prospect.
Here are three easy steps to make sure you’re able to sell on true value and
1. Write down your questions and take them with you. This does not make an association
sales person less of a professional or less of an expert. In fact, this will
allow you to show a prospect how important it is to fully understand their
needs and desires. To do this correctly, the order of your questions is
important as well. Start your questions wide: industry-company-person-current
vendor, and then finally about the product or service.
2. Help the prospective advertiser understand what makes your association
partnership is a two-way street, so remember that the association sales
professional is responsible for both
ways. This means the sales professional shares with the prospective advertiser
what makes the organization successful, focusing on the why and value for both
3. Practice, practice, practice. Practice your sales calls every day before you go on them,
rather than simply talking about the appointment afterwards and calling it
resource development team leaders do not mandate ongoing practice and get
involved themselves, then it will never happen. This is just like a
professional sports team that will not practice if the coach does not require
it and work on the field with the team.
thought: If the prospect cannot truly afford the association’s media products,
do not lower the price and the perceived value. Instead, find a new prospect.
By admitting that your product is not a fit, you will gain more advertisers
long-term than you will force-feeding an association’s magazine, e-newsletter,
or website advertising packages and losing value along the way.
every advertiser wants the most for the lowest price. This is not a bad thing
once an association media sales professional learns how to help the prospect
understand that what they really want is success for the best price.
success can only be achieved by working with a true partner. Association sales
professionals need to prepare and practice so the next time the prospective advertiser
says, "I want the cheapest price,” they are confident and ready to take control
of the sales call and never sell (or lose) on price again.
Jamail, best-selling author of The Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker,
entrepreneur, and corporate coach.