My soapbox of the last decade has been training salespeople on this basic message: It's not about US, our stations, our newspapers, our digital products. It IS about THEM, our clients and their worlds, needs, problems and aspirations. The more we understand their worlds and operate from their perspectives, the more successful we will be.
Ad Mall surveyed small and medium-sized businesses and found that 55% said that reps who know their (the client's) customer base are critical for success. Two-thirds of small business owners say they want a sales rep who knows their business. It is no longer enough to know our own company's products.
So, how do we come to understand our clients' businesses? Ask them! The needs analysis phase of our sales process becomes vital in obtaining the information we need to craft successful campaigns. The questions asked in the needs analysis phase should be centered on the client's business.
We need to understand their metrics. We need to talk about the business of the business before we talk about the marketing of the business.
- What is their average sale?
- What is their profit margin?
- What is their closing ratio?
- What part of their business gives them the greatest ROI?
- Have their profit centers shifted?
- What challenges are they facing today that they didn't face one year ago?
These are just a sample of questions that focus on the world of the client. It is no longer acceptable to ask "surface" questions. We must dig more deeply into the concerns of the client. Many of the questions we ask would be asked by a business consultant. We are that, with a specialization in marketing.
Many of us are now selling digital products as well as legacy radio, TV and newspaper ads. This gives us the opportunity to become full-service marketing consultants for our clients. Selling digital can improve our bottom line, but we must guard against losing our focus on our core business.
Today's sellers must be more sophisticated than ever before. We must have broad understanding of the principles of advertising and marketing. We must have a working knowledge of business. We must understand all of the products we have to sell.
What an exciting time to be in our business! Happy understanding and happy selling!