Are you a student of the sales game? When I first started my career, I believed that the sum of sales boiled down to three elements: 1. Qualifying prospects; 2. Determining the prospects' needs; 3. Influencing prospects to spend money on my product in order to increase their business.
Over the years, I have found that the sales game has many varied components. Here are five of my favorite tried-and-true techniques for reaching to the stars in media sales.
1. Since most of us cannot hire a public relations company, we need to learn to conduct our own publicity. Be noticed when entering a room. Leading image consultants tell us that a customer will form 11 different impressions about a person and their company within the first seven seconds of meeting that person. Before the first syllable even rolls off a rep's tongue, the customer has formed an opinion as to whether they like, dislike, or are indifferent to them.
Public relations is also about the delivery of the message. When addressing a group consisting of men and women, avoid saying, "Hi guys." I am guilty of using this greeting and usually have to catch myself before I say it. I prefer the more formal greeting of "ladies and gentlemen."
I know one general manager, when he hears "to be honest with you" will come right out of his chair. He will say, "Does that mean you haven't been honest unless you say that phrase?" Try to keep "to be honest with you" out of conversations. Here is one last example for good measure. When addressing a superior, don't say, "Hey chief." We have some squaws in the ranks, too! Proper names are the best policy.
2. Attitude: I once had the privilege of shooting a question at Michael Jordan in the locker room after a Rockets/Bulls basketball game. I asked him, "What do you think about each time before you take the court to play an NBA game?" He answered, "The only thing I think about is that the only person who has any business on that court is ME." Take that attitude on the next sales call and see what happens!
3. Idea Generation: For some in media sales, and especially local media sales, creative ideas are very important. I think creativity in many cases is a lost art in the local sales game. Before buying a new car, almost everyone wants to test drive it, right? The same goes for presenting innovative campaigns. Prospects and clients want to see plans that work before they invest with a rep. One tactic is to always present two different ideas instead of one. Far too often, we lose out when we bring only one creative plan to the closing presentation. Remember, both ideas should be able to accomplish the goal that you have outlined in the customer marketing profile call when the prospect was qualified and quantified.
4. Self-Knowledge: Self-knowledge leads to self-mastery. A samurai maxim says, "The greatest warrior is the one who conquers himself." Self-knowledge means reading and watching everything there is to know about that field. Then execute. Get that nose bloody. Not trying means not doing.
5. Master the Art of Questioning: What is the percentage of information-based questions versus problem-related questions that a rep should ask? On the first call, the questions should be 75 percent of the who, what, when, where, why, and how variety. The other 25 percent should be problem-related questions that get to the heart of the matter and create that emotional connection. If a rep does not find the challenge and opportunity, developing solutions to help the prospect or customer will be difficult.
Hall of Fame basketball player, coach, and NBA executive Larry Bird said that he always tried to elevate his game, every game, one game at a time, by mastering his techniques on the court. You can do the same.
Sean Luce is the Head International Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org