In my office hangs a small sign that (in part) reads: “You are not in the sales business, you are a marketing consultant who sells ideas and solutions.” Regular readers will know I quote sales guru Dave Gifford a lot, and this is another one from “Giff.”
I believe, in order to be “a marketing consultant who sells ideas and solutions,” you must first sell your prospects on two things – one is a partnership and the other is YOU.
We hear this all the time, the concept of selling ourselves, but I often wonder if people are aware what that means. I heard one person say recently, “you first sell the trust in you,” and I asked him if that’s really possible. It sounds good, but do you ever really build trust in someone quickly? To me, trust is something that builds over time. Some things you can show someone quickly is demeanor, a passion for what you’re selling, professionalism (were you on time and prepared?) and the ability to listen.
I often advise sports media sellers to step back and turn the tables around. If you’re the business owner, thinking about your business and what you want out of a “marketing consultant,” what types of things would you look for? I’d want someone to ask me good questions that make me think about my business, someone who did some homework and made themselves at least dangerous enough to hold a conversation about the business or industry that I’m in and I’d want someone who I can learn something from without them being a know-it-all.
Nobody goes in to a sale thinking about earning a short-term, one-time advertiser. We think, or are supposed to be thinking about, long term clients willing to make long term investments in their business. So, if that’s the case and this is to be someone you’ll have a working relationship with for a long time, there needs to be compatibility, the personalities need to mesh. My best clients over the years became great friends, and I’m certain that has been the case for many of you. Did that happen because they really liked the radio station I represented? More likely, it was because we had common interests and/or personalities and liked to hang out together.
One of my favorite words to use in our business is “partnership.” If I have met with 5,000 clients in my days, then I have said 5,000 times that I am interested in “a mutually beneficial partnership” and that I am “not interested in a short term opportunity, I am most interested in bringing you measurable results for your business as I know if I do that, we will be long time partners.”
It’s quite the powerful word, “partnership.” One of the actual definitions is “joint interest.” You have an interest in learning about the prospective client’s business and sharing marketing ideas and solutions and they have interest in investing in their company and your marketing expertise with the joint interest of growing the revenue of the business.
Selling the idea of this being a partnership and not just a sale or the package of the week is a point I try and drive home throughout the presentation to a client once I have all of the information needed to put it together. This even works as a close, being able to reiterate what each of you is bringing to the table while gaining their confidence, “With your expertise in your field and my expertise in mine, along with our mutual interest in growing your business, how can we lose? Are you ready to move forward?”
Sell the partnership and never forget they’re buying you. Make it so that whatever the investment is, they know your services being included has tremendous value, because now you are THEIR marketing consultant who sells ideas and solutions.
Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content
Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.
When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.
“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.
Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:
1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”
2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.
The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.
I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.
Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”
There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.
First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.
The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.
The Client Just Said YES, Now What?
We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.
One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!
We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.
When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.
They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.
A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.
Media Noise – Episode 74
This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.