Are all sales the same? I used to tell reps all the time, I don’t care why the client buys – as long as they buy. As I’ve grown in my own career, I’ve learned that way of thinking is short-sided and if you aren’t thinking of the renewal when you make the sale, why they bought may very well matter, because there may not be a chance for a second sale.
I heard a seller not too long ago say something to a client that I absolutely loved – “I am in the renewal and referral business. If I don’t earn that from my clients, I’m doing something wrong.” I told her I thought that was a terrific thing to say to the prospect (and that I was stealing it immediately) and she said she says it because she consciously is thinking of the next sale even before she gets the first one. I thought that line really packed some power and have said it in many meetings since.
Have you ever looked at your list of clients and thought about how many of those you’d developed on your own, versus a transactional piece of business or something you inherited? As a manager, part of my job is to really dive in and find where problems could lie before they become bigger problems. One of the things I like to do is dig in to an AE’s list and separate the accounts that have been fully developed by that rep from the others. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need all these types of accounts, but those accounts that have truly been developed by a local rep are the ones that are most important.
Another way to look at things after you’ve written up an order is to truly assess if you made a sale or took an order. Two very different things, right? When we take an order, we’ve gotten that transactional business or something has “fallen from the sky.” A sale is something where you put some work in for the order to happen or those dollars don’t hit the books.
Did you prospect a new client from the coupon pack you got in the mail and turn it in to a radio customer? Did you ask for more money than the client said they have? Did you negotiate great rates for the prime spots in the package? Did you start with a radio spot sale and then turn it in to an integrated marketing campaign? Or did you do the unimaginable and turn a ‘No’ in to a ‘Yes?’ That’s selling.
I recall being with someone on a call in the mid 2000’s when the client started the meeting by saying he had no idea we were coming and wasn’t sure why his partner had set up the meeting. They had “tried radio in the past and it didn’t do anything for us.” Terrific, what a great way to start a meeting!
The guy I was with was unphased. In fact, I could see him relax and get a bit excited after the guy said this. He saw opportunity, so he got the guy talking about his last radio experience asking what stations he ran on, how long the campaign ran, what they spent and what the focus of the campaign was. It didn’t take my rep long to figure out what a lot of us find out when we get in these situations – in short, they were sold something with a “one-time-deal” mentality. Someone had come in, pitched low rates, spread them way too thin on a couple of stations (one of which was completely opposite of his target demo) and took the money and ran.
After listening intently to all his complaints of the previous radio experience, we explained to him why the short-term nature of the whole deal was the root of the problem. The schedule didn’t run for a long enough period of time, it wasn’t enough spots on either station and there was no integration with programming or idea behind the campaign. He started to ask some questions that showed clear interest in learning more about what we thought were good ideas for him. As we asked him more and more questions about his business he pointed out that he’d never really had this type of conversation with his previous rep. The conversation ended with our station earning the right for them to give radio another shot. That was a sale.
So, no, not all sales are the same. Sometimes you actually have to sell to get the business.