Go Ahead: Touch Your Client

If it is true that the average economic decision-maker receives somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 sales calls per week, what separates an extraordinary account executive from one who produces very little billing? The answer: incremental gestures that first say, “I care,” then lead to more substantive gestures that build confidence that your Radio station is the correct investment.

It is very true that nobody cares what you know until they know you care. It’s also true that the deal is made well before it’s placed. Here are some ways to help you show your prospect or client that you actually do care and aren’t just paying lip service to him or her as part of the overall sales process:

As the telephone company used to say, “reach out and touch someone.” Under the Rule of 7, a prospect is cultivated to buy at about the seventh contact — or “touch” — with you and your station. Examples of these “touches” can be as simple as a thank-you note or a printed article of interest. Keep in mind that the more significant the investment, the more significant the substance of your touch.

Win their hearts, and their heads will follow. The human animal is plagued by self- doubt and, by extension, anxiously awaits kindness. There is the story of the auto dealer who represents nine different manufacturers and possesses a multi-million-dollar advertising budget along with a decision-maker more difficult to reach than George W. Bush. A simple gift certificate to his executive assistant generated an appointment that led to a 52-week order that any station would die for. Granted, somewhere between four and six “touches” preceded the gift certificate, but nonetheless, a $25 “thought for being so helpful” was the final catalyst to the order.

There’s also the story of the client who suffered a tragic loss with two young workers hit by a drunk driver. With no expectation of reward, the AE sent over 10 pizzas to an operation that was in mourning. Four weeks later, the client agreed to an advertiser “needs analysis” that resulted in a 52-week order with a gain of almost 400 percent. While some people might see this as a callous gesture during a particularly difficult time, the AE truly wished to express sympathy for the client; the buy was only coincidental.

OK, you get it, so where do you begin? First, let’s agree that our prospects must be qualified. Do they meet your best category profiles? Are their annual sales substantial enough to merit a substantial marketing budget? Is their business trading area in your geographic footprint? There is much more to say about qualifying, but assuming we have chosen our prospect well, let’s begin.

Start by doing the things your mother always suggested. Focus on being genuinely interested in your prospect. Be polite to everyone while making your first attempt at an appointment. Get names of people with whom you speak, and send everyone a note of thanks. A champion may emerge: A person you do not currently know may ultimately be the person who helps make your deal. Remember the story of the auto dealer.

Next, organize with your sales manager a list of items/resources that any prospect would be flattered to receive. Some ideas: Good-looking station thank-you notes, and a compact-disc dub of commercials from clients in similar categories. Everyone wants to know what the competition is up to, and you should never disregard the power of “herd mentality.” Also, successful people want successful company. Consider an easy-to-digest book on marketing. Have the station order an amount of these books substantial enough to distribute to qualified prospects. Hint: Existing clients welcome the book as well. Always inscribe your book — it’s personal.

Ultimately, the Rule of 7 begins by creating a foundation for personal friendship and ends having laid the foundation for a business relationship. At the third or fourth “touch,” our submissions must answer the clients’ needs — it is always about the needs. By advancing touches that are light and personal, then laser-focused on the need(s), we have accomplished our objective of presenting our ideas to an open and receptive decision-maker. Incidentally, we have also leveraged any potential negotiations to our favor, because nobody cares what you know until they know you care — and the deal is made well before it’s placed.

Michael B. Benjamin Reproduced by permission of Radio Ink

(Article printed from ARIA Connect - the online resource for radio sales professionals: www.aria-radio.com)

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