By John Foust
Greg used to help his uncle sell and deliver firewood on weekends. No doubt, that influenced one of his first phone calls when he started selling advertising for his local newspaper. His prospect asked, “Why are you asking so many questions?” and he said, “I’m just trying to figure out if you need a full load or a half-load.”
Greg’s sales manager told me it was one of the most honest things she had ever heard a salesperson say. “He was doing the right thing by asking questions to discover needs,” She explained. “When the prospect wondered what was going on, Greg admitted that, yes, he was calling to talk about a possible ad campaign, but he couldn’t recommend anything until he learned about the prospect’s business.
“Although he no longer talks about full loads and half-loads, he still does a great job of learning about his prospects and how they need to market their products,” she said.
When you think about it, it’s easy to see that firewood and advertising have a lot in common. Both serve specific purposes and both occupy measurable space. A full load of advertising is a big campaign splash with a sizable budget, while a half-load is something less than that.
Let’s see where this firewood comparison leads:
Know your prospect. Not everyone needs everything that is being sold. That is one of the biggest lessons of selling.
In order to find the right contact, consider saying something like, “In order to save time for you, I wonder if you can tell me who makes decisions about your company’s advertising?” Then… “What is the best way to get in touch with that person?”
Like the old saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy.” That goes for selling firewood or advertising or anything else.
John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: firstname.lastname@example.org