Forums » The Round Table: Brainstorming & Problem-solving

Unusual issue getting clients talking

    • 106 posts
    June 21, 2019 12:07 PM PDT

    When I got in to sales back in 1987, I was taught the consultant sale where you get the business talking about their business, strengths and weaknesses and the other usual questions. After taking notes I could easily present a plan that works for that business. This was in a small market where we were half of the 4 local stations. Then it was off to the big city.

    In a small market now, I am encountering a huge number of clients that just want to know the latest package we're touting. I try to divert with a summary statement such as "I'd like to learn a bit more about your business so I can design a custom package for you that gets the biggest bang for your buck. In short, my job is to deliver what you want for the amount you can comfortably spend". Many counter with, 'so what package you got?'

    It really bugs me to take a pot shot in the dark on budget and simply guess what a business might need. It's easy enough to get a general idea but I like to know I'm taking my best shot. I think it's my best attribute to counter the other media choices that pretty much go around selling a new little package each month. I prefer well thought out annual plans.

    I can pretty much bring a little something to the table. For example, at a tire dealer I asked if he had encountered consumers that bought tires online. I asked how he competes with the national chains less than a half hour away. In other words, I try to get them talking.

    Have you encountered this? How does one get past this?

    The only other note to share is this station with a tiny staff tends to write the business name and name of the package on the order but without the commercial schedule and frequently not even the monthly rate. Being the new guy, I'm trying to figure this out. In fact, I asked a couple of clients who weren't even sure but said "I don't know but you guys always take care of me". I'm sure not complaining about that level of trust. 

    It's been an okay start...2 new business clients the first 5 an annual at double what a typical client spends and another at a monthly level only eclipsed by 2 other advertisers. I have at least twenty proposals ready but vacations or a future start date leaves me learning patience again. I'm not the mad closer and I don't oversell. I simply create a plan that is just what the client wants and believes in. I never exceed the dollar amount they say they can afford. For both of my first orders it was all about customizing and bringing something exclusive to the table 

    And I'm having great fun meeting folks and trying to work for their continued success.

    • 14 posts
    June 28, 2019 6:23 AM PDT

    I think in 1987 you learned how to best be of service to the client.  I live this everyday with my clients and after 11 years in radio sales I have unbreakable relationships and the TRUST and RESPECT of my business owners.  I never ever shove a package down someone's throat and I loathe those that do.  It is a complete disservice.  Our stations are also family owned with about 7 employees and in a smaller market with half of the stations.  So very much the same.  Be likeable, show consideration, respect and sincere interest in helping your clients and the rest will fall into place.

    • 119 posts
    June 28, 2019 6:45 AM PDT

    Relationships always come first.

    I have both long term advertisers who are on month after month for years that started with creating a marketing program for them.

    I also have occasional advertisers that will contact me when they want my ideas.  I had one this week contact me about a sale he wants to do in July that will end up being about $5000 for 10 days of advertising.

    But it all starts with a relationship where I strive to:


    Help people buy, instead of selling them

    • 19 posts
    June 28, 2019 8:41 AM PDT


    Just keep doing what you are doing.  It is the right process.  Reps must prospect for the right clients, then do research on them and their industry to be able to have a strong VBR before they even pick up the phone to get an appointment.  Then use that info to develop strong discovery questions (min. of 3 specific to industry/business) during their CNA.  You have to learn and understand what they have and what they want and must discover and get agreement on a N.O.W (Need, Opportunity or Want).  Without all this... you are just shooting in the dark and hoping you hit something.  You'll get fewer, but better clients and develop real relationships that will allow you to use your skill and knowledge to change their business and their life.

    My 2 cents.

    • 106 posts
    June 28, 2019 11:43 AM PDT

    Thank you for the suggestions. My position is not stopping in unprepared. I have been doing sales for about 32 years and in a much more competitive environment than where I am now. You have to walk in and ask questions related to the industry and such. I was talking to a restaurant owner yesterday and he said 'you have to have been in the restaurant business'.  I took that as a complement.

    Where I can get people beyond 'what package you got', I seem to dazzle them. Simply put, they seem amazed I'll put a personalized proposal together just for their business. I don't get too many 'no' answers once I do that. It's just getting to that point.

    This is small town radio. A few want an appointment but most are 'just stop by when you can'. Truly it is an easy sell because of the popularity and positive reputation the station has. I suspect for too many years folks that sold for the station just walked in a package. A fellow today said it had been a few years since a salesperson walked in regularly to see him. I think the phone and email were used a bit too much. 

    Earlier this week I stopped at a business and every attempt to get them talking about their business by asking pointed questions (3 attempts), I got the same "what package you got". I finally said the package I have is to make what you want to happen for the price you want and all you need to do is tell me what you want and what you're comfortable spending. I'll create a plan just for you that gets you the biggest value and return. Their response: 'I don't know'.  I was pretty perplexed by the time I got back to the car. I know they don't spend a bunch historically but everywhere I've sold I've always had business owners who liked talking about their business. It's just a weird thing here, I guess.

    Yesterday I got a used car dealer after learning who his customer is, when they buy and all the specifics. We're doing a promotion around taking a test drive and get a free lunch...who says there's no such thing as a free lunch. I got a restaurant that never has bought radio to provide the meals at no cost to the client. My goal is to get enough of those gift certificates used to make the restaurant a believer in radio. 

    This post was edited by Bill Turner at June 28, 2019 11:49 AM PDT