Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

I was talking to Kyle, an advertiser who has been dealing with media representatives for many years. “I can tell a lot about a salesperson by what they say about their competitors,” he said. “It is extremely unprofessional to try to make sales points by trashing the other guys. In fact, negative comments reveal more about the critic than they do about the object of their criticism.” 

As we prepare to head to sunny Palm Springs, Calif., for the 2013 WCAA Conference, we thought it only appropriate to address the networking potential of conferences. If navigated correctly, you could meet potential colleagues, make valuable contacts and, yes, even land some new clients! We have some tips to make the most out of conferences:

A common obstacle salespeople face in their work is a distrustful client. But who can blame them? The longstanding image that salespeople are fast-talking and manipulative isn’t a made-up stereotype, it’s very much based in reality. These figures exist, but that doesn’t mean their sales techniques work or that you should adopt them. In fact, this archetype has become so prevalent that it makes consumers weary of being sold anything at all. Therefore, if you want to successfully sell your department’s advertising services, then it’s important to ward off habits associated with this distrustful salesperson image. According to Ali Luke’s article for Copyblogger, there are several ways you can lose your prospective client’s trust in an instant. We have them here, so you can avoid them during your next sales call.

I remember talking to a frustrated advertiser who was complaining about a certain media sales rep. “I was interested in his publication,” the advertiser told me, “and in fact, I had called him to set the appointment. But from the moment he walked into my office, he was insincere and sales-ey. He spent the whole time boasting about how great his paper was. After a few minutes, it was obvious that all he cared about was making a sale. He never made an effort to learn about my business. I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.” 

 

Success in sales hinges a great deal on appearances and first impressions whether you like it or not. Of course, landing a sale has everything to do with what you’re offering, what the client needs and the presentation itself. But even if all of that is on the up and up, most likely a client won’t trust you with their business if they don’t see you as a competent and professional individual. Therefore, a component of branding yourself as a successful and trustworthy salesperson has nothing to do with the actual business at hand, and all to do with you! We’ve got some tips to build your image in order to make sure your next sale sticks.

 

Email is an integral part of our daily communication — especially for professionals — and it has been for quite some time now. In fact, many professionals have their work email sent straight to their phones, blurring the lines of standard in-office work hours. This constant flow of back-and-forth emails brings with it some interpersonal issues. Sometimes emails are written in the moment, without a second glance. This can lead to not only technical errors, but it can also cause the message to be received as rude, even if it’s unintentional. Therefore, just because email provides a way to instantaneously communicate with others to get the job done, that doesn’t mean they should be sent in haste. In fact, doing so could potentially burn some bridges with colleagues and potential clients! With the help of The Huffington Post’s Dana Sachs and her article, “9 Rules of Email Etiquette,” we have some basic rules to keep in mind when composing your next email. 

 

While new technologies continue to outmode face-to-face and telephone sales calls, it’s important that when you do make a sales call to potential and existing clients, you make it worth their time. In an interview with Inc.com, Jeffrey Seeley, the CEO of Carew International, came up with a few major mistakes to avoid during sales calls in order to make every call count.

As a sales rep, you have to have a thick skin and almost impossible confidence. Sales can be a touchy career that causes reps to toughen up to meet its demands. However, sometimes the key to sales and relationship building is more about softening up and losing the tough exterior to make your clients more comfortable around you. In Jeff Haden’s article for Inc., “6 Habits of Remarkably Likeable People,” he details the ways people unleash their inner charisma and likeability that puts others at ease.

 

No matter your career, sales reps and ad managers included, you are bound to find yourself at social gatherings with colleagues and fellow professionals. This could be happy hour drinks after a long day at work or perhaps a holiday party; whatever it is, there are ways to navigate these professional social outings that will help you solidify yourself as a leader within the company, while displaying your friendly, out-of-the-office side. The key is to interact with everyone, even if they are outside of your normal work circle, in order to establish your presence within the company. However, you also want to avoid offending your co-workers by acting like you’re on the clock 24/7, hypercompetitive and incapable of distinguishing between the work and non-work events. In the Inc. article, “How Leaders Make the Most of Social Gatherings,” the author, Minda Zetlin, interviewed the Chief Learning Officer at Dale Carnegie Training, Michael Crom, on how to get the best of both worlds during professional social events. He affirmed that you can be a leader while not losing the casual, work-free environment. Keep reading for our assessment of his advice and take it with you to your next work party!

“Recently I fired a great salesperson,” Stacey Alcorn wrote in the opening sentence of her article for The Huffington Post.  It took me by surprise, and I’m willing to bet your reaction was similar to mine. The success or failure of a newspaper ad department often hinges on the sales team. So why on earth would Alcorn fire someone she defines as a great salesperson? That is what she went on to explain in her article, “Firing Your Sales Force – Redefining Greatness.” As she noted, the sales industry has undergone a complete and utter transformation in the past 50 years, if not in just the past decade. It wasn’t so long ago that we would receive a knock on the front door and be greeted by a salesperson trying to sell kitchen utensils, make up or the like. Those days are past us, and now, with the help of smartphones, laptops and tablets, consumers go to the source for their purchases, often circumnavigating the salesperson. Although many salespeople, like the one Alcorn let go, may be great at their jobs based upon previous definitions — like the number of sales they can close — that may not be the case any more. Alcorn implored readers to redefine what it means to be a great salesperson and hire accordingly. She set up three key characteristics to look for when creating a sales team to be reckoned with.

It’s common knowledge that the majority of salespeople are extroverts. They’re confident, personable and extremely social beings. However, in his Huffington Post article, “The Gregarious Salesman: Death of a Stereotype,” Wray Herbert brings this common knowledge into question. Do extroverts truly make for the best salespeople? Instead of fact, Herbert believes this notion is actually a myth. 

It can be a hard thing to hear that the majority of you success can be mental, but it’s true. Having and maintaining a positive attitude is one of the keys to success, especially in sales, because it allows you to keep going, even when times are tough and the road ahead looks hard. In “Three Mindsets of Long-Run Sales People,” an article by Ted Haro found in the Huffington Post’s Business Section, the author discusses some keys to having and keeping a positive attitude.

 

People talk about how your attitude can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”. Accurate this information may be, the words you use, both indicative of your attitude and your approach the situation, can either help you succeed or cause you to fail. In an article found on Inc.com, Geoffrey James, lists five words that often cause failure in sales and in life.

 

Sales reps face a tough job day in and day out. Often, when customers are approached by a salesperson, they are cautious, or even worse; they’re suspicious. This distrust can throw more than a mere roadblock in many sales deals; it can stop the sale before it even gets off the ground. As a result, what Ted Harro called sales “shortcuts” in an article for The Huffington Post tempt many salespeople. These shortcuts, however tempting, can do more damage than good. They can have a long-term negative impact on a sales rep’s reputation within the industry. Below, we assess five of these shortcuts and why they should be avoided.

When selling anything, the best advice you’ll ever get is from the person you’re selling to. Your customers can tell you where you’re going wrong, what you’re doing right and how you can improve service while still maintaining both your and their bottom lines. Although we can’t talk directly to your customers to give you pointers, we have found some general advice from some big name companies about how to best market and sell to them. In “Sales Tips From The World’s Toughest Customers,” by Kasey Wehrum for Inc. Magazine, some of the world’s largest and most successful companies — like Coca-Cola, UPS, Northrop Grumman and Dell — were asked why they use the suppliers they do and what not to do when trying to sell them something.

School’s out, and kids everywhere are thanking their lucky stars that they won’t have homework for another couple of months. While school-aged kids may not see the value in doing their homework, you most certainly understand that doing the necessary research and organization can help you make that clutch sale. Now is the time to do a little extra work and show your clients not only how much they mean to you, but also how much you can help them.

So this one time… I’m only kidding, I don’t have a story for you. However, I am here to tell you that a story, especially one about your service, product or capabilities, can help you make a sale. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, a story can help build a relationship of trust between two people. Secondly, a good story can help eliminate the selling aspect of a sales relationship and gives the product or service an added value that statistics and discounts can’t provide. 

In order to be a successful newspaper sales representative, it’s incredibly important to be aware of your relationship with your customers. Are they happy? Are they dissatisfied? Why or why not? It’s essential to create a strong foundation to build from, and then continue to develop it as long as they’re doing business with your ad department. Even if a customer decides to part ways, it’s critical that you learn why, and then take that knowledge to strengthen relationships with future clients. One of the goals of your position is to create customer loyalty — to make a customer happy enough with your product and service that they will continue to do business with you. By placing importance on building and maintaining customer relationships and loyalty, you increase the likelihood of new leads and clients. On the other hand, if customers are left unattended, it will instead give your ad department a bad reputation that will follow you everywhere you go.

There’s no doubt about it, personal branding is key if you want to succeed in newspaper sales. However, it seems lately that everyone is coming up with a list of cookie cutter rules on how to brand yourself. Who says these rules are the end-all-be-all? In fact, some have argued that these rules were made to be broken. Below, we have gathered a few traditional personal branding rules and then suggest how breaking them may actually be to your advantage.

Facebook is an obvious asset for marketers when working to advertise products and services throughout your community. The instant connectivity to a local demographic that is available through the newsfeed and convenience of posting and sharing only scrapes the surface of the benefits Facebook has for your department. Beyond having the ability to upsell services to advertisers that may be less technically savvy or may simply not have time to deal with general upkeep of their social site, your sales reps can use Facebook to create or enhance working relationships with local marketers and community members to strengthen their reputation and increase their sales potential.

February and March are the last stretches of winter for most us; soon birds will be chirping and flowers will be blooming. I’m sure most of you, like me, will have a new spring in your step, and flashing a smile to a stranger on the way to work will feel like an old habit instead of a daily hassle. But for now, we must look out of our windows, watch the cold rain fall and wait for the warm sun to stream into our shutters. Although this weather may make you feel tired and lethargic, as it does for most people, it is important to maintain a good attitude. 

Creating and maintaining relationships with advertisers can be done in a multitude of ways. Actual connection and social media are two of the most predominate facets of communication in modern times. Often though, as the digi-era ages on, the reality of relationships becomes distorted. Some reps have confused the idea of digital intimacy for true intimacy. The ease and convenience of connecting to others online has given reps the idea that these relationships are more intense and more committed than they really are. These reps “run the risk of alienating the people who populate our daily lives in pursuit of intimacy with our online friends. We each have only so much intimacy to go around and we need to make sure we’re investing it for our own maximal benefit,” according to socialmediaexaminer.com. While I’m not suggesting neglecting the benefits of social media, I do recommend you proceed with caution, and remember the value in human interaction.

As the 10-year anniversary approaches of one of the most tragic days in our country’s history, many advertisers are found in a tough position. The decision to run ads while on a 9/11 anniversary, especially one as significant as the 10th anniversary, is difficult; forcing advertisers to think of new strategies and designs. They need to find a balance, striking a perfect middle, to ensure that their ad shows sensitivity and remembrance, steering far away from signs of exploitation. Attempts have been made in the past, some good and some bad, when running ads during the anniversaries of 9/11. We hope to change that by providing tips to show how this daunting task can be accomplished successfully. 

Like it or not, a first impression can make or break a sale.  Details of your appearance can show a lot about your work ethic, integrity, passion and professionalism.  If what you demonstrate upon a first encounter is slouchy, people assume your business habits are probably equally slouchy. Say you’re a car salesman driving a less than representable vehicle, it’s clear to see the client has the foreground to create a preconceived opinion of your work habits. It’s the same concept with your physical appearance. The key to a successful first impression is to present yourself appropriately, while paying attention to detail.