Coffee News® and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Part 2
In the initial sales call, after you have had a chance to exchange basic introductions, potential advertisers will want to know the answer to some basic questions and may offer some of their views or experiences on advertising, in general. This is a key opportunity to learn past experiences and personal successes or failures of advertising for them. This client asked two questions and made one statement. The first question was about the effect of digital and social media on Coffee News® advertising, and the second question was how could Coffee News® help her business. But, before I could answer, the client stated emphatically that she has never advertised and does not have an advertising budget. She said that the current sales volume is enough to remain profitable, but sales had been trending downward in the past three years. At some point, the operation could begin to lose money. But, she was, at least, open to ideas on how to reverse the annual sales trend. She added that she did not believe in advertising!
The client is skeptical that advertising works and is even more skeptical that Coffee News® can work for her. The classic response in sales when confronted with skepticism, is to offer proof. What did I have for proof that Coffee News® works?
Without any attempt to change her mind, I responded slowly and carefully to her two questions, much as a college professor of advertising might respond. I could see some acceptance in her facial expressions and comments, but stopped short of trying to influence her mind about advertising. The best source of proof that Coffee News® works is to show her copies of our local editions, filled with lots of local advertisers, all containing phone numbers for the businesses. I encouraged her to call each one for a testimonial. Then I showed her ads from clients who had advertised, continuously, in Coffee News® for many years, even one who started in our very first edition 22 years ago!
We ended our first meeting after an hour and a half and returned to my office. As I paused to debrief the sales call in my mind, I suddenly realized I had made a huge mistake. Why had I not taken some ad samples from around the country from publishers who had sold ads to Habitat for Humanity or ReStore? I called our print shop and immediately received 15 ads currently running in our publishers’ editions. Had I done this before the meeting, I could have given her 15 examples of great ads purchased by her own associates in other communities in other states. What a positive message it would have given her! Not only that, but it would have eliminated the need to answer her two questions or respond to her negative feelings about advertising. I could have said, “Don’t take my word for how advertising works, check with your associates around the country. Ask them why they are advertising in Coffee News® and if they feel it is working for them.
I emailed her the 15 ads to review and will catch up with her again at Rotary, soon.
Selling advertising is a process of building a long-term relationship and building trust.
Bill Buckley, President