To Sell Marketing Services, Stop Selling Ads & Start Selling Outcomes
Editor's Note: For more media sales tips, check out Reboot: Radically Transforming Media Sales, a sales training event led by Andrew Davis and Publishing Executive. The event will be hosted in New York City on November 16th. Learn more about Reboot here.
One of the first steps to successfully selling content marketing services -- whether sponsored white papers, native web ads, videos, or other -- is to determine the aptitude of your sales staff. Your clients have goals and outcomes they would like to achieve with their marketing spend but are your reps asking the right questions and listening to the answers? Do your sales reps have the skills to assess the situation and propose solutions that will help the client reach this desired outcome? Unfortunately many legacy advertising sales reps will struggle to make the transition from selling space to selling outcomes.
Successful marketing services sales reps are more consultative then their aggressive ad sales predecessors. They don't sell from the pages of a media kit and they certainly don't push a product before they evaluate what the client needs. Progressive salespeople understands that when a client says it has "no advertising budget" that that doesn't mean it has "no marketing budget." They realize they are not selling ads -- they are selling desired outcomes. Marketing solutions sales consultants attack the marketing budget and conduct a thorough needs analysis to better understand what outcomes the client needs in order to be successful.
In the new B2B selling environment, your sales people should be able to assess every client, and an effective tool I've developed to do this is a process I call "MAP IT." (Please note, these steps are not in chronological order):
What vertical markets is your client targeting -- retail, healthcare, finance, insurance, non-profit, etc.?
Does your client currently have content marketing assets such as white papers, video, infographics, case studies or native ads? If not, can we help them create and distribute assets?
What products will the client be focusing on during the current budget cycle? Who are the product managers? Who controls budget? What information can the client share on these products?
Key initiatives, goals, new product releases, key business news, budget focus.
Who is the desired target of your client's marketing message -- C-level management, marketing, IT, HR? Do we have access to those titles within the vertical markets we serve?
Effective marketing services sales teams ask the right questions, listen, take detailed notes, prioritize, and propose marketing solutions that fulfill their clients' desired outcomes. A doctor doesn't prescribe a treatment for a patient without first conducting a thorough exam and carefully diagnosing the symptoms and your salespeople shouldn't be selling products without understanding the goals of your customers. You can use MAP IT or some other series of questions specific to your market but make sure your reps are conducting a needs analysis.
And ask yourself: How many of your reps have these skills now? How many do you believe can be trained to sell differently and how many just can't make the transition? Once you evaluate your staff and begin to take actions to train them or replace them you'll be better positioned to succeed selling content marketing services.
David Leskusky is president of NAPCO Media, which owns Publishing Executive