Sitting there is a team of four media buyers. This is your first time meeting with them, and on this account.
You shake hands, while listening to their names and the scuffle rumbling inside your head trying to remember them. You identify where you are to sit and start your descent, maintaining eye contact all the way down. As names start to float above the room, you casually reach into your carry-on bag without looking, as your hidden hand frantically searches for additional business cards.
It is show time.
Sales meetings are such an odd event. Planned in advance, packed with intensity, and yet so little information is actually retained once concluded.
In every sales call, there is always a beginning, a false ending, and a final ending. And in between, we sellers always talk too much. We try so hard not to--but once given the microphone, we verbally vomit in an effort to passionately disseminate information we carry in our bag about our product's virtues.
Just like any form of regurgitation, those lighter for the effort feel immediately better at the moment. That is, until you remind yourself on your trip back to the office of the mess you made in there.
The good news is that so little information is actually retained after a sales meeting--the mess evaporates with no cleaning required.
Retention of specific sales information is a problem because media buyers are literally under assault with sales communication. It is so important that media sellers today fully comprehend how much sales noise is in the marketplace. All of the IMs, the e-mails, the phone calls, the voice mails, the meetings, the delivered packages, the mailings, the lunches, the dinners, and the e-mails from MediaPost. Who could blame a media person for turning a deaf ear on occasion?
So, how can you avoid that occasion being yours? How do you make sure your core sales message sticks?
Simplify your message to one word, and engage your listener with a corresponding question.
Let me share an example of what I mean. At Tennis magazine, that one word was "competitive." Our reader, at their very core, was competitive. That is why they played the sport, and reading the magazine helped them compete.
The corresponding question I would attach to this one-word description was: "How will your client's product help my reader compete?"
The answer was more obvious for endemic products, but when posed to Hewlett-Packard, for example, it forced the media buyer to try to make the connection. "How can the HP Pavilion computer make my reader compete better in business?"
This approach starts a dialogue that rises above the demopsychographic babble media buyers tune out, and can set the stage for a creatively driven sale.
I tried this exercise with a print media sales rep recently.
She determined that the word that best described the core of their reader was elegant. What a great word. The magazine was a beautiful property, gorgeously designed and quite elegant. She deduced that the reader too, was elegant.
So now the corresponding question: "How can your client's product (or service) make my reader even more elegant?
Let's try another one. How about a finance magazine like Worth?
Upscale is too broad. How about diligent? Getting closer, as it does a good job of describing the kind of reader who consumes a financial magazine, but the corresponding question--"How does your client's product make my reader more diligent?"--does not engage a strong and creative connection.
Well-informed. Let's see how that would work.
"Worth magazine meets our readers' needs to be well-informed. How will T. Rowe Price keep our readers more well-informed?"
Yes, that works. And as the meeting with Worth magazine adjourns, hands are shaken and names repeated with confidence. The plate of surviving muffins is placed out for non-media personnel to feed on as the media team returns to their respective offices.
As they start their descent into their chair in preparation to sift through the accumulation of voice mails, e-mails, and mail mails delivered over the past hour, they place the rep's card on the growing pile in the corner of their desk near the phone.
As they take their seat, they look at the cover of the magazine they just met with, and feel slightly more well-informed than when they left.