Commentary

Media Sales: Don't Overlook The Human Connection

Once in a while I like to comment on the topic of media salespeople.   Please don’t get me wrong — I like media salespeople.  I really do.  I married a media salesperson.  I know how hard that job can be.  

That being said, I really wish that connecting to me on LinkedIn were not the primary way for a media salesperson to reach out and try to get a foot in the door these days.  There has to be a better way, because they are single-handedly diminishing the perceived value of the LinkedIn network.

Let’s start with the “lazy” outreach: “Hi, I see that we are connected to some of the same people.  Maybe we should connect too.”

Just because we know some of the same people does not make us open to connecting.  I know this because when I do accept these connection requests, the next message I get is inevitably, “Now that we’re connected, I would love to show you our platform for <insert your platform descriptor here>.”  

It’s  clear these folks are trolling LinkedIn on a numbers game.  They reach out to as many people as they can in hope of getting a response.  

What about the more engaged aggressive “calendar with me” outreach? “Hi.  I was checking out you and <insert company> and I think I can help you with your efforts.  Let’s schedule 20 minutes this week – Here is a link to my calendar so please feel free to book a time.”  This is certainly more assertive outreach, but I find it to be a turn-off. I would think that salesperson would have better success if they offered an idea or two and suggested a couple of times that might work rather than putting me in a position to suggest the times by clicking on their calendar link.  

I realize these tools are intended to make connecting easier.  They truly do cut down on the back-and-forth, but they also dehumanize the connection and make it much harder for me to want to engage.  

Great salespeople know that to be successful you have to do two things:  First, create a personal connection that humanizes you and makes it harder for the lead to shut the door on your proverbial face.  

To this day, I still remember the salespeople who did the best job of connecting with me when I was a media planner. Many of those people are still good friends.  They found something we had in common and took the time to get to know what motivated me before we met.  They tried to separate themselves from the masses, which made them successful. Media is a relationship business, and no one will do business with a company they don’t know.  

Second, the best salespeople listen before they talk too much.  This is hard to do, especially in a world where programmatic and self-serve platforms rule the day.  80+% of dollars are spent on Google, Facebook and Amazon, and I’d guess that well over 50% of those dollars are spent in a way that has no human connection.  

To me that is sad, and not where the future of sales lies.  I think human connection will lead to bigger and better deals and longer-lasting relationships.  

Call me old-fashioned, but the salesperson who asks the right question and then listens for the response so he/she can understand our needs and what we are trying to accomplish is still better than any self-service platform.  Self-service systems can be shut off and you can move on.

So the next time you want to write that cold email on LinkedIn, take a moment to know the person you’re reaching out to rather than copying and pasting a message.  I bet you your commission that might work out better for you.

4 comments about "Media Sales: Don't Overlook The Human Connection".
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  1. Eric Fischer from HJA Strategic Consulting, July 17, 2019 at 1:29 p.m.

    Prospecting is indeed a lost art.  Used to read newspapers, clip out relevant articles, figure out a connection between that article and my network and send to the buyers\directors\VPs\heads of buying groups.  I wasn't selling a "must have" property so had to work harder.  Remember Steve Grubbs sending a nice note to my head of sales about that approach.  Needless to say those days are long gone.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 17, 2019 at 1:58 p.m.

    Bravo !

  3. Jack a. Silverman from Bolin Marketing, July 17, 2019 at 2:25 p.m.

    Cory very good post. I've written on this subject several times. LinkedIn is a great tool when used properly. Today lazy sales people want you to do all their work for them and I wish I had a quarter (2019 values) for each time they ask for 15 minutes to explain something I'm not even looking for. From the very start of LinkedIn I've tried to take the position that if I could help someone or provide value and vice versa I would entertain their connection request. I think my network is very pure and relevant because of this. This trend of lazy connection is only going to get worse as there are now several programs available where you can scale your outreach by obtaining prospect names via a title search. And yes I do make "cold call" requests but I have definitely researched them and their company first to try and provide some value. 

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, July 18, 2019 at 5:52 p.m.

    Spot on Cory.

    There is hardly a day doesn't go by when someone I don't know and have never heard of contacts me via LinkedIn because they have a magic genie which with laser-like pin-point targetting can generate untold number of sales leads and make me a rich man.

    Except I don't sell anything - thus demonstrating how poor their targeting and sales effectiveness is.

    I typically Ignore them, but on occasion I respond pointing out their folly, and generally receive very indignant and angry replies.   The classic double whammy of sales errors.

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