Commentary

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

This past Sunday, I watched one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time. I witnessed crisp exchanges of powerful bombs and perfectly timed counter-punches delivered equally well by each fighter. The resiliency shown by both participants made Rocky look like a slacker. The intensity of the drama drew silence from a packed house and in the end, the reigning champion's arms rose above his head while tears rolled down his face.

Anyone else catch the Wimbledon final? It appeared as a tennis match on the surface, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a fight. In our business of selling manufactured consumer attention, it appears the greatest salespeople are the best sellers. But look under the surface and you will see the best in our business seem like they're selling when, in fact, they excel at making it easier for buyers to spend.

No one -- including media buyers and their clients -- wakes up in the morning wishing to be sold to. Buyers don't want to be sold; they want their buying decisions validated.

Making buyers comfortable with buying from you takes a keen ear so you can respond with metrics, content examples, case studies, creativity and gut instincts that match their buying objectives. Some sellers forget buyers need to sell their selections to their clients -- so making that job easier for them should be your No. 1 focus. That's not selling per se, but rather, setting the table to be bought.

Once a buyer emotionally commits -- that's when the true selling begins. For example, it's hard to sell a full-course meal -- appetizers, dessert and a bottle of wine -- to consumers walking by your restaurant, but it's a piece of cake after they have sat down and picked up the menu. Watch next time how a great waiter eases you into appetizers, a dinner special or a dessert you didn't plan on ordering, causing you to spend more than you planned on spending (you know that look you give the bill). Whether it's selling cars, homes or hot dogs on the street, drawing in more dollars than a buyer intended spending is where selling lives.

But first you have to get buyers to sit down at your table; only then do you try to sell them the kitchen sink. The great salespeople spend more time and creative effort figuring out who to invite and how to best extend their invitation. They understand you can't sell a steak to a vegetarian -- even if their managers want them selling to anyone who eats.

Your closing ratio between those invited and those who accept is the difference between a good year and a championship year. Enjoy the fight.

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