June 29, 2009

Sales has a Bad Reputation

Why does sales have a bad reputation? When you think of sales you think of someone trying to make you want something that you don’t actually want. So if sales has a bad rep, how do you sell? You change the mindset—just one of the great slices of advice I learned today.

In order for my team and myself to gain a fresh perspective on the day-to-day College Media work, I often step outside of our bubble and reach out to other experts in their fields. For our editorial team, I asked Lauren Brown, previously an editor for the Baltimore Sun, to share her insights on what it takes to be a great editor. Simply put, Lauren rocked. (Soon to come: Editing 101).

Today I invited Sam Sheibani, manager of College Park's Darcars with 17 years of sales experience to speak to our Marketing & Sales team. Right before he joined us, we spent an hour discussing advertising sales experiences so far and unfortunately everyone seemed discouraged. For everyone’s first month of making cold calls, warm visits, and setting up meetings with advertisers, they learned a lot but it wasn’t easy. (Hey, they can’t say I didn’t warn them). Some of the challenges they pin pointed were staying motivated, getting a business owner to meet with them and hearing the most discouraging word of all: no.

But when Sam came into the office, he immediately changed the tone. He challenged us to shift our mindset about sales: to shift from selling to helping. Because when it comes down to it, the reason a person is going to buy a product, whether it’s a car or a magazine ad, it’s because they see the product as something that will help them (get them from point A to B or give them exposure and more business). So how do you do this? Here’s what we learned:

1. Make it your goal to help them. Literally ask: “How can I help you?”
2. Identify their needs. Ask about their business, their team, their life.
3. Listen.

And when they say “no,” ask “why?” The reason may be something you can solve (a payment plan, brainstorming design ideas) so in the end, you can still help them out.

Stay tuned for unique ways to measure advertising ROI.

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