Buyer’s Guides are an important source of non-dues revenue supporting the initiatives of your organization. Selling advertising in a Buyer’s Guide should focus on building long-lasting relationships with advertisers who may become your conference sponsors or advertise in your print journal and website banners. Each advertiser you engage with has the potential to be a large contributor to your bottom line. A respectful and consultative sales approach is crucial to building a strong relationship with these advertisers.
Here are the best practices for consultative selling that helps build your brand reputation with Buyer’s Guide advertisers:
Presenting the right opportunities for upselling.
The main approach in consultative selling is to listen and teach. As you are listening to the challenges your advertiser’s business faces, find opportunities to teach them about solutions you offer that will help them overcome these obstacles. Ask intelligent questions to guide them to the solutions. Presenting solutions specific to their needs often creates upsell opportunities, which will truly benefit their business while increasing the amount of advertising revenue invested with you.
Remember to sell the solution and not just your advertising products. You aren’t selling a featured listing in a Buyer’s Guide, you are selling more visibility of their brand within your niche member base.
Understanding the importance of timing to the advertiser’s business.
Talk to advertisers to understand their business goals and needs. Are they looking to drive new business around a product launch, or do they need to drive business during non-peak seasons?
Listening to and understanding the business needs of your advertisers helps them to feel reassured that you have their best interest in mind when proposing solutions. Speaking to their business needs in your proposal will help the advertiser feel more comfortable and more likely to be successful working with you.
Be respectful and take no for an answer.
Just as you may disqualify prospects, a prospect may disqualify you as a solution. You should be respectful of an advertiser who is not interested in being featured in your Buyer’s Guide. This does not mean that you should not try to overcome some objections. It simply means, you must be able to know the difference between when the opportunity you are selling can benefit an advertiser and when it won’t have enough impact to be valuable to them. For example there are some businesses that aren’t set up to sell online or do not have a web presence. An upgraded listing in the Buyer’s Guide with a hyperlink to their website won’t be as valuable as it would be to a business that sells online.
You must be willing to walk away if there is not enough benefit at this time for an advertiser and if their “no” is final. However, always ask if you may put them in your calendar to follow up in three or six months when their business may be at a different stage and have a greater need for your advertising opportunities.
Offer incentives, not deals.
A deal is usually a package or discount that is available to everyone. Deals can often cheapen your brand when they are too frequent and too common. A better way to entice advertisers is to offer individually created, advertiser-specific, ad buy incentives. Find the right advertising mix for the advertiser and offer an incentive targeted to their business needs to help them be successful in their advertising with you.
Follow through and follow up.
After any deal is signed, make sure your processes include keeping the advertiser up-to-date through the lifecycle of their Buyer’s Guide listing. Consistent communication is crucial to advertiser satisfaction. Let the advertiser know how their ad is performing, what feedback you have heard from potential customers (or even co-workers), and provide any suggestions to improve their ad performance.
During your follow ups and performance reviews, start considering other valuable ways the advertiser can promote their business within the opportunities you have available. Start back at the beginning and re-visit the upsell opportunities that are best for their business.
Always treat advertisers as business partners, and offer consultative selling that is focused on their success. When your sales approach is consultative, advertisers will have more trust in your brand.