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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

5 Lessons I Learned as an Ad Salesperson and as an Ad Buyer

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I have had the rare pleasure of being on both sides of the advertising desk, both as an advertising salesperson and sales manager, and as an ad buyer at a marketing agency.

For 15 years, I sold and managed for radio stations in Dallas and Chicago and loved every single minute of it. Radio was my career, my hobby, my passion. I never thought that I would ever leave radio. Then one day, an “advertising guy” called me and wanted to take me to breakfast.

I spent the next 6 years as the Vice President of Business Development for a mid-size full-service advertising agency in the suburbs of Chicagoland. The ad agency side has been an incredible adventure. I had direct access to clients and had become the consultant that I was trained to be in radio. I worked hand-in-hand with the client as we grew their businesses together. No longer was I an adversary, but truly a marketing partner. 

Here are some of the secrets that I've learned from being on the “other-side-of-the desk”: 

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales media

Seems Like Everyone is Under Investigation

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If you are paying attention to the news, you may have noticed that lots of people are under investigation from both sides of the political spectrum. The dictionary definition of investigation is “a formal inquiry or systematic study.”

While running a workshop last week, I was reminded of the power of a salesperson when they slip into investigation mode. That systematic process is the key to building trust and demonstrating value in the early stages of a relationship.

No matter what you are selling, you should go far beyond just needs analysis or selling features and benefits of your product or service. You want to have a business conversation, looking for a desired business result that you can help them accelerate. 

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

5 Ways to Nail the Needs Analysis Conversation

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Once you have an appointment with a strong prospect, it’s time to prepare for a successful needs analysis so all the effort you spent getting the appointment isn’t wasted. You want to make sure that you have a strong and thorough needs analysis—because understanding your prospect's business, specific needs, challenges, and expectations is essential to developing a solution that will achieve results.

Topics: Needs Analysis successful sales meetings Sales

In Your Sales Strategy, Are You Psyched Up For the Close?

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Will that “moment of truth” be looming in the next meeting with your prospect – the meeting where you look him or her in the eye and ask for the order? Or, will the next meeting be the one where you confirm the details to implement your plan... because, the prospect already knows most of what is in your proposal (they helped you build it), the price range, and most of what it’s going to take to buy your solution? I hope it’s the latter.

Topics: Proposal valid business reason Needs Analysis sales strategy sales performance Sales

How Do You Tantalize a Prospect?

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Is a prospect’s first impression of you a list of bold claims about your product and how superior it is to competing products? I hope not. It’s boring to the prospect. You see, dangling product in front of a prospect is usually ineffective for many reasons:

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

The Magic of Establishing Value

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One of the best things about spending time in the field coaching my account managers is that I tend to come away with some great lessons myself! With Andrew’s permission, I’d like to share one of my takeaways from an appointment on his in-field day, and that is this: 

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

A Silver Bullet Needs Analysis Question

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A few months ago I was working with our client in Los Angeles and the managers were telling me they had a feeling their salespeople were not unearthing all the needs they should in their client needs analysis process. They cited a number of instances where the Account Executive did go deep enough and huge opportunities emerged for both the prospect and my client. They wanted to see that happening more often. After exploring the problem in more detail, I made several recommendations. One of those turned out to be particularly impactful.

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

Trouble is Your Friend

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Last weekend I set out on mission to Home Depot. Lately, I have found myself involved in a number of short projects around the house, and I had come to two conclusions:

  1. Having a portable light would be very handy.
  2. Even though I have a portable light, it requires a wall plug and I’d rather not haul around a bulky light with a large orange cord and then seek an outlet.

I knew from keeping a casual eye on technology that LEDs and even some of the new efficient fluorescent bulbs put out plenty of light on battery power that lasts a long time. Sure enough, I accomplished my mission. Ten minutes and $31 later, I had my problem solved. I have already used it twice and it works well!

I bet this story doesn’t surprise you at all. You set out to solve problems in your life all the time, and often find good solutions, right? So when it comes time to approach a prospect, why do so many of us forget one of the most fundamental rules about capturing someone’s attention? It begins with identifying a potential problem within the business that needs attention. Otherwise, why would the prospect pay attention to you? The bottom line is that people only buy when there is a discrepancy between what they need to happen and what is actually happening. Motivated prospects are usually in one of two modes:

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales prospecting

How to Ask Better Needs Analysis Questions

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Have you ever set a goal for yourself to run a race? Whatever the motivation, you decided to do it. It may have been on a whim, but nonetheless you realized there was more to it than showing up the morning of the race and running. You probably found a race that suited your ability, recruited a friend to join you in the adventure, set a training schedule, and off you went. By no means did you show up for registration the morning of with no prep at all. Well, I hope not anyway. If you did, it probably didn’t go as well as you would have liked. You may have looked back and asked yourself what you could have done differently to change the outcome. I’m guessing the answer is, almost always, more training so you were better prepared.

Running a race without adequate training is no different than showing up to a first time meeting with a new prospect unprepared. Yet, it happens. Preparing yourself to ask better needs analysis questions will help you not only finish the race, but to finish with the intended outcome: to get an assignment from the prospect.  

Where to start? Here are a few suggestions for how to ask better needs analysis questions.

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

The Magic Behind a Successful Key Account Growth Plan is You!

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‘Tis the Season! The Walmart countdown displays in the seasonal section of their stores were up and counting down before Halloween was over. That irks me for a number of reasons, but it also motivates me. I need to finalize my growth plans for next year… and so do you!

Topics: customer satisfaction key account growth Needs Analysis annual planning sales strategy Sales