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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Avoid Setting Too-High Expectations in Media Sales


Oops. In your enthusiasm to close the sale, did you promise the car dealer or medi-spa owner that the advertising for their grand opening will bring so many people that they will be lined up around the block? In your energetic attempt to close the deal, did you tell the roofing or HVAC company that their phone will “ring off the hook”?

What happens when there aren’t lines around the block and the phone doesn’t ring off the hook?

Your credibility has been destroyed along with trust. How can this all-too-often occurrence be avoided?

By contracting expectations. To level-set expectations you need to think and act like a marketer and not a salesperson. Critical to this shift, you need to engage your client in questions about their consumer’s behavior: open-ended questions that will paint a picture about their ideal customer. 

Marketer Questions

  • Where do your customers shop first before buying from you?
  • Where else might they look?
  • What do your customers mention about your competitors in person or on the phone?
  • How often do your customers visit your website before shopping with you?
  • Where does your company show up in a Google search in your category?

This is just a sample of how your questioning needs to pivot to learn all you can about your client’s prized customer.

The reason a company advertises is not to change consumer behavior but to benefit from knowing what that behavior is.

Consumer Behavior

There are some basic consumer behaviors that the client may or may not be aware of. And if they are not aware, it’s your opportunity to engage and educate.

The Academy of Marketing has written on this topic in a user-friendly way. A target consumer is the most likely buyer, but in reality this person isn’t always ready to “buy now.” About 95% of consumers fall into this category. They may be thinking about buying a car or getting a new roof or hot water heater, but they are not ready to buy now. Consequently, advertising offers don’t strike a chord with these people. A great deal on a new roof doesn’t resonate unless you need a new roof. A great deal on a hot water heater doesn’t register unless you are in the market for a hot water heater.

The consumer who is ready to buy begins focused research behavior. These consumers represent only 5% of people who are at any given time in the market to buy something. The reason to advertise is to start building a relationship with the potential buyer, and this is a longer term proposition. The reason to advertise is to become “top of mind” with the consumer when they are in the transactional or buying mode.

The prize for the advertiser is when Roger’s Roofing or Henry’s HVAC shows up near the top in a Google search. And that’s why advertising can be a marathon and not a sprint. It’s important to discuss this buying cycle with your client. Not being in the market to buy now and being ready to buy is an important distinction.

People may not be lined up around the block, and the phone may not ring off the hook, but doesn’t your client want to be top of mind when the consumer is ready to buy?

More Appointments, More Sales, More Revenue


Topics: setting expectations Sales