The 2021 Digital Revenue Summit, from Local Media Association, offered 14 live conversations across an array of topics to enlighten and support digital revenue strategies across local media. The three sessions in the Digital Sales Specialists track, sponsored by AdCellerant, featured insights from experts in selling digital, from the top of the sales cycle to maintaining rich relationships with clients that entices them to expand their buy.
Here are some of the top takeaways digital sales specialists should know to meet and exceed their goals.
The top of the sales cycle
During this Summit session, four experts shared a fresh look at leading activities of digital sales: lead generation, prospecting, calls, needs analysis, proposals and demos.
Presenters included Lenora Howze, executive director, The AFRO, Baltimore; Willy Grant, director, digital, Great West Media; and Shannon Kinney, founder and client success officer, DreamLocal Digital. The panel was moderated by Jodelle Bailey, director, local digital sales, Sinclair Digital.
Look in-house for leads, Grant said, including in the internal customer relationship management system. Then explore listings from the chamber of commerce, and local and regional directories such as online versions of Yellow Pages. Paid advertisers in online directory listings let you know who’s already advertising and can spark the initial outreach.
Howze cited a quote from Brian Tracy: Remember, you are solving a problem, not selling a product. She said preparation is key to having a good conversation with a prospect. She also when making a sales prospecting call to think through your talking points for that prospect; the person just might answer the phone!
Be persistent, Kinney said, citing research that shows 80% of sales are made after the fifth to 12th contact attempt. But 92% of reps don’t make it to the fifth call attempt.
Kinney also discussed the importance of a strategic cadence of communication with a highly personalized touch, even asking if the communication is too frequent to get a “no.” She recommends her method of implementing a sales circle of romance to get leads to think about your offerings.
Sales is a contact sport
A robust discussion with sales leaders across the industry offered thoughts for sales reps to prepare for interactions with clients.
Panelists included Michelle Liddy, director of digital sales, Allen Media Broadcasting; Amber Aldrich, senior director of advertising, The Seattle Times; Michael Martoccia, vice president, digital sales and marketing, Adams Publishing Group; and Peter Lamb, owner, Lamb Consulting.
A session attendee asked: How do you teach sales reps to earn the trust of their customers? The panel had a few ideas.
Aldrich emphasized that it’s critical to ask thoughtful questions in the presales process and offer value upfront. She said The Seattle Times has had success with “vertical experts” — reps that have deep knowledge of a business/industry category, are passionate about it, and can speak the customer’s language.
It’s also important for clients to believe a sales rep is enthusiastic and authentically interested in their business’ success, she said, and that there’s an expert team in the media company working with the client toward a common goal.
Lamb said the goal of questioning clients is to provoke and educate them, and teach them why they need to advertise.
Liddy said educating clients helps build trust and can make them comfortable with the products and understanding the results. “Often clients we’ve seen have been burned,” she said, by unsuccessful campaigns. She advised to leave clients with knowledge and help them have confidence in their decisions to advertise.
Martoccia said Adams Publishing Group uses its significant library of case studies to show clients the success of others in the same industry to prove they can replicate outcomes. Sales leaders direct reps to their own evidence of success to help overcome objections.
Sold! Now what?
Reporting is the key to client retention. That message from speakers was loud and clear throughout the Digital Revenue Summit, and especially in the “Sold! Now what?” session for digital sales specialists. Experts looked at techniques for checking in with clients on campaign performance, how to explain the whole story from different performance metrics, ways to adapt digital programs to deal with underperformance or changing client needs.
Presenters included Brock Berry, chief executive officer, Adcellerant; Jodelle Bailey, director, local digital sales, Sinclair Digital; and Helen Speiser, director of digital sales, Pixelent (WBNS, Columbus, Ohio). Julia Campbell, general manager, The Branded Content Project, moderated.
- If you don’t start with a good marketing plan and analysis of client needs up front, there’s no way to make up for it after the campaign’s done.
- Don’t just send the report. Have a monthly in-person or video conference with clients to go over campaign performance. If video, turn your camera on!
- Reporting bad news to a client: Don’t think about it as telling a client their baby is ugly. Take ownership. It’s more like OUR baby is ugly, and here’s what we can do together about it.
- Setting routine check-ins (every other week, even weekly for new clients) helps make the client feel important. It’s a solid foundation for ongoing campaign communication.
- Does an ad client have community/social impact projects? Show support by volunteering to help.
- If something just isn’t working in a client’s campaign, be honest about it and use it as a client education opportunity — go over the why.
Berry led a mini-master class in how to walk through campaign analytics with clients. He started with broad metrics, then shifted into details: geographies, top performing channels, device type, and other metrics all tied to the client’s goals.
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