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5 Ways to Blow an Ad Sale

Posted on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 10:48 PM

Follow this prescriptive advice. It's guaranteed to prevent any advertiser from succeeding in signing an ad order.

By William Dunkerley

If you want to avoid receiving more advertising revenue, here's a five-step program:


The first way to blow an ad sale is to make sure you have no one to sell to. No prospect, no sale. Right? But what if you're stuck with existing accounts? Many are going to place an ad order no matter what you do. There's no chance to blow a sale there. New prospects are a different thing. If you don't prospect and cold call, all you've got to deal with is a future sale. And the best way to blow one of them is to avoid finding a prospect. That means no cold calling. This is the first rule of blowing an ad sale. Don't prospect for one in the first place.


If you err in #1 and end up with the ear of a prospect, tell him or her about your publication. Say how great it is. Use a lot of superlatives. Talk about the proud history of the publication. Be boastful. Lay it on thick. Go into excruciating detail.


Explain what a good salesperson you are. Point out what a fantastic sales record you have. Give examples of prominent advertisers that you've sold.


Don't let the prospect get a word in edgewise. After all, you're there to sell space, not to listen to the problems that the advertiser is having.


If all of the foregoing have failed, the trick of last resort is to simply not ask for the order. That will stymie things even if you've got someone who, despite your best efforts, seems interested in placing an ad. But be quick at this point, because the advertiser might speak up and ask to place an order. Before that happens, tell the prospect that you've got to take an urgent call, and then just hang up.

But If You Don't Want to Blow a Sale?

The truth of the matter is that if you want greater ad sales, you've got to do a lot of cold calling. Even if you are fairly satisfied with your present level of sales, you still must prospect. Advertisers are not forever. Some may leave the field you're in, others may go over to your competition, and still others might go out of business.

Don't start a sales presentation by talking about your publication. Whenever I hear someone start a sales presentation by saying, "Let me tell you something about our publication," I know that this person is off to a bad start. Frankly, just by itself, your publication is worth nothing to an advertiser. A better way to start is to express interest in the advertiser's business. If the advertiser sees that you are genuinely interested in his business, you'll be off to a better start. Advertisers are more interested in themselves than they are in your magazine.

A corollary to that is that the advertiser isn't really interested in how good a salesperson you think you are. Talking about yourself is just another example of a me-oriented approach to selling. It's not a very good idea.

Some of the most successful sales presentations occur when the salesperson skillfully gets the prospect to talk about her own business freely. In that way you can learn about what the advertiser's needs and interests are. Armed with that knowledge, you can formulate your own pitch. So instead of force-feeding the advertiser with a description of the features of your publication, you can describe it as a targeted solution for whatever problems or needs the advertiser has disclosed. In that way your publication will be seen as a source of solution, a real benefit for the advertiser.

And always go for a close. No matter how badly you think the advertiser is responding to your conversation, ask for the order. If that seems like a bad idea to you, consider that you may be misperceiving the level of the prospect's interest or you may be misinterpreting cautiousness as a failure to be convincing on your part. Don't engage in that kind of mind reading. Sometimes when a salesperson is expecting an unsuccessful close, he may try to spare himself the unpleasant feeling of overt failure by ending the conversation without asking for the order. But more success will come from ignoring rejection anxiety and going for a close. Always, always, always ask for the order!

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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