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The Market-Savvy Salesperson -- Part II

Posted on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 1:44 PM

Focus your sales pitches on the market and business needs of your advertisers.

By William Dunkerley

Today's competitive environment mandates the implementation of increasingly sophisticated sales approaches. With the rapid pace of change in how audiences consume information, advertisers are adjusting their buying priorities like never before. Sooner or later, selling advertising in the same old way will start bringing seriously diminishing returns.

The solution I've been advocating is to transform your sales staff into "market analysts." Sure, their objective will still be to sell advertising. But positioned as market analysts, salespeople will have a greater ability to be truly helpful to your advertisers, gain their trust, and thereby achieve a higher level of sales.

Last issue we examined how collecting reliable data on market seasonality can be instrumental. Armed with that info, your sales staff can advise advertisers when it would be profitable for them to double up on their ad placement. That gives your publication the chance to show your advertisers improved sales results.

How Advertisers Spend

Revenue is one thing. Another issue is how advertisers are spending their money overall. Are advertisers in the field you cover spending their money strategically?

So the next bit of work is to research the pattern of how the companies (advertisers) are spending their money. This is not just advertising expenditures, but all the expenses they incur month by month.

Here's some hypothetical data for that:

Sixteen-month seasonality of expense.

Unlike the revenue we examined earlier, expense shows smaller variation throughout the year.

Now it's time to put both graphs together using the smoothed data. Let's determine the relationship of revenue to expense.

Sixteen-month revenue vs. expense.

You can see that the variation in expense does appear to be less than that for revenue. However, it follows the same overall trend as revenue.

Thinking Strategically

There's one important thing this chart shows that should be valuable in creating responsive sales pitches.

It is that increases in spending seem to lag increases in sales.

In part that may be a result of direct costs in delivering on whatever was purchased to generate the increased revenue. But the spending lag may also indicate that a company's advertising expenditures are being responsive to sales increases instead of being proactive in light of a known seasonal pattern. Proactive ad spending increases could boost an advertiser's chances of gaining sales and market share during seasonal peaks.

This should give advertiser companies some insights that will be valuable in their cash-flow management, too.

Moving Forward

The foregoing business cycle research is but one example of how you can gather information that will increase the market acumen of your sales team. It will also provide a valuable resource to your advertisers.

There are other areas of research in which you can involve your readers. For example, survey them about buyer awareness of the companies on your advertiser and prospect lists. Buyer preference is another topic ripe for research.

Give these research topics a try. You'll increase the market expertise of your sales team and provide a loyalty-creating service for your advertisers as well.

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

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