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Media: 5 post-pandemic sales tips

As things slowly get back to normal, publishers are expecting strong performances from their media sales teams. Martin Maynard has some advice for salespeople returning to the fray…

By Martin Maynard

Media: 5 post-pandemic sales tips

Okay, let’s slowly and gently exercise those neck and shoulder muscles. Done? Next, let’s take a few deep breaths. Why? Because it is time to start making a dent in those sales targets! Oh, and guess what? The world has changed. So, we’re going to have to switch things up…

In my last sales post, ‘Media: It’s OK to sell in a crisis’, I said ‘people who choose to work in media sales are by nature hardy, quick to adapt to new situations, innovative and optimistic – perfect for any crisis!’ – I stand by that.

However, the majority of sales teams have either been severely depleted or furloughed throughout the global pandemic. Following a hiatus which for some has lasted twelve months, the prospect of returning to the sales frontline can be a daunting one. But return we must!

Whether you are simply looking to freshen things up or hit the ground running when you return to work, here are a few tips – habits, if you will – that will help you to achieve better results:

1. Start bright and early.

Decision-makers often begin the day early, so should you. Whether you are hoping to start a conversation, put a meeting in the diary or close a deal, an early ‘nudge’ to someone who is facing a day of back-to-back Zoom calls is often welcome*. If you are working across multiple time zones adjust accordingly but early still works. Period.

2. Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.

Like an actor about to take the stage or a boxer about to step into the ring – it’s showtime, be ready! If you plan to start your day with phone work, make sure you are physically and mentally prepared before you dial. If listening to music and singing along is your thing, do it. If it’s a cup of strong coffee and a chat with some colleagues, fine. Be organised. Focus. Visualise. Practise your initial calls. Smash it!

3. Listen. Understand. Advise.

Be prepared to take the majority of what you knew about your customers and prospects pre-pandemic and throw it in the trash! The temptation is to prioritise a quick sale over everything else. Don’t! Customers and prospects are likely to have new priorities – make sure that you listen and understand what they are asking for now. Pre-pandemic a customer may have been satisfied with a branding and awareness campaign, now they may be looking to put lead-generation as a priority. Be part of the solution and you will win the business for the long term.

4. It’s all about discipline.

Everyone who works in sales has good and bad days, it’s par for the course. What differentiates success from failure can often come down to one sales virtue: discipline. There may be a tonne of reasons why cold-calling prospects on a rainy November afternoon isn’t working for you. Good sense will guide you to swap it out for another task for a while. Discipline will help you to return to it with a fresh approach and a winning formula.

5. Be humble. Be supportive. Be kind.

Pressure selling doesn’t work. Sure, it may get you a result but, it smacks of short-termism. In professional media sales, we are usually building relationships for the long term. Being empathetic, treating the person on the call as a human being isn’t a weakness, it is a profound and highly desirable sales skill. It doesn’t run counter to good sales technique either, it’s just a different – and I would argue more apt – approach, especially when set against the backdrop of widespread disruption and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Be relatable, avoid being pushy!

*Pro tip: An early ‘nudge’ doesn’t always have to be a telephone call. Where appropriate, it may be more effective to send a WhatsApp message or DM via a social channel. In some cases, the act of an early post on social media such as a sales deadline reminder may in itself solicit the desired response.

"...extensive experience of working in the media and publishing sectors..."

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