The Secrets of Selling Business Directory Advertising – PART 1 PLANNING

Business Directory

Have you ever met a business directory advertising salesperson confident that you were going to either reduce or even cancel your advertising, only to find yourself renewing or even increasing your advertising spend?

As an ex-salesperson and ex-sales trainer for some of the largest global advertising businesses around, I have not only turned many customers from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ over the years but also helped many other salespeople to do the same.  How you ask?  Well, through the use of a proven, simple & effective sales process that helps to guide a customer through a logical thought process when considering purchasing advertising in a business directory.

Like everything in life there are good salespeople and not so good salespeople, and it is really only the good people you need to watch out for as they will typically use this selling process to enable them to fully control the sale to great effect whilst making the meeting seem like a relaxed conversation.

So how do salespeople sell?

I’ll be breaking down the typical sales process of a salesperson over a number of separate blogs to help you understand just what they are trying to do to you during your sales call, and importantly, why they are trying to do it (thus helping you to keep some control of the meeting).  The selling process is relevant for both Telesales & Fieldsales, however there will be subtle differences which I’ll point out as we go along.

So let’s start with the first, and often most overlooked step of a sales call:


The end we aim at must be known, before the way can be made.  (Jean Paul 1763 – 1825)

The first step of a good salesperson’s process is planning.  Many salespeople ignore this step to ‘save time’ to their detriment, however, the better salespeople will religiously plan for every sales call because they know it is the backbone of their sale.  Effective planning will help them to hold a relevant conversation with you about your business and your industry, and this will help the conversation to be engaging whilst also helping them to build an early business relationship with you.

Think of a time when you’ve met with a salesperson and they have had no knowledge of your business or your industry and how very early in the meeting you wanted the sales person to leave!

Good & relevant planning enables a business directory salesperson to prepare in advance many areas in order to help them in their sales call such as:

–          Understanding your competition (what they do and where they advertise).

–          Where you currently advertise and your current advertising spend.

–          Your range of products and services and current areas of focus or expertise.

–          Your typical target market, i.e. the type of customers you are looking to attract, demographically (ABC 1’s) as well as broadly (B2B).

–          Your geographical coverage.

–          Possible objections that you may raise during the sale and the best way to overcome them.

–          General industry / marketplace knowledge, i.e. what is happening in your world and what are your current pressures and opportunities?

In advertising, the time spent in this area will typically be linked to the size of your business or your current account with them, and the majority of the above information will usually be gleaned from your website, competitor websites and search engines such as Google.

For Telesales or for very small existing accounts, planning is still important, however as many Telesales people will also be targeted on productivity areas such as dial rates, connects, grossed orders etc, their depth of planning will often be lighter.

So how do salespeople use all this pre-prepared information in a sales call with you?

The answer is subtly!

For a salesperson, a simple thing like ‘doing your homework’ can reap big rewards for them and can often either save or increase your advertising spend.

Knowing what you need before you do!

Whilst strong salespeople will never assume they know what you need, they will prepare a good mental picture of what you potentially could buy and a supporting argument for it in advance of the call.  That way, if they find no new information from you or are met with a bit of a brick wall conversationally, they have somewhere to go to keep the sale moving along positively.

They will also try to identify any areas within your business that they think they can potentially expose as opportunities to increase your advertising spend in their business directory or advertising service.  Therefore they will plan questions in advance to ensure they get the information they need during the sales call.

I’ve got an answer for that!

Good sales people are not particularly phased by your objections or concerns and will appear confidently cool when talking them through with you.  This is again down to planning as they have already considered the type of issues that you could raise, and have thought through a range of responses to alleviate your concerns there and then.

Creating a fear of loss!

Having a good understanding of your marketplace, your industry and what your competitors are doing within your target market and geographic area can also help the salesperson to create a strong desire to purchase advertising through the fear of losing business by not keeping up with everyone else.  This pre-planned knowledge can often be used to great effect at the close of a sale to justify the cost to the customer.

So hopefully you can now see how important planning is to a salesperson, and the help it gives them when they are selling you advertising in their business directory or advertising service.  This blog should also help you to better understand why sales people plan prior to your visit, and how they apply that knowledge during the sales call to help them to control the call and ultimately retain or increase your ad spend with them.

But is doesn’t end there, once they have planned for their call or sales visit the next important part of their sale is the ‘introduction’ which I shall be covering on my next blog.