Every day, your clients, and more importantly, prospects, meet with salespeople from magazines, broadcast, digital, direct mail, and other media who are equally as smart and prepared as you. Each claims strong connections to their audience, creative value-added propositions, pricing incentives and dedication to getting the client superior results. So, how do you win?

Closing the deal occurs at the point when the client believes that with all the salesperson’s efforts the return on the relationship (ROR) will exceed the cost. The best salespeople gain a competitive advantage by developing and continuously nurturing stronger, trusting relationships with each of their clients. Here are techniques you should master to gain a competitive advantage that will earn and retain your prospect’s trust and, eventually, business.


Your job is to share the most relevant data with your client and help her apply it to her business. Rather than start a sales call with the new promotion or what was discussed at the last sales meeting, share information that you have acquired that might benefit her business. When you provide useful ideas such as competitive insights, a new social media tip, or an article you came across, the prospect will feel that meeting with you was already worth her valuable time. You demonstrated that you are sincerely trying to help her, whether she buys an ad today or not.


Your industry knowledge and product expertise are assets. If a client’s message or strategy will not be effective in your environment explain why you think that she should consider another approach. Speaking up demonstrates your expertise and differentiates you from your competition. Be brave and disagree.


Most buyers factor intuition or subjectivity into their decision-making process. Asserting that your product is superior and backing it up with evidence won’t necessarily win you the business. Ultimately, you are selling unique audiences and engagement. Providing "the why" is best done through storytelling and vivid descriptions of your audience. In local media it is more about the engagement than just the size of the audience.


If you make it a habit of introducing your client to people who can improve her operation-strategic partners, vendors, local organizations, networking groups, etc.-this can be as valuable as the results they get from an ad.


As a salesperson your first objective is to earn the person’s trust and to offer them the best counsel you can, even if it doesn’t lead to a sale. Before you pick up the phone, walk in the door or write the email, have an answer to the question, "How am I going to increase the ROR from this contact?" Give before you present. There is always something that you can offer that will build trust.

We in the media business are living through very challenging times. Clients have more options to get their message out than ever before. That means you are being compared to many other sales professionals equally as capable as you. You need to make a commitment to find every way to help your clients generate a superior return from their relationship with you and your product. Devote all your energies and creativity to achieving this goal through direct support of your clients. Your competitive advantage is to build the rapport with the individual so that she believes you are as concerned about her business as she is. That is how you will win.

David L. Miller is CEO of Davler Media Group, New York City’s largest and most diversified regional media company, producing print, digital and event properties serving the visitor, parenting, luxury and design markets. Contact him at dmiller@davlermedia.com.


Check out this related session at The Folio: Show, November 1-2 in NYC!