Five Tips for Better Sales Meetings
From an agency vet.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read more at FOLIO:’s Magazine Marketing Excellence Channel
Even with fierce competition from increasingly targeted cable offerings, the instant mass market reach of network television and encroachment of digital offerings popping up everywhere, magazines continue to offer a relevant environment, engaged readers, a variety of value-added options and, increasingly, multi-platform packages that include digital, video and/or cable.
In this heightened content-driven environment, it’s more important than ever that magazine sales management is focused on what will inform and result in a most productive agency interaction.
In that spirit, here are five things to remember for more productive meetings and sales success.
1. Be Prepared
Preparation should include researching past relationships that the agency’s client may have had with the publication, such as whether the client has advertised with the magazine in the past and if not, why. Understand the agency’s client list, and identify those that are most appropriate for your publication.
As content providers, it is important to understand not only the print portion of a client’s media support, but all aspects—so you can come to the agency with multi-platform opportunities. If you haven’t been at the magazine long, chances are that someone, the publisher, ad director or another sales person may have some history that would be helpful.
2. Know Your Audience
Use syndicated research to help you understand the client’s competitive set as well as who the brand’s target audience might be. That effort can help the sales and marketing teams create innovative and relevant ideas using all of the magazines assets to achieve the client’s media objectives.
Understand the marketplace reality of the client’s product and category. Do a search for information. Check the client‘s web site. Visit retail outlets, the supermarket, department store or auto dealership. This will keep you from trying to sell the agency on buying pages in the winter when the client’s peak selling season is summer!
Involve the online sales team and the corporate group. Strong, strategic multi-platform packages are the best way to grow business, for the brand, the title and the publishing company.
3. Build Relationships
Strong relationships take time to develop. Keep the appropriate people at the agency up to date on what’s happening with your title, applying a relevancy filter, to ensure that you’re giving them information that is most applicable to their clients.
Give the agency team plenty of advance notice of any special projects, promotions and other activities being planned by your title.
And most of all remember that it’s not just about this client and this agency relationship. As with everything else in business, chances are that your paths will cross again at some point. A good history ensures a good future.
4. Be Responsive
Be responsive to serious agency requests. Understand their timing, and if what was asked for isn’t readily available or the timing is unreasonable, be sure to let the person who made the request know this in a timely manner. Keep your responses brief and to the point—your time as well as the agency’s is valuable.
Strong relationships require a give and take; understanding what your agency partners need and responding to those needs with practical and on-target ideas will increase your chances for success.
5. Address Accountability Throughout
Rich analytics available for internet advertising has raised the accountability bar for all other media. Broadcasters have responded with commercial ratings and are moving towards other relevant measures. While magazines have always taken pride in understanding their readers’ behavior, it is imperative that this understanding be shared in a meaningful way with agency partners.
Agencies are held accountable for not only accurate delivery of a buy (pricing and positioning), but increasingly in the area of return on investment. This can take many forms, and your title must be on the leading edge of advanced accountability measures. Readership studies, positioning research, direct response metrics, awareness modeling—all of these and more are part of today’s implementation currency. In finding those relevant metrics, and building them into your title’s offering, you will be ensuring not only today’s sale, but tomorrow’s renewal.
Incorporating these five points into your agency and client sales calls will lead to stronger client/agency/title relationships—and isn’t that ultimately what we all want?