In a Recession, Publishers Should ‘Treat Your Customers Like Strangers’
FOLIO: Show 2008: Tips for selling in a down economy.
CHICAGO—In an economic downturn, magazine sale staffs need to work harder and, more importantly, sell smarter.
“When a recession hits, a lot of things change,” Josh Gordon, president of Smart Media Sales, said during an afternoon session here called Making Your Numbers in a Down Economy. “Priorities are rearranged. Decision-making is realigned. You have to be on you guard and you should treat your territories, your customers, as if they are total strangers to you. You need to ask them how they are treating advertising in the recession.”
Gordon’s first point was to reprioritize accounts, advising salespeople to target what he called “slump star companies.” “These are companies, including small businesses, which make strategic investments in a down economy—when the competition is down, they expand,” he said. “They’re trimming product lines and are investing more money in marketing.
“These are the great prospects,” Gordon added. “Not only will these companies buy from you now but they will continue to buy from you when the recession is over.”
Magazine salespeople need to reconsider nearly every aspect of what they’re doing, Gordon said. They should rationalize and understand why customers are buying advertising, reevaluate customer trust and reevaluate their loyalty.
“Ask for the bad news. Ask how bad you are compared to the competition,” Gordon said. “That’s not something you’d do in good times, but, let’s not fool ourselves. Bring it up immediately and get it on the table.”
Gordon also suggested salespeople reinvent what they’re doing online and make sure they have a “fighting attitude.”
“Elite salespeople managed to sell even in during [the Great Depression],” he said. “How did they do it? That’s what you need to figure out for yourselves.”