Two key ideas that could dramatically improve your advertising sales success


On purposeRecently, J.W. Najarian decided to follow my Twitter feed ( Intrigued, I reviewed his ¬†On Purpose Magazine, and discovered an incredible collection of podcast interviews with a diversity of successful¬†individuals. The interview that captured my attention — and should yours — specifically relates to advertising sales, and the interview subject, the late Chet Holmes, offered two fundamental and extremely simple routes to advertising sales success.

Holmes, before dying from Leukemia, described how he built a tiny regional lawyers’ magazine owned by Warren Buffet’s organization into a 500-page powerhouse, with two simple concepts.

  1. Focus on the key potential clients. These are the ones, he says, who can “change your life” — the largest, most powerful, and most influential potential advertisers. Then, begin a strategy to reach out to these key potential clients strategically, with planned marketing pieces and phone communication, perhaps including small gifts and invitations. (You might want to look at Jon Goldman’s Lumpy Mail concept for some premium ideas.)
  2. Deliver real value and information to your potential clients, with knowledge and insights they can use. For example, he said, he learned from his own magazine which advertisers achieved the highest results and which approaches would work best.Then, he said. he called potential clients and offered these insights (usually with a number attached, like “four ways that you can absolutely achieve double your response and closing rate within 10 months” and added a line, “I’ll be sharing this information with your major competitors (named) and would like you to have the opportunity to hear this information, as well.”

Now these techniques require discipline, patience, and sincerity. When you are selling major national advertisers, the decision-makers probably won’t return your first, or second, or even third call or communication. So you need a strategic sequence, that you will follow. (Holmes said he set up a system where sales reps had 12 distinctive steps to follow, so each time they received a “no” they could move on to the next one.) Then you must deliver the goods. Obviously, the wrong thing to do is to promise insights and knowledge and real information to obtain an appointment, and then fall into a standard sales pitch. Your goal is to win trust and respect and, when you do this right, you’ll have your clients asking you which of your competitors they should include in their media purchasing plans.

Holmes used the interview to pitch a business-growth training/coaching program he operated with Tony Robbins. He used the educational free offer, celebrity endorsements, and targeted marketing to reach the right audience — with the message that if you applied the principals he taught, you would succeed in business. He emphasised the importance of accountability, and putting some skin into the game. In other words, paying for advice and following up is vital for success.

Nothing is forever. Holmes is dead now and (in his interview with Najarian) he said the magazine he had built into a 500-page success is now just a 22 page pamphlet. But some advice is timeless. While you might not buy into the Tony Robbins rah rah (see my observations about Brian Tracy here), you can still apply the concepts outlined in this hour-long audio to your sales practices. No need to purchase expensive training programs; and a reminder that good health is something we should never take for granted. You will learn a lot, however, if you give this audio the hour it needs.