Ad Sales: Are You Losing a Client to the Competition?


Ad sales superstar Nancy O’Brien tells us how to keep a client on track…and not sign with the other guys!

You’re smoothly sailing along, knowing how to take care of your client and making your sales goals. Then all of a sudden, it seems like they somehow perceive your competition as a better fit! Yikes! Unsure how to proceed? Thinking that maybe you’ve lost the client and should move on?

Think again! We chatted up ad sales superstar Nancy O’Brien to find out how to re-direct this client’s misguided perceptions and get your advertiser back on track…with YOU.

NMHQ:  If your prospect thinks your competition is a better fit, what kinds of questions can you ask them to learn why they want to do business elsewhere?

Nancy O:

“Selling always starts with a series of questions to the customer to make sure you understand their market, their target customer, their goals and their budget.  If your media reaches their target customer and you can create a campaign within their budget, then you should be able to close the business. The key is completely understanding your products and even more, understanding the competition.  After you have demonstrated that you can help them achieve their goals, and reach the right audience within their budget, if they still think the competition is a better fit, you need to ask them why. And then answer those objections head on.”

NMHQ:  Is there an optimum way to present your data in this situation?

Nancy O: 

“If the customer prefers the competition because of price, show them Cost Per Thousand (CPM) by their specific target customer. If they think their circulation is better, show both your circulation statement and theirs.  Point out their weaknesses.  Then talk about advertising as being so much more than circulation–it’s about readership. Show them your most recent readership study.”

NMHQ:  What are 3 ways an ad sales pro can re-direct their perceptions?

Nancy O:

“First, the sales person should ask specific questions about any given perception (objection). I recommend always answering an objection with a question that makes them think. Second, I like to use terms like, “Can we both agree that…” and start to get their agreement on smaller points as you work toward getting their agreement on the larger points that will close the sale.  Finally, if you know that your media is a better (or at least as good) fit for their advertising investment, you need to say it with conviction and sincerity. Clients tend to buy from people who really believe in their product and who genuinely want to help them.”


Editor’s note: Want to learn more? Nancy is leading the session Camp Niche 2.1 Ad Sales Training at the Niche Digital Conference this fall in Savannah.



More about Nancy: Nancy O’Brien works for Aviation International News as Associate Publisher and ad sales superstar. She also co-teaches the Camp Niche Ad Sales Jamboree. She’s a b-to-b publishing vet and previously worked at Petroleum Engineer, Oil & Gas Journal, and Electric Light & Power.


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau–Niche Media’s Grand Poobah–also created a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events:  Check it out!

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