Go All “Ad Sales Old School” with Face-to-face Calling!


We know it sounds crazy, but making ad sales calls in person can set you apart from the pack!

Everyone in ad sales complains about clients and prospects not returning emails or phone calls. You think,  “Are they not interested?” or “Do they not like me?

The answer is…….mostly they are just busy. If they answered every e-mail or phone call they receive from an ad sales person, they wouldn’t get anything done. Prospects may very well be interested. You just need to figure out how to get their attention.

How do you do that? Go “old school” on them and make a call in person at their office or have lunch. It makes a world of difference and makes you stand out because your competition is only doing the email or phone call deal.

In days of old (as in the early ’80’s) when I started selling, all ad sales calls were in person. I know it’s hard to believe now, but that’s how it was done. So I decided to change it up and I started making phone calls–when all the old time sales guys would never think of selling on the phone. And it worked! I actually made myself stand out because I used the phone to sell. I swear I’m not making this up.

Today there is less and less in person, face-to-face selling. Once again, you need to think counter-intuitively and make yourself stand out. The in person selling tactic really works now. Why? Because it’s so much easier and more meaningful to build a relationship and have a real conversation in person.

I know, most publishers are going to say, “I can’t afford to send my ad sales people on the road on all the time.” But do the math! My experience with new prospects is that 5% advertise from the phone/e-mail approach. And about 50% of new prospects go in with face-to-face selling. I can see 5 or 6 prospects and clients in one day. That’s a lot of contracts.

Publishers–you can’t afford NOT to send your sales team out on the road!!!


Carl LandauAbout the blogger: Carl Landau is Grand Poobah of Niche Media. He is a media/event guru, SF Giants fan and part-time blogger. His 15 minutes of fame took place in the mid-eighties when he launched his famous, “Buy an Ad, Get a Cat” ad campaign. He has long since patched things up with the SPCA. Check out the all new NicheEventFest this fall in New Orleans.


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  1. Doug Kempf says:

    I think and have done this for 17 years. You should be outside making cold calls/prospecting with tape recorder in car and all your tools. But I think what works the best is 50 percent of the time out and about and 50 percent by email/phone. Also depends what your selling which kind of advertising.

    My big thing is companies outside of the Clear Channels of the world do not pay people to run around in their cars. So people stay in the office and do the computer and phone over running in their cars all day.
    If companies would start paying sales people something besides 8-10 percent commission they might see more sales. But yes you have to be out and about a couple of days a week for sure.


  2. Carl:

    You bring up an interesting point here. I do think there is a place for face-to-face calling for sure. The challenge is getting the opportunity to make that in-person call. I would suggest in today’s busy world a salesperson has to earn the right to a face-to-face meeting. The willingness to meet in person is not differentiation enough. To get a face-to-face meeting the salesperson has do something to stand out in the prospect’s mind, something that breaks the ice so they know who you are and something that establishes some credibility for how you work with your customers.

    There are many ways to do this like a compelling letter of introduction that includes a Valid Business Reason tailored to the prospect. Referrals are very strong. A Personal Marketing Resume that details the salesperson’s past success helping clients can also do both things. In person is always preferred, but you have to work hard to break through a prospect’s busy schedule with compelling reasons they should see you. Researching your prospect and preparing a tailored approach can get you face-to-face.

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