How to Prepare for the First Call to an Ad Sales Prospect


Carl’s top 5 tips on preparation for that first ad sales call will help you make a great first impression with your prospects.

First impressions are important in all facets of our life. First impressions are even more crucial in the ad sales game. How you come across in that first ad sales call will have a major effect on the way a new prospect views you.

You can be viewed as a typical ad sales person that just wants to talk about their publication and sell a quick ad.


You can present yourself as an industry expert who really is interested in the prospect’s business and wants to help market their product or service. The key to this consultative sales approach is in the preparation.

Here’s Carl’s top 5 ideas on preparing for success on the first call:

1. Prepare fast! I’ve seen ad sales people spend and hour or more preparing for a call to a new prospect. But if you spend an hour per call, how many calls can you make? Not many. You need to be making A LOT of calls. So give yourself 10 minutes at most to prepare for the call. I do this all in the afternoon before my calls the next morning.

2. Get a referral ready: In advance of all this, secure a referral from a key person who knows your prospect. Maybe I’ve met them at a tradeshow, or I know someone who knows them and has suggested I call. Or I found a mutual contact on LinkedIn that can make the referral. This is really important because chances are 3 times better the prospect will make the time for you if you have that referral. I actually put the referral in my initial email setting up the call. Here’s an example: Subject line: Dan–Julie Smith sent me to you!

3. Use this valuable resource: LinkedIn is an incredible resource in preparing for ad sales calls. You can view your prospect’s profile, see how long they’ve been at the company, mutual contacts, where else they’ve worked, where they went to school, and a ton of other helpful info. All this info is very helpful in making the initial conversation natural, fun and about common interests and people. (After the call, I always request that they be a LinkedIn friend. I’d say 80% of the time they accept).

4. Research: Make the time to research the company via their website. You would think this is basic, but I am always surprised how many times a salesperson does not do this before calling or meeting. Seriously. And Googling what others have said about the product and service they offer can help you learn more about the prospect’s business and what some of their challenges are. This will prove to them that you’re interested and know a lot about their operation on the very first call.

5. Most important – the 1-2 punch: Based on your research, focus on one or two key points about their operation that will help in asking good, probing questions. And have some ideas on how you can help your prospects– vs trying to sell them advertising.

All this preparation will prove that you are different from the typical wolf pack of ad sales people who call them every day. After all, prospects are interested in good marketing ideas and want to work with people that are smart and get what they want to do. As they say in sports as well as business–always be prepared for your next play!

Have any great tips to share? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin.


Carl Landau About 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.
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 – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events –  Check it out!

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