How to Handle Ad Sales Cancellations with Positive Results!

Carl_New_Headshot By Carl Landau, Niche Media Grand Poobah

One of the taboo subjects ad sales people don’t want to talk about is how to handle rejection or when an existing advertiser or sponsor cancels some business with you.    ID-10022271

We recently had a vendor that we didn’t renew an agreement with once their year-long contract was over. We liked them but decided to take it in-house. The sales person didn’t handle it well and the transition to not using their services went anything but smoothly. I went from a fairly happy customer to a pissed off ex-customer.

As an ad sales person, don’t ever let this happen to you! If you think about your current advertisers and sponsors, probably at some point the majority of them had to cancel or change their schedule. How you handle this is incredibly important for the long term relationship you want to establish with your clients.

Carl’s 5 Tips for Overcoming Rejection on Canceled Ad Sales Programs:

  1. You need to push them a little to find out what the real reason is for canceling. The real reason may not be what they originally say.
  2. Don’t be a pushover. If there is a contract, then remind them of the terms and how much money they will lose (or the special issue or extra distribution they’ll be missing).
  3. Re-selling the ad program. We all hate it, but it seems like half the time we’re reselling advertising we already sold. Just reminding them why they went into the magazine, website, or event they had signed up for.
  4. Point out that you can just delay the program for 2 months until they resolve whatever is the problem. (Money, delay in product development, change in management, or whatever.)
  5. If there is no turning back and they have to cancel, be just as nice as you were when they originally signed up. I hate seeing ad sales people that start out all super nice and sweet, but as soon as something goes a little south they turn into mean SOBs about it all. You need to be in it for the long run: work and plan for when they’re going to come back, and do it in a positive and upbeat way.

You can now look forward to Mondays! Every Monday you’ll get a cool ad sales tip that will make your week a better one courtesy of Niche Media. Want to learn more? Attend the The Niche Magazine Conference for ad sales knowledge and inspiration this February. Have stories about about ad sales cancellations? Share here or on Facebook or Twitter. It’ll be like therapy for all us niche magazine ad salespeople.


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  1. Yeah, but how can you fully trust an advertiser again who cancels last minute? Once they’ve proven to be unreliable they become not my first choice in advertisers. I mark them as unreliable or undesirable. Once bitten, twice shy.

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