Turn “Absolutely Not!” into “Tell Me More!”


NDC Speaker Nancy O’Brien tells us why overcoming tough objections is possible.

Ad salespeople—do some days feel like you are smacking up against a brick wall of “No?”  Do you encounter prospects who cross their arms and purse their lips tightly, all the while glancing at their cell phone or desktop every 30 seconds?

Everyone in the ad sales profession faces rejection. But how do you overcome the persistent, teflon-coated objections of a really good prospect—one you know you can help? We checked in with Nancy O’Brien of Aviation International News—and ad sales rock star in her own right—to see what works best.

Niche Media HQ: We have featured posts from you in the past on this blog where you talk about overcoming objections. What are some early warning signals that clients show so an ad salesperson can know they are heading for trouble? What can they do to turn it around?

Nancy O:

“When meeting with a client there can be some early warning signs that you will be facing a lot of objections before you will be able to close the sale.  Sometimes just the mood or attitude of the customer gives you a heads up early on that they are not going to be easy.  Generally speaking, most clients will wage some sort of objection before they will give you their business. 

For example, you hear objections such as:

  • We’ve had a lot of budget cuts!
  • We’ve just invested in a complete web re-design.
  • I have never seen your magazine before.
  • We have our advertising all planned for the year.

These are all signs that overcoming the objections isn’t going to be easy.  The most important thing to remember is that an objection is not the end of the meeting, it is just the beginning of what we do best—sell. 

They key is to get to the bottom of their real reasons for not wanting to do business with you by asking probing questions. Once you get the client to open up about their true hesitations, you will be able to outline the real benefits of your products and how they match with the client’s goals.”

Niche Media HQ: Can you give us a real world example where the prospect is firmly in “No” and you moved them to “Yes!” with the right probing questions?

Nancy O:

“Here’s one from just last week: In a meeting with a client who has never done business with us, I heard early on in the meeting that they have a very limited budget in their corporate communications department and so have to be very selective with their media choices. 

Having done my homework and studied their website prior to the meeting, I saw that they had hundreds of products for my industry being manufactured all over the world.  I asked the client if she was responsible for the marketing and advertising for all of the products under her corporate umbrella and she revealed to me that there were several product managers who had their own budgets for advertising products. 

I suggested that an eight page content marketing piece, inserted into our magazine and paid for by several divisions. It would be a very high visibility advertisement for all of the products as well as her corporate communications goals would be at a much reduced cost for each group.  I asked if she would send me the names of all product managers in her company and that I would coordinate with them and her. 

The next day she sent a follow up email thanking me for the meeting and a list of all of the product contacts.  I solved her challenge of a limited corporate budget by volunteering to pool the monies of several divisions in to a high impact (and high revenue piece for me) advertising vehicle.  I’m looking forward to closing that sale!”

Talk about a success story. If you do thorough homework , ask the right questions and find ways to truly help, your customers will be hard pressed to turn you down.

Editor’s Note: Nancy will be leading the session, What Do You Do When Your Customer Says No at the Niche Digital Conference in Minneapolis in September.


More about Nancy:  Nancy is Associate Publisher & Ad Sales Superstar with Aviation International News. She also co-teaches the Camp Niche Ad Sales Workshop.


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 – blog.NicheEventNation.com  Check it out!

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