The Secret to Selling More Ads: Stop Talking!

By Carl Landau, Grand Poobah of Niche Media


Whether you are selling print, digital ads or sponsorships, the key to magazine ad sales is your ability to draw out a prospect and ask them great probing questions.  This is especially important when selling to niche markets.  Your prospects need to feel confident that you know the ins-and-outs of their target audience.  Most niche ad pros will say, “I know that!” Well, ask yourself… did you do a good job of this with your last prospect?

Believe it or not, I’ve trained over 3,000 niche magazine sales types at my Camp Niche. I’d say the majority of salespeople have the same approach. They start with a two sentence lead-in about how their publication is the premier magazine in such-and-such market. And they are #1 in the market place because of blah, blah, blah. If there is an awkward silence (which there probably will be) they then feel the need to talk pretty much non-stop for the next 5 minutes. After finally after running out of oxygen, they usually ask the prospect if they can book some space with them. And the prospect’s response is usually equally clever: referring to no money in the budget, they’re not ready to advertise, or whatever excuse they can come up with on the fly.

The average ad salesperson monopolizes 80% of the conversation! The talk is all about MY MAGAZINE, MY WEBSITE, MY TRADESHOW. Your prospect doesn’t care. They care about how promote and sell THEIR PRODUCT and THEIR SERVICE. Before you talk about your properties, ask your prospect all about THEMSELVES, THEIR COMPANY, THEIR PRODUCTS.

People are interested in talking about themselves.  If you engage them you can get them to open up.  Formulate a dozen basic questions about your prospects’ product / service / store that you can customize to each call. What’s unique about it? What makes them successful? Who is their ideal buyer?

Try it. Reverse the dialogue and do 20% of the talking with your next prospect. You should lead the discussion and let them tell you what is most important to THEM. If you do this, your prospects will tell you what their hot button is and what they need in order to be sold.

So, what to do when they say they tried print ads and they got no calls, or banner ads don’t work or their last sponsorship was a waste of time? You need to have real life success stories of companies just like them who were more skeptical than they were. Their competitor used an incentive gift to get calls that resulted in 4 times the calls. A new video ad tripled click-through for a similar company. Another competitor developed an affordable integrated media program that was wildly successful this summer.

The key here is listening and asking good follow up questions based on what the prospect is interested in. In that initial call, don’t worry about making a sale. Get to know the prospect and their business by showing a sincere interest in helping them. It’s not difficult. It starts by not talking so much!

This article is part of the July Niched Out News. To read all articles in this issue:

Ad Sales Mania: The Secret to Selling More Ads: Stop Talking!

Digital Oz: How Will You Support Your Digital Platform When Banner Ads Disappear?

Success Story: PMQ’s Pizza Magazine becomes first Godengo+Texterity Publisher to Use Full Digital, Web, and App Suite

Niche Magazine of the Month: Fastline

Content Marketing Tip of the Month: 3 Questions Before You Begin a Content Marketing Program