In a recent mentoring session, I listened as a young salesperson reeled off all his well-rehearsed points for an upcoming sales call. Editorial strength? Check. Pricing advantages? Check. Competitive benefits? Check.
Then I threw him. I asked what he thought of his client’s new product line. Oops. Like many novices, he’d gotten so caught up in his own media that he neglected learning about the company he wanted to sell it to.
I wasn’t surprised. It’s a complex media world out there, and there’s a lot to cover on our side of the fence. But client knowledge is what separates the novices from the veterans. It’s what enables salespeople to gain credibility in a sales conversation and keep them from stumbling when they’re pursuing someone new. After all, your client isn’t only worried about Google analytics. She’s thinking about product introductions, market share and customer retention—and you should, too.
So how do you get on the same page? One obvious starting point is your client’s website. A few minutes of analysis here can make all the difference as you remember:
1. You’re selling, not buying. You are the marketing/media subject expert. Look deeper than what products and services they sell. How do they position themselves? What is their sales edge and their venerable spots? You can see how they hope to lead their prospects. Their site navigation shows you how hope to lead their prospects. I often start with the site map to move more quickly as a media salesperson.
2. Look for common ground. See how your client’s mission statement (usually on the “About Us” page) connects to your media. If the client shows commitment to, say, educational efforts or sustainable production, use it as a start for building a relationship.
3. Determine the decision-making unit. Look at “who we are,” executive profile and the Board of Directors to see if you know anyone already. Don’t forget to check their LinkedIn profiles. (see our Blog on “Using LinkedIn to Sell.”)
4. Discover clues and opportunities. FAQs might reveal problems or challenges consumers have with the product, and Press Room tips you off to recent news, happenings and events.
5. Find the purpose. Is your client’s site heavy on news, gossip or discount sales? That’s a setup for lead generation Maybe it features to published articles, white papers and archived webinars to establish their “thought leadership,” Do they use contests, polls and other engage techniques to pluck out top prospects or build their database? Maybe the site is strictly for transactions, or maybe it’s nothing but an address and phone number. Whatever you find, you’ve got plenty to chew on regarding your client’s marketing strategy, budget, technological savvy, and customer base.
6. Build on what they do or do not have. You could extend their reach through sponsored articles, Webinars, streaming video or social media. How are they using your media now? Are they connecting their digital and print advertising to their Website? You might have to prove value for techno-shy clients, but everyone wants to know what’s out there and who’s using it.
7. See who’s coming to the party. Type some obvious key words, such as “educational software,” into search engines and see where your client comes up. Clients who buy sponsored links are clearly candidates for more web marketing opportunities. And clients who don’t come up “above the fold” can be introduced to the benefits of having customers find them on, perhaps, on your own website (assuming that it’s “above the fold,” of course).
8. See which other parties they’re attending. Use research tools that reveal where clients are advertising, how much and with whom. How do they use digital and social media? In what exhibitions and events do they participate? Now you can shoot for “share of pocket.”
9. Examine their nearest competitors’ website. Of course, most of these companies will also be your prospects. Compare and contrast specific pages such as “Who we are,” to see how they all position themselves within the product category. This exercise will yield lots of new information and selling ideas.
10. Take a deep breath and make contact with your prospect. After all, knowledge is power!
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