Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking ahead to 2010

I would like to thank my loyal readers for your support in 2009. I would also like to thank the various associations and companies that invited me to speak and train their groups.

2009 was a challenging year but I think we have seen the worst of the recession. I believe that the difficulties of the past 2 years will have a lasting effect on the way people buy. The recession has forced consumers and business people to focus on value. To be successful, sales people must become expert at demonstrating the value of the programs they offer. Sales people must use their skills and knowledge to add value to every transaction and every customer contact. In the coming year I will endeavor through this blog, my other writings and my training classes to help sales people and their managers become better at what they do.

I wish you a prosperous New Year. Please contact me if there is anything I can do to help you achieve your goals.

Keep Smiling in 2010, Keep Selling in 2010!

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 1st step to a happy New Year

This is the perfect time of year to talk to customers about their plans and goals. "Mr. Customer, I want to wish you a happy New Year and ask you about your plans for 2010. What are your goals for the upcoming year. My job is to help you achieve your goals, so I'd like to know what you want to accomplish." This question not only helps you formulate a marketing plan for the customer but also positions you as someone genuinely interested in the customer's business.

This is the 1st step toward a happy New Year for both you and your customer.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sales Resolutions

This is the time of year to think about resolutions. Here are my choice of five resolutions that if followed will put more money in any sales rep's pocket.

  1. Listen more than you talk
  2. Ask more than you tell
  3. Don't prejudge any prospect
  4. Always think about how you can help the customer
  5. Ignore at least the first 4 "NO's"
  6. (Bonus) Always ask for referrals

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Scratch their back"

As sales people we are always looking for leads. In addition for looking for leads for ourselves, we should also keep our eyes open for leads for our customers. If a client tells us that he is planning to remodel their store, hook them up with your electrician, contractor, plumber etc. customers. This provides a benefit for both the store owner and the contractors. These clients will remember you when they need to advertise. Like they say "You scratch their back, they'll scratch yours."

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sales lessons from Santa

Here are Santa's top 10 sales tips:
  1. Keep working when everyone else quits and goes to bed
  2. Maintain a positive attitude, you have to believe in yourself even when a lot of other people don't.
  3. Keep your sense of humor-HO HO HO
  4. If you manage your time right, you can cover a lot of territory
  5. Make lots of calls--hit every prospect
  6. Quality your prospects (Naughty? Nice?)
  7. Make sure you have everything you need in your bag.
  8. If they won't let you in the door--try the chimney
  9. Everyone loves you when you deliver as promised.
  10. When you work is done, then you can enjoy the milk and cookies.
Have a great holiday.

Keep Smiling! Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Carve your goals in stone

There is an old saying "May your troubles last only as long as your New Years resolutions." The key to making goals real is writing them down. Write down what you want to accomplish, when you want to achieve your goal and why it is important to you. I also recommend recording what you know about your goal, what you need to learn and where you can get the information you need. I also like to write down the steps you need to take to get closer to realizing your goals. Look at your goals often, at least weekly, if not daily. Keeping you goals in front of you greatly increases your chances of making your dreams come true.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim B.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clear the decks

Try as we might, business naturally slows down in the last few weeks of the year. This is a good time for you to "clear the decks" By taking the time to clear out your files, both physical and digital, and review your sales material, you will be ready to dive into January. A little bit of time spent in organization will pay big dividends in the new year.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weekly Quote

Here's one from master sales trainer Joe Bonura:

Three Rules of Success in Sales:
  1. Make Calls

  2. Make More Calls

  3. Make Many More Calls

This makes great sense to me.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Feed your creativity

Creativity is the stock and trade of advertising salespeople. Creativity is simply taking several different concepts and putting them together in a new arrangement. The more pieces you have access to, the larger number of creative combinations you can make. For this reason I advise sales people to read widely and collect ideas from as many sources as possible. The U. S. Marine Corps has a required reading list for every grade of enlisted man and another for officers. This list includes novels and essays as well as military texts. They understand that a well rounded person will have a better understanding of his fellow men and will be more creative. This is just as true for sales people as for our Leathernecks.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photos inSpec Ads

When I am trying to land a new account, I will often visit the business without introducing myself before making the 1st sales call. I look around and talk to the employees. I also try to take a digital photo of the business. I give this to my artist to use in a spec ad. By using a picture of their business I virtually ensure that the owner will look at my spec and will discuss it with me. This helps them to visualize advertising in my paper.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wave your "Magic Wand"

This is a oldie but goodie. This sales question may seem a bit cheesy but, if positioned right in a call, it provokes interesting responses. After I have built rapport with a prospect, I will ask them "If you had a magic wand and could change anything about your business, what would you change?" This is a great way to uncover customer concerns and learn about their goals. I am a firm believer that anything that gets the customer talking about their business, puts you that much closer to closing a sale.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Now is te time to run "resolution" ads

January is traditionally the time to run "Resolution" ads. Health clubs, weigh loss firms etc. who want to cash in on this desire to remake oneself in the new year should begin running now. By running in December this firms create top of the mind awareness. By running regularly their business will be the first place shoppers turn to when people are ready to remake themselves after the first of the year. If they wait until after New Years Day to advertise they will lose out to firms who have established themselves in the mind of the consumer.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekly Quote

"Chance favors the prepared mind"--Louis Pasteur

This quote has become my personal motto. I truly believe that working hard to develop your skills opens up opportunities. Because you are more knowledgeable you see opportunities that others may miss and you are ready to handle them. This is why the old proverb "The harder I work, the luckier I get." is so true.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Start at the beginning

One of my favorite questions to ask potential customers is "What led you to get into this business?" This simple question can reveal a lot about the client. You can learn what makes them tick and about their vision. This is often an emotional thing for a prospect and allows you to tap into what motivates them. Sometimes in the day to day grind of operational details they forget their dreams, by reminding them of their original motivation you can leverage their passion for their business to close a sale.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Anchoring a broadcast program

When a customer tells me that they do not need to advertise in print because they are on TV or radio, I see this as an opportunity. I do not try to argue with the client but rather praise them for understanding the importance of marketing their business. I talk about the advantages of broadcast, the ability to create an image and tell a compelling story. I then ask the client if they want to get the maximum benefit from their TV or radio dollars by "anchoring" their program. Electronic advertising is by its nature ephemeral, it is in front of a consumer for 30 seconds and then it goes, hurtling into space to be lost forever. It may create a desire for their product but it is unlikely that the listener/viewer will remember the advertisers contact information. By creating a print ad that ties into the broadcast program, you give the consumer the info they need to follow-up. They look in the paper and see an ad "This is the place we saw on TV last night, it looked very nice and look, here's a great coupon. Let's go out for dinner tonight." This will greatly enhance the response to the broadcast ad.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Angling" to get your ad read

People notice things that are out of the ordinary. When you scan a page of any publication, most of the elements on the page are either perfectly horizontal (Lines of Copy) or perfectly vertical (Columns). If you want to standout break this pattern. Try placing a major element of an ad on an angle. Place the headline through the center of the ad, angle an illustration. This takes a little more work but will really make your ad stand out.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Its, "Like" , a good idea

Maintaining a like ad file is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to help close sales. This is simply a file of sample ads from your publication. I file mine by category (Plumbers, Restaurants etc.) so that when I am going to meet a prospect I can easily pull examples to show them. As they say "A picture is worth a 1,000 words" so this is much easier than describing what you want the customer t do. Like ads also serve as a de facto thrid party story, seeing ads that other businesses ran in your publication helps prospests to see the value of running. This is what psychologists call "social proof", if others do something first, it is easier to accept doing it yourself. I also keep files for things like "good half page ads" or good use of color" to use when selling these features. These files also help when formulating good questions or designing spec ads.

Try it you'll "like" it.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekly Quote

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it"
General Norman Schwartzkopf

As a trainer my job is to give the people I work with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Long ago I gave up the illusion that I can make anyone successful, at most I can help them. Success has to come from within, taking action and making it happen. Like "Storm'n Norman" said, this is the hard part and the only thing that matters.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Make It Easy on the Reader

Here are some tips from Steve Cone's 2005 book Steal These Ideas--Marketing Secrets That Will Make You A Star.

Cone suggests following these rules to make you ads easy to read:
  1. Always use serif type. Serif type means the each letter is finished off with a little foot that helps the eye literally finish seeing the letter
  2. If you must use sans-serif type, apply it to bold headlines only
  3. Always refuse to use reverse type, it is simply too difficult to read
  4. Always imagine that your readers are 55 or older and choose a type size that is kind to their eyes.

Mr. Cone's book is well worth reading and packed full or valuable ideas. I would add a couple of points to his comments on "readability". I think a lot about contrast. The easiest thing to read is black type on a white background because of the great contrast. I recently saw an ad with purple type on a light red background, very artsy but almost impossible to read. These two colors are much too close on the color spectrum. Also small type that is clear on white bond paper from your computer's printer may blur when printed on newsprint.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks--Jim Busch

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When they love your competitor

What do you do when a prospect tells you "I am very pleased with my ad in your competitors paper" ? You can't disparage the other paper without offending the client. Like most sales situations, the answer to this is a question. I ask the prospect "Why do you think your program is working so well?" Listen to the customer to find out what they are looking for. Think about the advantages that your product offers. If you cover areas that the competitor does not reach follow up with "If the competitor paper could reach x number of additional readers, do you think you would get even better results?" and then say "My paper could give you that extra circulation."

Instead of trying to change the customer's mind, build on the beliefs they hold. Present your solution as "more of a good thing" rather than as something different. Once you get a share of the business, win a bigger share by giving the customer superior service and some great ideas to build their business.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Power" up your selling skills

My secret weapon arrived in the mail today. This tool has helped me to become a better sales person and sales manager. It helps me to maintain my competitive edge. My secret weapon is Selling Power Magazine.

I have subscribed to Selling Power Magazine for many years. Because Selling Power is written for sales people by sales people, every issue is packed full of actionable ideas that you can take directly to the field. This month's issue includes articles on interviewing, motivation, risk taking, objections, listening, closing and much more.

As professionals we need to invest in building our sales skills. Selling Power is a good investment that will bring you an excellent ROI.

Keep smiling, Keep Selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Why December Matters

December can be a challenging month for sales people. Many of our prospects are either busy or in full-on party mode. There is a genuine temptation to blow off December and join in the festivities. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by the siren call of the eggnog. December may be the most important month of the year for you.

You can not afford to write off one twelfth of your year. The contacts and appointments you make in December will ensure a good January and get your new year started off with a bang. If you slack off in December you will be starting January with your sales pipeline empty. This will make achieving you January goals extremely difficult and force you to play "catch up" all year long.

December is a great time to talk to clients about their goals for the coming year and to secure commitments for advertising. Many service businesses are slow this time of the year and you may be able to get more time from these customers. Your competition may be able to take December off, but you can't.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks, Jim Busch

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Quote

I like quotations because they bring truths into sharp focus. The following statement expresses something we all know but is often forgotten in the press of our daily activities.

"You're only really working when you're face-to-face with a customer. Everything else is only prelude."
Brian Tracy

As salespeople we only get paid for having substantive conversations with customers that lead to a sale. We have to spend time planning , attending meetings etc. but it is in our own best interest to organize your days to spend as much time as possible engaging clients. As an old telephone sales rep I disagree with the phrasing "face-to-face" and would offer the substitution "connecting" as more accurate. Keep close track of your time and do whatever you can to increase the percentage of time you are spending with the people who write your paycheck.

Keep smiling, keep selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Swimming against the stream

A local Pittsburgh auto dealer has decided to skip the current recession. At a recent Media Association of Pittsburgh meeting Mr. Jim Shorkey explained how he has consistently broken sales records for the past two years. When the auto industry started to slow down he ramped up his advertising. At the meeting he said that when he was told that US auto sales fell to 17 million, he said "Great, I want my share of that 17 mill!" As the local market began to shrink, he almost doubled his budget. By increasing his share, he maintained his profitability. At the same time he enhanced his sales compensation plan "because closing is harder in a tough market." When KIA USA told him that the Pittsburgh market couldn't produce the volume to support a large advertising investment, he decided it could. After 3 months he had doubled his sales and within a year he had the highest sales per capita of any dealer in the nation. Mr. Shorkey spends about 70% of his budget in print with the remainder divided between radio and TV. By refusing to buy into the economic hysteria spread by the national media and following a sound business strategy, Mr. Shorkey has proven the wisdom of advertising when times are tight.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day. Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A fun idea for Christmas

Here's an idea I got from one of our advertisers. It is a great way to bring in holiday business and have a little fun. They headlined their ad with these words:

"Sing a carol and get a 20% discount"
All a customer has to do is sing a few bars of Jingle Bells or Frosty to get their discount. I like this idea because it made them standout from the typical holiday ads. Another benefit is that it enhances the "customer experience," it makes shopping at their store fun. This "experience factor" greatly influences consumer's choice of where they will shop. All things being equal people opt for the more entertaining or unique store. Sometimes they will even pay a little more to go to a place that is more engaging.

Keep smiling, keep selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mom was right!

When your mother said "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all.", she was absolutely right. Research psychologists have recently identified a phenomenon which they called "Spontaneous Trait Transference." This is described as "In the mind of the listener, communicators are associated with the traits they describe in others." Simply stated, if you say your competitor is dishonest, you will be seen as dishonest. If you say your competitor is hard working, you will be seen as hardworking. This may seem a bit irrational, but it is supported by a lot of careful research. After years in sales and as an observer of human nature, I am only surprised when humans act rationally. The lesson to take away is that sales people must focus on consistently using positive language, to avoid using negative descriptions. Sales people should concentrate on the value offered by their products, not on the faults of opposing products. Mom also said "You are what you eat." for salespeople "We are what we say."

Keep smiling, keep selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekly quote

This week's quote is from Andrew Carnegie. Since I grew up outside Pittsburgh in the shadow of Carnegie's steel mills I have always been fascinated by this extraordinary man. Carnegie's greatest strength was his ability to sell. He understood what motivated people to buy and how to get them to do things his way. The first steel mill Carnegie built is still operating a couple of miles from my home. The plant is not named after Andrew Carnegie but is called the "Edgar Thompson Works." Mr. Thompson was the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the largest buyer of steel in the world when Carnegie went into business. Old Andy know how to take care of his prospects.

Throughout his life, the people around Carnegie constantly remarked about his energy and drive. This quote says a lot about how Andrew Carnegie became literally the richest man in the world:

"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity"--Andrew Carnegie

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A notable idea

There is a Chinese proverb that says "The palest ink last longer than the best memory." This is why I always advise salespeople to take notes during a sales call. Note taking forces you to listen more attentively. Often reviewing notes allows you to see patterns that were not readily apparent during the call. I look for words or ideas that the prospect repeated several times. This is a sure way to identify issues that are important to the customer.

Taking notes sends a signal to the customer. It tells them that you are interested in what they are saying and that they are dealing with a professional. I find that recapping my notes on a follow up call saves time and moves the sales process along. Instead of covering the same ground you can begin acting on the information gathered on the first call.

Don't worry about writing done complete sentences. Record the key words and ideas and leave space on the page to fill in the blanks after the meeting. Underline or circle points that you want to explore further or want to act on.

I've found that many sales people are reluctant to take notes during a call. They seem to feel that note taking is awkward or inappropriate. I suggest you make a point of taking notes during calls in the next few weeks. You'll find that this practice will have a "notable" impact on your sales results.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks--Jim Busch

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Designing Online ads

Designing ads for your company's website is somewhat different than doing layouts for your print product. Most online display ads contain a link to the customer's site. Think of online ads as a high tech headline. Like a headline the banner ad is intended to grab the viewers attention and get them to read further. Online ads must be simple and straightforward to attract viewers who are surfing your site. They should offer to reader value and clearly indicate what the ad is offering "Save Big on Product Name" In this case the "body copy" of the ad is the customer's website. Include a message to motivate the viewer to click through to the link. Use phrases like "Click here for details" or "Click here for coupon." Online ads with heavy copy fade into the surrounding site. Ads that "tease" viewers to access the customer's web site are most effective.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

The "Great Eight"

I am a great believer in the "magnifying glass theory." Like sunlight though a lens, you can accomplish a lot more when you focus your energy. Some people keep a top ten prospect list, as a rep I always kept a "Great Eight." The number you choose doesn't really matter, what is important is that you keep a list of your best prospects. Any territory contains many businesses that could buy from you. The high number of potential customers can cause inexperienced reps to dissipate their efforts. They make contacts but move on to the next target without following up. They do not have the time to thoroughly plan and prepare for any individual prospects.

Choosing a handful of prospects for special attention will greatly increase your chance of success. This accounts will get the "full court press." You should research them, create a complete advertising plan for them and develop a strategy for selling the account. It would be wonderful if you could do this for every prospect in your territory but this would require far too much time. Choose accounts that are in categories your publication can benefit, businesses that have a high dollar potential and highly respected businesses that will enhance your product. Keep them on the list until you've exhausted every effort to close them or until you can move them to "current customer" list. As soon as you move someone off the list replace them with a new prospect.

It is always important to make as many calls as humanly possible and keep in touch with your territory. This is how you know who belongs on your "top" list. Focusing your efforts will move more of these contacts into the "sold" column.

Keep smiling, keep selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, November 16, 2009

Five C's equals an A+

When I call on a prospect or a client I like to be prepared. At a minimum I like to know how I am going to open the call and the questions I want to ask. There are five basic things I want to know about any business I am trying to sell. I call them the "5 C's". By asking 5 C questions you can uncover the customer's needs and problems and begin to formulate a plan. Here are my 5 C's:

5 C’s
1. Company
2. Customers
3. Current Marketing
4. Competition
5. Challenges

In the coming weeks I'll elaborate on these and give some examples of question for each,

Have a great week.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Quote

When I was a young man Dr. Lawrence J. Peter's work was very popular. He is the author of "The Peter Principle, Why Things Always Go Wrong." The theory behind this book was that people eventually get promoted to their "level of incompetence." Stated simply this principle says that people are advanced until they reach a level that is beyond their abilities. Dr. Peter had some unique insights into human nature and in his second book "The Peter Prescription" he explored the answer to the problem described above--continual self development and learning.

This week's quote is one of "Peter's Laws"

"Do it by the book...but be the author!"

I totally agree with this thought. We need to establish personal principles and then live by them! Have a great weekend.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Principles of persuasion

As sales and advertising people we are professional persuaders. The following principles are taken from Robert Cialdini's excellent book "Influence: The New Psychology of Modern Persuasion

1) Reciprocity--This is the "I'll scratch your back, I'll scratch yours" theory. When you do something for a person, they naturally want to do something for you in return
2) Consistency--When you make a series of requests that causes the customer to answer in the affirmative, they are more inclined to answer in the affirmative when you make a larger request.
3) Social influence--"Monkey see-monkey do" People tend to follow the crowd and do what others have done. Testimonials are the best way to leverage this principle
4) Familiarity--People are more likely to go along with people they know or like. This is why asking for referrals is so important.
5) Authority--People tend to trust people in authority or who look like an authority figure. Don't forget to dress for success
6) Scarcity--This plays on a fear of loss. When you close an ad by saying "I only have a few sots left on this promo" you are applying this principle

I hope I've persuaded you to read this great book.

Keeping smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim B.

Proof Reading Trick

Typos in ads are surprisingly hard to find. Our minds sometimes play tricks on us when we are proof reading. We will read what we expect to see, rather than what is actually on the page. If we know the line is supposed to say "Cheese Pizza" that is what we will see, even if the type says "Cheese Piazza". To avoid this problem I like to read all of my ads backwards. We learn to read from left to right, top to bottom, as we get older this pattern becomes automatic. In the interest of speed we stop focusing on individual words and begin taking in information in "chunks." This is why if a word is close to correct we may gloss over it. By reading each line from right to left, we break our normal pattern and force ourselves to read each individual word. Taking a few minutes to do this can prevent typos in your ads and save you a lot of grief from customers.

Keep selling, keep smiling.

Thanks--Jim Busch

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Naked or Armed for Bear?

I frequently get asked, "What should I carry on a sales call?" There are 2 schools of thought on this. Some salespeople believe in going in "naked" with nothing more than a business card. They believe that carrying a lot of sales materials intimidates the prospect and causes them to chase the sales person away.

Others believe in going in "armed for bear" with everything they have to present. I have even known reps who fill in an insertion order before going on a call. Their theory is that you should be prepared for anything just in case the customer is receptive to buying.

I prefer to take the middle path. I like to carry a small neat binder containing coverage maps, pricing and product samples. At the front of my binder I have several PowerPoint slides that talk about the key selling points of my product. This binder looks professional and contains everything I need to present my product to a customer and answer basic questions. I like to use the slides as a visual aid when describing my publication to the prospect. Research indicates that if your words are supported by a visual, the customer is more likely to retain the information. Visuals also enhance your credibility with the client. Everyone is different but this has worked for me for years.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, November 9, 2009

What's working in Pittsbugh

At the Pittsburgh Pennysaver we sell a lot of print & deliver inserts (3.5 million in the avg. week). These are available in a variety of sizes and papers. We do a lot of restaurants, pizza shops and other businesses that like to do coupons. One design is particularly popular because it highlights the coupons and gets a great response.

We sell an 11 X 17 flyer that is folded twice. The key to this design is that the first fold is made 2" t0 2-1/2" off center. In other words, instead of making the fold at the 8-1/2" point we make it 11" from the end. When the piece is folded again, this time in the center, a 2-1/2" tab is created. We lay out the piece so this tap is where the coupons are located. When a reader opens the piece the coupons "Pop". This effect can be enhanced even further by printing the coupons in a contrasting color.

Here is a diagram that may help. Please note that I obviously do not have a graphics department.

On several occasions, this idea has helped me to close a sale.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Friday Quote 11/6/09

This week's quote is from one of the great creative minds from the "Golden Age" of advertising, David Ogilvy:

"Whatever you do, you should want to be the best at it. Every time you approach a task, you should be aiming to do the best job that's ever been done at it. Anyone who does that will be successful...and rich."

Ogilvy is one of the founders of the Ogilvy and Mather advertising agency. He is also the author of two great books on advertising (Confessions of an advertising man & Ogilvy on advertising)) Ogilvy was highly creative and a superb copy writer. He put the eye patch on the Hathaway shirt man and wrote "At 60 miles per hour the only sound in my Rolls Royce is the ticking of the clock". I suggest picking up one of his books , in spite of their age they are still packed with useful ideas on creating powerful ads and on the creative process.

I've received a number of requests for a list of books that I would recommend. This is a daunting task, but I've started putting it together. I hope to launch a website soon and this will be a part of my page.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling

Have a great weekend. Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Making Headlines

Here is a quote from Your Attention Please* by Paul Brown and Alison Davis:

"On Average. five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90% of your money"

This is something to keep in mind when creating ads for your customers. Your customer may want to see their name at the top of the ad. Unless their name contains a key selling point (ie. Cheap Carpets) this is not a good idea. The name will only help them attract customers who already know them. If they want to attract new customers, a headline that features a value statement is the way to go. Their regular customer's will see their name in the body copy.

Use the quote above and tell the customer "research indicates..." Remind them that you are the advertising professional. This is worth fighting for because strong headlines have a significant impact on how effectively the ad will draw customers. Customers who buy effective ads are the customers who remain customers.

*This is a great book for those of us who earn our paychecks selling and writing ads

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Knee Jerk" Objections

What do you do when you walk into a customer's place of business (or call them on the phone) and they immediately say "NO". This is what I call a "knee jerk" objection. They are not really objecting to what you have to offer, at this point they don't even know what you are offering. They are conditioned by long experience to react to salespeople with an immediate rejection. The best way to handle this situation is to step around it.

I start with a bit of verbal Judo. I respond to the prospect by saying something like "That's okay, I wish everyone would buy something from me, but I know that's not realistic. Thank you for your time." This statement defuses the situation and sets up my next move. Next I start a conversation about their business. I will ask a question about something on display in their store or something in their office. I may ask them how long they've in business, anything to start them talking.

When they first identify you as a salesperson, the prospect erects a barrier to keep you away. By engaging the prospect in conversation you begin to crack that barrier. The longer you keep them talking the less they think of you as a salesperson and the more they think of you as an individual. You can then start asking questions to uncover needs and move on to a sale. This technique is much more effective than trying to confront the objection directly.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanksgiving letters

Time keeps rushing by and November is here already. Here is an idea that I have used both as a sales person and as a manager to set myself apart. I always sent my advertisers a Thanksgiving letter. Every vendor sends out Christmas cards, so it is easy to get lost in the pile. Very few business people acknowledge Thanksgiving Day. It is the logical time to reach out to your customers, to thank them for buying from you. When I do this, I always get very positive feedback, often clients actually pick up the phone and call to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving.

Here is the copy I used last year:

Thanksgiving is a season of reflection, a season of giving thanks for our blessings throughout the year. It is a season to remember the special people who have helped us and whose very presence brightens the world. I always enjoy speaking with you and having you as a customer has made my job a great pleasure. As Thanksgiving approaches I’d like to express my gratitude for allowing me the privilege of working with you. Thank you for your business and for always being so pleasant. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

I print these out on Thanksgiving stationary from the office supply shop and mail them to all of my clients. This is a low cost, high impact way to build your relationship with a customer.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Quote

Here is a quote from "The Duke":

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in puts itself in our hands and hopes we've learned something from yesterday."--John Wayne

Any day that leaves us a little bit wiser than the day before should be counted as a success. Sometimes our toughest days are the most valuable in the long run, the lessons learned the hard way are the ones which have the greatest impact on us. As the "Duke" says, the important thing is to apply what you have learned and apply it to making each successive day better. This is how we grow as salespeople and as human beings.

Saddle up, keep smiling and keep selling Pilgrim.

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Remembering Herb

Today I learned that my old boss Herb Gross had passed away. Herb owned a small independent cash register company and I worked for him as his service manager. Because I had some success selling service policies, I tried selling registers in the evenings launching my sales career. I don't like to speak ill of the dead, but Herb was a real SOB of a boss. In spite of this, I will be eternally grateful to him for teaching me a lot about sales and management (Some by setting a good example, some by setting a horrible example). In later years we became friends, so here is a typical "Herb story" in his memory.

Late in the afternoon just before closing, a frantic customer called telling me they had run out of cash register rolls. I knew the customer's machine would not operate without rolls so I told him "No problem, your store is on my way home, I'll drop off a package within the hour."

As soon as I hung up the phone Herb was in my face shouting "Don't ever tell them that...don't ever tell them that again!"

Confused I said "Don't tell them what? They need the rolls and they're a good customer."

Still agitated Herb said "I know that, don't ever tell them 'No Problem!' Make 'em owe you. Tell them 'You know we're closing in a few minutes and your store is out of my way but you're a good customer so I'll get them to you as soon as possible.' Make them think getting the rolls to them is a big deal. They'll remember that if a competitor tries to take our business."

While I didn't agree with lying to the customer, I did learn a lesson about the importance of maintaining customer relationships. Herb always considered how every interaction with the customer impacted the relationship. Herb drove me crazy for a couple of years, but the lessons I learned from him have helped me for decades.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The web myth

Today (October 27, 2009) is the 15th birthday of Internet advertising. On this date in 1994 the first banner ads were posted on the web. In the intervening years many people have come to see web advertising as the magic wand of marketing. Businesses want to believe that they can put up a web site and the customers will come rolling in ("You get money for nothing and your clicks for free!") This is not quite true. The web is a victim of it's own success, with so much online clutter, your customer's website can easily be overlooked. Even Internet giants like E-bay and Yahoo realize they have to advertise in other media to drive traffic to their sites.

To demonstrate the need to promote their website in my papers I do a little "surfing" with my clients. Typically they know their web address and go directly to it in their browser. I ask them to find their site the way consumers usually do--by Googling it. Google and other search engines make their money by selling "sponsored listings." I did this recently with a local carpet company. The results of my search found the customer's site but they were listed below a number of discount dealers offering up to 60% off retail. One of the companies listed suggested shopping at your local store, getting the stock number and then comparing prices online. By including their web address in a print ad, the carpet store can ensure that shoppers will go directly to their site without having to compete with the online discounters. By directing shoppers to their site in print they can turn the information super highway into a one way street leading right to their store.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Give it a glance

Ads should clearly communicate what an advertiser does for a living. You should be able to glance at an ad and tell from the art and/or a prominent headline what they do. I sometimes will hold up an ad, back up 5 or 6 feet and ask a customer to tell me what the ad is about. I believe this simulates the way consumers view our products. While we carefully review an ad, they often skim through our publications. If they are in the market for auto repairs an ad that features an illustration of a mechanic under the hood will grab their attention and they will read further. The artwork should shout out what the customer's business does. Remind customers of the AIDA formula: Attention--Interest--Desire--Action. They might think it is cute to put their dog's picture in an ad, but unless they own a pet shop, this is the wrong message to send your readers. Ads should say what they do with just a cursory glance.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Monday, October 26, 2009

Elementary my dear sales rep.

I love to watch the old Sherlock Holmes movies on TV. My favorite part is when Holmes demonstrates his incredible powers of observation. He notices tiny things that everyone else misses and then uses these clues to construct a detailed narrative and solve the crime. Sales people should work to develop their own powers of observation. Take note of the layout of a prospect's place of business. Look at their signage and what items are most prominently displayed. The decor of the store (For example is it elegant or purely practical) will tell you a lot about the personality of the owner. Use this information to start the conversation and formulate good questions. Business people are proud of their operations and like to talk about them. Starting out by saying "I noticed that you stock a lot of" or "Your store doesn't look like the average..." This will start the prospect talking about the business and get the call off on a very positive note. By the way, the deerstalker hat and the magnifying glass are optional.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Make them famous!

One of my friends has been selling Pennysaver advertising for almost 30 years. Mike consistently ranks in the top five of our sales people. What is his secret? He concentrates his efforts on selling long term advertising agreements.

Mike tells customer's "My job is to make you famous and the only way we can do that is to keep you in front of your customers." He also trains his customers "not to expect any obvious results for at least six weeks, after that you will own the market." Mike's strategy is to get the customer to think long term and to get them used to advertising. One of the most interesting calls I've ever observed was with Mike. His customer said "Mike, we got some business out the ad this week." Mike responded "I doubt that, it is much too soon." The customer shot back, "Hey, I'm telling you the ad is working, I'm getting calls!" Mike acquiesced and went on with his call. Anytime you can get the customer to argue that the ad is working, you have them eating out of your hand. Talk to your customer's about making them "Famous" and you will be famously successful

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks--Jim Busch

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Great Research

Here is a great study published by editor and publisher. With all the press about the decline of the newspaper industry many customers think "print is dead." Here is the real story about what's really happening in the free paper industry.

Published: October 20, 2009 11:30 PM ET
NEW YORK A new National Newspaper Association survey found that 81% of respondents read a local weekly paper each week, 73% read "most or all of it," and those readers spend an average of 40 minutes with the paper.The NNA survey, co-sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, surveyed 500 adults, according to the report. NNA is the national organization for community, or weekly, newspapers.Among its other findings:
• Readers, on average, share their paper with 2.36 additional readers.
• Nearly 40% keep their community newspaper more than a week.
• Three-quarters of readers read local news "often to very often" in their community newspaper, while 53% say they never read local news online (only 12% say they read local news often to very often online).
• Among those going online for local news, 63% found it on the local newspaper's website, compared to 17% for sites such as Yahoo, MSN or Google, and 12% from the website of a local television station.
• 60% read local education news "somewhat to very often" in their newspaper, while 65% never read local education news online.
• 47% say there are days they read the newspaper as much for the ads as for the news.
• 30% do not have Internet access in the home.

Keep Smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Looking for leads in all the right places

Supermarkets, home centers and hardware stores are great sources for leads. These stores often have bulletin boards where many contractors post their cards and fliers. I also print up a small ad for myself saying listing some of my papers benefits and my number. When I stop at the bulletin boards to pick up leads I post up a few of these cards. Over the years I have made quite a few sales this way.

A few years ago one of the reps that works for my company had a small lumber yard as a client. He asked his customer when most of the contractors stop in to buy their materials. Per his customer he visited the lumber yard at 7 am, the next Monday morning and set up a folding table. For the next two hours he handed out free donuts and coffee along with his business cards. For a price of a few donuts, he landed three contract advertisers. Sometimes you need to think out of the donut box.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

A timely idea

Sales people use all sorts of tricks to keep themselves focused on their primary task. We all know that the more time we can spend talking to advertisers and prospects the more money we will make, but it is easy to get distracted. I spoke to a sales person recently that has a unique way of keeping himself on task. He bought a cheap digital stopwatch. Throughout the day he starts the clock running when he is talking to a customer either in person or on the phone. As soon as the conversation ends, he hits the stop button. Each day he records the total elapsed time in his Day timer. He told me that when he started doing this he was amazed at how little time he actually spends doing the activity that he gets paid for, talking to customers. This gives him a heightened awareness of time and has motivated him to operate more efficiently. He plays a little game with himself, trying to beat his previous "personal best."

I've met a lot of salespeople in my life. The top sales people I've encountered are always excellent time managers. Using a stopwatch is a bit extreme but the idea behind it is sound. The more time we spend with customers--the more sales we will make.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

News you can use

I once heard Omar Periu say "Until you say something interesting you are an interruption." It can be challenging to come up with something to grab the prospects attention. When I read the newspaper I am always on the look out for potential talking points. I look for stories that potentially impact the local businesses I call on.

For example, yesterday's USA Today featured a story about the decline in the sales of cemetery plots. The article attributed this to the lower cost of direct cremation. I will be able to use this story as a conversation starter with local cemeteries and funeral directors. "Mr. Customer I read an article about... in the USA Today, how is this impacting your business locally" Using this timely information gets the customer talking about their industry and their business. This gives you an opportunity to uncover problems that your publication will be able to solve. Using the news tells the customer that you are interested in them and positions you as more than the typical sales person

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, October 19, 2009

Be there when the customer's there

Selling advertising has never been a 9 to 5 job, neither is running your own small business. Many small businesses take years to become profitable. Owners of new start-ups often have to work another job to support themselves, pouring any profits from the business back into the enterprise. The cost of private health insurance adds to the need to stay employed. For this reason, many business owners can only be found at the business on nights and weekends. If you only call on these businesses during "prime time," you are unlikely to reach the decision maker. Plan on working a few nights a month and the occasional weekend. You will find you can reach many of these "part-time entrepreneurs." An added bonus, since most sales people are not willing to do this, you will find many of these business people will actually ber happy to hear what you have to offer. Like they say, "there's never much traffic when you go the extra mile."

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Quote

This week's quote carries a good message for all of us who create ads for our clients:

"Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film. They advertise memories." Theodore Parker

The most effective ads engage the reader's emotions. I see too many ads with a photo of a furnace. All furnaces look alike, a big ugly grey metal box. Consumers are more engaged by a picture of people sitting comfortably in their home while snow falls outside the window. Likewise an empty restaurant says nothing, people enjoying a meal says "our food is great". Even if you have to argue with your advertisers to get it done, you ads should always sell "the sizzle instead of the steak"

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To catch fish you need to bait the hook

According to a Harris Interactive poll, during a recession, 63% of consumers will not make a discretionary purchase unless they have a coupon or some other kind of incentive. This is good news for those of us in print media. In spite of the growth of Internet coupons, consumers still get the great majority of their coupons from print sources. Consumers are conditioned by long experience to think about print when they are looking for coupon or incentive offers. Businesses that want to maintain their cash flow in a recession should focus on offering value to the consumer in their advertising.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Selling against TV

Here's a fact from yesterday's USA Today (Tuesday October, 13, 2009) that should interest anyone who is considering television advertising.

In 2002 1.5 million Americans owned a DVR
In 2009 43.7 million Americans own a DVR

One of the main reasons people buy digital video recorders is to avoid commercials. Even if a consumer watches the program a business has purchased, the likelihood of their commercial being seen is significantly less than a few years ago. If you have advertisers who invest in local broadcast or cable advertising, share this fact with them. They would do better advertising in your paper where consumers actively seek out the ads rather than actively trying to avoid them.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great copy idea

As a student of advertising, I like to collect ad ideas that I like and can use. I just saw a great ad for a funeral home designed to position them against their lower price competitors. The ad features two graphics, a night sky and a daytime sky. These graphics work in conjunction with this headline and sub headline:

Is Value More Important Than Price?
The Difference Can Be Night & Day

Body copy under the "Sun" graphic explains the customer's value proposition. Copy under the "Moon" graphic addresses the risks of going with the low price competitor. The use of the headline and these graphics communicates the advertiser's message clearly and dramatically.

Keep selling, keep smiling

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, October 12, 2009

Answer now, explain later!

When answering questions, the simpler the better. There are no grey areas in a "Yes" or ""No" answer. Obviously our business is much too complex to use monosyllabic answers in every case. When answering a question, communications experts agree that is best to give your answer first and then explain it. For example if a client asks "Can I get my ad in tomorrows paper?' the best response would be "No, I'm sorry, that issue has already gone to press. Our deadline is three days before the in-home date of the paper." This provides customer with the information they need right away. This allows them to easily process the information. It you place the explanation before the "meat" of the answer you confuse the issue. If you say "Mr./Ms. Customer, it takes a lot of work to put our paper together. our deadline is three days before the in-home date, so I won't be ale to get you in tomorrow's paper." the customer may be processing the collateral information and miss the fact they need. By answering directly you show the client that you are confident and know what you are talking about. Long rambling answers may give the impression that you are trying to avoid the question. Answering directly positions you as honest and straightforward.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday quote

Earlier this week I spent a very long day with one of our field reps. His manager asked me to spend some time with him because his territory is under performing. I had diagnosed his problem in about two minutes. Every other sentence out of his mouth was a complaint about something. He is absolutely convinced that he has the worst territory, the toughest customers and the most outrageous sales goals on the entire planet. With this attitude he couldn't sell life jackets on the deck of the Titanic! I had a long talk to him about his mind set but I am not sure it sunk in. Attitude adjustments have to be an inside job. This week's quote expresses a great way to look at life:

"There are only two ways to approach life--as a victim or as a gallant fighter, and you must decide if you want to act or react, deal your own cards or play with a stacked deck. And if you don't decide which way to play with life, it will always play with you."--Merle Shain

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Photos in an ad.

A few weeks ago one of the reps I work with asked me to visit an advertiser with him. The client was ready to cancel their ad because it wasn't generating a response. I talked to the client, the owner of a middle eastern restaurant, and reviewed her ad. The ad was a small version of their menu. It listed virtually everything they sold but was lacking one important did not mention anything about the quality of their food. I convinced the customer to cut back on the details and insert a photo into the ad. This photo of a smiling satisfied customer was captioned "I love XXXX's restaurant, the food is delicious." After two weeks of running the new program their sales significantly increased.

I believe the photo is largely responsible for the success of the ad. Scientists have recently discovered the existence of "Mirror" neurons in the human brain. These neurons keep us tuned in to the actions and emotions of those around us. (This explains why when someone yawns in your presence, you feel compelled to do the same) This is an important survival skill for social creatures like us. By including an image of someone enjoying the cuisine at the restaurant, it made the readers want to share this experience. Think about this when an advertiser wants to use a photo of their building...a picture happy smiling customers will be much more effective.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Give them a chance to get back to you

Recently I received a voice mail message from a fellow trainer. This is a person that has been selling and training for decades. I hold this person in high regard and admire his great communication skills. I really wanted to speak to my colleague but I couldn't quite decipher his message. He spoke so quickly, that after listening to the message three times I couldn't quite get his phone number. This is an all too common problem. I think this goes back to the early days of answering machines when message time was very limited. Today's systems are usually voice actuated and you have all the time necessary to leave a message and your number.

When leaving a message speak slowly and clearly. Speak naturally and let your personality shine through. You may be speaking to a robot but that doesn't mean you have to be one. Leave a message on your own voicemail and listen to how you sound. Voice mail is a fact of life today, leaving good clear messages is an important sales skill

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great prootion idea

A local dentist came up with a great way to promote his practice and get some great PR. In the interest of protecting the teeth of local children he is buying their Halloween Candy. We haven't worked out the ad copy as yet but he is thinking about paying a set price per pound of goodies. He will also give the kids healthy snacks like apples and a coupon for Mom & Dad. To really position himself positively in the eyes of the community, he is going to ship the candy he collects to the local troops in Afghanistan (Tooth decay is the least of their worries).

This promotion is a great way to create a buzz and position the dentist as caring about the community.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Monday, October 5, 2009

Take Time to Listen

Sales people have a reputation for being great talkers. The truth is the best sales people are also great listeners. Listening allows them to understand their customer's needs and to uncover problems that can be solved with their products. Here's a tip that I use to make sure I don't miss anything the customer has to say.

When the customer stops speaking, I silently count to five before responding. This gives my brain time to process the customer's message so that I can give a considered response. It also lets me be sure that the customer has finished speaking. They may be just be taking a breathe or trying to think of a word. The five count lets them continue with their train of thought. By doing this you avoid talking over the customer. A collateral benefit of this technique is that you will sound more intelligent. Intelligent people tend to pause more often and speak more slowly.

The five count rule will make you a better conversationalist and a better sales person.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Is direct mail dead?

According to a postal service study the volume of mail delivered to U.S. homes in 2008 declined by nearly 10 billion pieces from the 2007 total. As mailing decreases, more and more companies are using e-mail to reach out to consumers. Combined these two trends have lead some pundits to declare that "Direct Mail is Dead".

Being a "lemons into lemonade" kind of guy I see a different story in these stats. For many years the big complaint about direct mail was that it was too easy for your message to be lost in the clutter. As mail volumes decrease the impact, and consequently the value, of direct mailed or home delivered publications increases. The opposite is true of e-mail marketing. As more and more messages cram our in boxes, the less likely any message is to be read.

For an ad to have impact two things have to happen. The consumer needs to notice the message and they have to believe there is a benefit in reading it. With fewer pieces in the mailbox, direct mail is a great way to get noticed. It is up to us to create a compelling reason for it to be read.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The "I'm too busy to talk" objection

When confronted with broccoli my son used to say "Save it and I'll eat it later." If my wife and I let him get away with this ploy, "later" would never come. When customers say something like "I am just too busy to talk, call back in a few weeks." you can bet if you called them hourly for the next ten years, you would never catch them during that mythical "slow" time when they will give you all the time you need. Give the customer the benefit of the doubt, but if you get this objection more than once or twice, you need to force the issue.

Lay everything on the line and tell them:

"Mr. Smith, you and I know that you will be just as busy next month. That's why we should talk now. I have some ideas that can help your business. We should meet soon. I promise you that I won't take much of your time and that you'll find it time well spent. Would tomorrow afternoon or morning be better for you?"

One of two things will happen. You'll the appointment or you'll find out that the customer is just stringing you along and wasting your time. This will let you put them on the back burner and free up time to call on better prospects.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 2, 2009

Great quote

Here is this week's quote:

"I can give you a six word formula for success: Think things through--Then follow through."
Eddie Rickenbacker

Rickenbacker led an amazingly successful life. He was a WWI flying ace, a WWII hero and a successful business man who shaped the emerging airline industry.

Every salesperson should burn this quote into their brain. When researchers survey buyers about their complaints about salespeople "Failing to follow up on a promise" is always #1. A lot of business people rely on this to blow off weak sales reps. They say "Get back to me in a couple of weeks and we'll talk" knowing full well that they will never see the rep again.

Follow up is the root of trust, and trust is the key to turning prospects into customers.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Get by with a little help from your friends

I 'll never understand sales people. I've been a sales person most of my life. I've been a sales manager and a sales trainer, but I have never been able to figure out the psyche of sales people.

One of the great sales mysteries that baffles me is "Why don't sales people ask for referrals?." Reps take great pride in their relationships with their clients. Smart reps know that using a referral virtually guarantees an interview and significantly increases the odds of closing a sale. So why does less than one sales person in ten regularly ask for a referral.

Are they afraid that their customer will take offense or feel uncomfortable if they ask for a referral. Asking for a referral is actually a terrific way to compliment your advertiser. In effect you are telling them "I respect you, I know you are connected and I value your opinion" People feel good about helping others. Asking for a referral reinforces your relationship with your customers. Saying "Mr. Customer I really appreciate your business and I enjoy working with you. You've been in business here for a long time, can you think of any other businesses in the area that I might be able to help?" When you get a referral ask "Would it be okay if I used your name?" "Thanks"

Get in the habit of asking for referrals, you'll be amazed at the doors it will open for you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Learning to love change

Most people hate change. As advertising sales people we should embrace any change in our products. Change gives us something new to say to our clients. When a prospect says "I've heard all about your publication!" you can say "No you haven't this is brand new." This is also an opportunity to up sell current accounts. "We have this new feature, I think this would be a great time to review your account and make sure you're getting everything you can out of your program."

Don't fear change, use it to your advantage

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks--Jim Busch

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gen. McChyrstal's Lessons

I have always had a lot of respect for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. Tonight's episode of "6o Minutes" featured an interview with Gen, Stanley McChrystal, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan. The Gen. has had a long, successful career and is one of the most respected officers in the US Army. He makes a point of leading from the front and going out to talk to the troops and and view the situation of his own eyes.

Here are two lessons from Gen McChrystal that we can apply to our business (I am paraphrasing the Gen., I am sure his interview is available on the CBS website):

  • "In most organizations when you ask when something can be done, they reach for a calendar, I want my people to look at their watches." Today's market is faced paced and constantly changing. A sense of urgency gives us a competitive advantage over our competition.
  • General McChrystal holds large information sharing meeting with his officers. When asked if he was afraid this might lead to security leaks he replied "there is a greater danger in not sharing information. Information allows us to work together." A shared vision and teamwork are impossible if anyone is "out of the loop"
The problems we face on our business pale in comparison to the challenges Gen. McChrystal and his troops face everyday. If he makes a mistake people die. Applying his hard won lessons to running our businesses will help win our daily "battles".

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekly quote

Here's one of the best descriptions of good advertising that I've ever heard. This quote is one of the "100 Leo's" that advertising legend Leo Burnett compiled in his book.

Advertising says to people "Here's what we've got. Here's what it will do for you. Here's how to get it."

It doesn't matter if your customer is selling Cadillacs or candy bars, this formula works. In my experience many ads lack the "Here's what it will do for you" portion of the program. This is always a mistake, benefits motivate shoppers to take action.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, September 24, 2009


We all scan our competitor's publications for leads. For most accounts this is one of the best sources of new business. The challenge of doing this for seasonal businesses is that by the time their ad appears, the prospect's budget has already been spent. It is often too late to put together a campaign for this years event.

If I find I am too late to sell a program, I set my sights on the next holiday or the next season. I place a copy of the prospect's ads along with any other information I have collected in my 12 month "tickler" file. I place the information in a folder dated at least two months before the run dates of the ads. This gives me the time to plan and sell the account. My goal is to get to the prospect before my competition.

Selling advertising is a marathon not a sprint. Filing leads away for the next season or the next year, gives us a head start on the competition. After you have done this for a full year, you will have a pipeline full of leads for every season.

Keep smiling, keep selling. Thanks

Jim Busch

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

12 Months of Sales Information

When I arrived at my office this morning, I found my monthly copy of Selling Power in my inbox. I have subscribed to Selling Power for well over twenty years. I subscribe to a number of magazines but this is the only one that I have kept for this long and it is the only magazine I read cover to cover every month.

I like Selling Power because it is written by sales people for sales people. Each month it is packed with practical advice that I can share with my sales reps and managers. Selling Power is a great resource for sales managers and provides pre-packaged training for their sales meetings.

I paged through my copy and the first thing that caught my eye was a one page article titled "Sixteen ways to survive a recession and build your sales", the same edition also features articles on benefit selling, identifying buying motives and much much more. I never put down Selling Power without taking away at least two or three actionable ideas to make me more successful.

Lawyers read the law review to keep up on current case law. Physicians read medical journals to stay abreast of the latest medical research. Sales people need to study their profession as well. Top sales people are always looking for ways to improve their selling skills and enhance their skills. Selling Power magazine is a great resource for anyone who sells for a living (Also check out their great website). A subscription to Selling Power is $33 per year, I guarantee you this is an investment that will pay for itself many times over.

Thanks for reading. Keep smiling, keep selling!

Jim Busch

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting prospects to read your e-mails

E-mail is far from the ideal way to contact a prospect or an advertiser. That pesky little delete button up in the right hand corner of the keyboard makes it way too easy for clients to blow you off. Unfortunately sometimes e-mail is the only way to get your message to a decision maker. This makes mastering the art of the e-mail a crucial skill for the 21st century salesperson. Here are a couple of things to remember before you click "SEND"

"You never get a second chance to make a good 1st impression!"

When you visit a customer at their place of business, the first few seconds of the call sets the tone for the rest of the meeting. A salesperson greatly increases their chance of success if they kick off the call by saying something that engages and interests the customer. This is even more important when sending an e-mail. On a face to face call, your smile or a firm handshake may help open the door. When all you have is a few words in times new roman on the client's monitor, your words have to do the job all by themselves.

Make sure your subject line offers a benefit to the reader. Talk about helping them or making them money. Remember the Internet is the "Information Superhighway". Offer the reader some information that offers a benefit. A subject line that says something like "What businesses in your area are doing the drive sales" or "How Joe's Bakery attracts new customers" uses the readers natural curiosity to inspire readership.

The first paragraph of your message should also be focused on the benefits to the customer. Many people scan the opening of the message in the "preview frame" of their inbox. Your goal is to get them to open your message and read it. If your first few sentences intrigue them this is just what they will do.

E-mail makes communication quick and easy. It is tempting to dash off a message and click send without giving what we're saying much thought. Taking the time to carefully craft a sales e-mail is well worth the effort. One of the benefits of using e-mail is the written word allows you the time to choose words that clearly convey your message. Thinking about what you want to say, and even more important, what the prospect wants to hear is the key to getting your message read. An E-mail may not make a sale for you, but it can help you get an appointment so that you can make one.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think.

Jim B.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Become a "tour"ist

When you are calling on anyone who has a retail store or a facility of any kind, ask the owner for a tour. This is a great way to learn about the client's business. Walking around the business with them will jog their memory and remind them of items they might want to include in their ad. You will uncover important information that might not come out in a Q & A session behind closed office doors.

Taking the "tour" also helps build your relationship with the customer. Business people are proud of their operation and will appreciate your interest in it. By taking the customer out of the office you step out of the "ME SALESPERSON, YOU PROSPECT" roles that often block open communication. By changing the physical context of the call, you'll find the customer will reveal information that you will may learn at their desk. Doing this will help you to see the business through the customer's eyes.

Asking for a tour separates you from the bulk of sales people who only want to talk about their products. Showing interest in the customer's business sets you apart from the crowd and that is never a bad thing.

Please leave me you thoughts on this or any other subject related to selling advertising. I am especially interested in your success stories and in learning any techniques that have worked for you.

Thanks--Jim Busch

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Quote

I have a confession to make. I am a lifelong apothegmatist. What is a apothegmatist? I collect apothegms, which is the ten dollar word for a quote. I have always been amazed by the power of language to influence us and see things in a new way. A good quotation delivers an important idea in an easily understood concise package.

Every week for over twenty years, I have shared a quote with my friends and co-workers. Starting today this will be a regular feature of this blog. I will also include a few of my thoughts on the quotes message. I would be happy to hear from you on some of your favorite quotes.

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder that one closed by belief."
Gary Spence

This may sound a little spacey but I think it has a direct bearing on what we do.The successful person doesn't know in advance that they will succeed. Most successful people fail many times before they reach their goal. They "wonder" if something will work and they give it a try. Failures think "I don't believe this will work work" or "I don't believe this customer will buy." Possessing a healthy sense of wonder is a sure predictor of success.

By the way Gary Spence was a successful trial lawyer who wrote several books. His "How to argue and win every time" is well worth reading.

Thanks for reading.

Jim B.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The most valuable card in my wallet

"Outside of a dog a book is man's best friend, inside of a dog it is too dark to read"
Groucho Marx

I was talking with a chiropractor who advertises in my paper. He told me that a lot of back pain is caused by sitting on a thick wallet in a back pocket. Since most people carry little cash these days, why are our wallets bulging? It is because in addition to our cash we carry a thick stack of cards. Visa, MasterCard, Amex cards, store credit cards, & retail shopper cards share the space with our ID and cash. It is hard to imagine living in the modern world without these little plastic rectangles. We guard these cards carefully because they literally contain our lives. I carry all the usual cards but there is one card that I value over all the others. It is not a gold or platinum credit card but my library card.

As a sales person, manager and trainer I need to be a walking resource to my customers and coworkers. I need to constantly build my skills. My library card allows me to do this on the cheap. When I started my career in advertising, I knew very little about the industry. To remedy this problem, I hit the card catalog (It was a long time ago) of the local Carnegie library. Over the course of a year I read everything they had on the subject. My teachers were the greats of the advertising world. I read John Caples, David Ogilvy and Rosser Reeves. I combined my "book learning" with what I learned from my manager and from the experienced reps to become an expert in my field.

Today I manage my reading on the library web site, but I am still a regular customer. I read the latest books on sales, advertising and business in general. The library provides me with a continuous supply of audiobooks on CD to make my "windshield time" more productive. Our local Carnegie lets me access the collections of libraries across the state so I can usually find what I am looking for.

I keep a notebook where I jot down the ideas that I find particularly useful. When I find a book that really impresses me I will purchase it. I refer to my personal library and my notes whenever I am asked to do a training or when I face a challenge. This old school data base saves me a lot of time and helps me to be more effective. By broadening my knowledge, I am able to connect with more customers and have a bigger bag of tricks to use on calls.

A library card is the bet deal in town. It costs nothing to acquire, but will deliver immeasurable benefits for years to come. My library card has allowed me to tap into the minds of some of the world's greatest thinkers. Knowledge is truly power, my library card has given me the power to connect with other people and persuade them to my cause. My library card not only helps me to become a better sales rep, manager and trainer but it makes me a better person. My library card is without a doubt the most valuable card in my wallet.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Word of Mouth Objection #2

When I was a sales rep I liked to experiment with off the wall techniques. I went to a local quick print shop and bought a box of business cards saying:

Word of Mouth Advertising
Jim Busch
Local Representative

When someone would give me the WOM objection, I would say "Excellent!" and hand them the card. They would respond with either a perplexed look or laughter. Either way I had a reason to start a conversation. I explained that getting word of mouth actually made advertising more effective. A customer who gets two referrals from every new customer gets a triple response from the ad. (The responder + 2 additional referrals).

A print ad also locks in the WOM referrals for the advertiser. Some one might say "You should try my hair dresser, they're down on Main Street." It is unlikely that they will give you the number or hand you a card. You might tuck the referral away in the back of your mind, but unless you are actively in the market at that precise moment you are unlikely to take action. When that person sees an ad for the salon on Main St. it brings the referral to mind. "That's the place so and so told me about, I'll give them a call." When they call for an appointment they will mention the referral but never mention the paper. A consistent advertising program will increase the amount of WOM the business receives.

Thanks for reading.

Jim B.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The "Word of Mouth" Objection #1

"I really don't need to advertise. I get all of my business by word of mouth." "Word of Mouth" is a tough compeititor, it's free and generally it comes from a trusted source. My next few blogs will discuss handling this objection.

When I hear the WOM objection, I avoid challenging the prospect. I begin by praising them, "Congratulations, you must certainly be doing something right for customers to recommend your business so often. What are they saying about what you do here." This strategy pushes the objection aside and engages the customer in a discussion about their business. If the customer is simply using the WOM objection to chase you away, the objection will evaporate as they tell you about their favorite subject--themselves. If you challenge the customer, you force them to defend their initial statement. By accepting their statement at face value you create an opportunity to build rapport and begin probing for needs.

Next time we'll look at another technique to handle the WOM objection.

Thanks--Jim B


Welcome to Ideas and Eyeballs.

This blog is dedicated to helping advertising sales people and advertising sales managers achieve their goals. My goal is to provide front line sales people with practical information that they can use to make more sales and better serve their advertisers. After 30 years as a sales person, sales manager and sales trainer, I believe I can offer you some unique insights. My career takes me around the country and I get to talk to some of the most successful people in the industry. I am also a bit of a "sales geek", I spend a lot of time reading books on sales, advertising, marketing and psychology.

I love to talk to other sales people and learn from them. Unfortunately I can't sit down with each of you and have a face to face conversation. Fairfax Cone once said "Advertising is what you do when you can't go see somebody," the same could be said of this blog. Knowledge is useless, unless it is shared, this blog is my way of sharing what I have learned and I hope you will want to share your thoughts with me.

My goal is to post at least twice week. Initially I will do this on Monday and Thursday mornings. Thank you for reading this.

Thanks--Jim B.