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.