As advertising sales professionals, we all recognize we’re selling in a media landscape that’s tougher than ever before. So what are we going to do to control the conversation with advertisers? How will we command that conversation? And then, ultimately, convert the conversation to a sale?
In my media sales training, I focus on the three C’s: control, command and convert. These three things allow you to cultivate a repeatable pattern of success.
Let’s look at these three in the context of the sales conversation. It’s a conversation you need to learn to control if you want to see results.
Control and command
We’ve all got a pitch, a sales sheet and demos. But making the sale is really all about a conversation, now more than ever. Consider that 86% of buyers report that they’d rather go to the dentist than talk to a sales professional, like us. So when we’re actually talking to an advertiser—it’s really all about having a great conversation.
How do we control the conversation? There are two ways: the use of silence and the use of cadence.
When you’re talking with a potential advertiser, it’s important to really understand the power of silence in a conversation—it’s what some people in the good old days called a “pregnant pause,” or “pause for effect.” But most sales people today don’t really understand what silence can do for them.
When I’m having a conversation with somebody, and I want them to understand what I’m talking about—it’s the pauses that give people a chance to understand. The silence allows absorption of the information. So I always stress this in my ad sales training: Use silence and pauses to aid in absorption, in retention, and in understanding.
This type of control isn’t always easy, though. If you’re like me, I operate at 198 mph all the time, non-stop. But I have to ask, am I getting good absorption from the person I’m trying to sell to? If I’m operating way too fast, the answer is no. That’s why I have a post-it note stuck to my computer that says “Slow the heck down.”
So what I have to understand is cadence—and how to control it. Cadence is that thing in the background that you hear in a marching band, in a metronome. But if the cadence is one steady beat, it might sound good overall, but it doesn’t cause people to ebb and flow with you throughout a conversation.
So instead of one steady beat, your conversation with advertisers needs to follow a cadence that’s a lot like a symphony. It’s not like a military march, because that steady cadence doesn’t work in sales.
And remember, your cadence in sales can not be going 90 miles an hour, either.
So to get my conversation with a buyer to sound more like a symphony, what I like to do is speed up my cadence, and then slow it down. I’ll speed up as I’m talking about certain things, and then I’ll slow it down when I want deep understanding.
So both silence and cadence are things I use to control the conversation with an advertiser or prospect. And these are tools I emphasize in my ad sales training.
The power of a whisper
Sometimes when I want to control and command the conversation, I’ll actually whisper.
In an agency meeting not long ago I noticed that a lot of people were looking at their cell phones, and they weren’t paying attention to me. So what I did was change the volume of my voice and I changed the cadence of the conversation, and I noticed they all looked back up. And once they did I sped back up again, kind of like a DJ on a dance floor.
You might say, “Seriously, Ryan. Do you really have to be this dramatic?” And the answer is yes, for effect.
You have to understand that great salespeople vary their cadence and volume instinctively. If you remember in the movie Wall Street, at one point Leonardo DiCaprio’s character was trying to model proper sales. And he drove home the fear of missing out by whispering on the phone to the person he was talking to.
If you want to control and command the conversation in sales, you have to learn how to whisper, too … because it’s dramatic, and it drives effect.
As an aside, I stress this too in my ad sales training: A good story wrapped with data is going to sell better than stats that are flat. Remember that in your conversation with a buyer, as well.
So here’s what all this looks like. When I’m in a sales conversation and I’m excited about an idea or a media product, I’m going to speed up my cadence and drive excitement about it. But when I need someone to understand what I’m saying, I’m going to slow down, lower my volume, and I might even whisper, and then I’m gonna pause—to really make sure they understand. I might even ask, “Is this making sense to you?” “Does that resonate with you?” “Do you have any questions?”
Controlling, commanding and converting the conversation is really a higher level, advanced selling strategy. It’s difficult to teach this to someone who doesn’t know anything about their product. If you don’t know about your product, I can’t really teach you cadence.
So I emphasize in my media sales training that you have to really understand your product set, so it becomes second nature. Then I can coach you on proper cadence to control, command and convert that conversation.
Then once you understand your product well, you’re going to have to rehearse to have great conversations. I know you’re thinking, “Awww, Ryan. Are we talking about role playing again?” I’m talking about practice. Tiger Woods is going to hit thousands of golf balls a week to stay the best. You’re gonna have to practice, too, if you’re going to learn to convert that conversation to a sale.
Control the follow up
Another thing you have to control is the follow up. You can have the best conversation with someone, but if they take control of the follow up, it’s no good. We need to pull out our phone and set up the next follow up meeting.
And then if they don’t show up for their sales follow up meeting, ask them what THEY want you to do. How do they want you to follow up? What works best for them?
Convert, the end goal
So to sum up, the 3 C’s, control, command and convert, are about understanding cadence and realizing what you can do to control the conversation.
If you want to get better in sales, you’re going to have to learn to control the next steps. If you’re going to know how to convert that conversation, you’re going to have to know how to control that conversation.
Every day does not have to be a brand new day in sales land. It really doesn’t have to be. You and I can be better because we look at—and we cultivate—repeatable patterns of success. If we’re going to command the conversation, we have to control the conversation. If we’re going to convert the conversation, we have to control the follow up. It’s all about control and command—if we want to convert our conversations to sales.
Remember, if ad sales was easy, everyone would be doing it!
About this blogger:
Ryan Dohrn is an award winning ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant, and an international motivational speaker. He is the author of the best-selling ad sales book, Selling Backwards. Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media and 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique ad sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting, and media revenue generation. Ryan is also the Publisher of http://salestrainingworld.com“>Sales Training World.
Ryan R. Dohrn
360 Ad Sales Training and Strategy
Brain Swell Media LLC
Follow him on Twitter.com/ryandohrn for daily tips and advice.