The end of 2023 is closing in fast. And as an ad salesperson who spends a lot of time in the media business and digital technology, this fact makes me pause and think: what am I going to do to get my clients and prospects to go ahead and sign on the dotted line?
This question is an important one to address in any type of media sales training, actually – whether it’s magazine sales training, TV sales training, radio sales training or any kind of broadcast sales training. We have got to be thinking, what can I do to convert clients and prospects into sales? What kinds of urgency levers can I pull?
All throughout the year in my ad sales training and in my own ad sales, I’ve worked to put urgency triggers into place. And now it’s time to act. It’s time to pull those levers. It’s time to help make our prospects take action.
If you’ve been to the Niche Media Conference you’ve probably learned to put these levers into place already. But here’s a refresher to help you close out some sales before the end of the year.
These are proven sales tactics that work for me.
Lever No. 1: Instill FOMO, right on the spot.
A lot of salespeople like to present their goods and their value proposition and then leave to create a proposal for the prospect. And there are certain circumstances where you have to do that. A lot of my competitors definitely do that.
But I’ve realized this and I share it continually in my ad sales training: I don’t need to leave to create a proposal. I’m not selling rocket science gear or brain surgery equipment. And even if I was, I’d still come with pricing ready to go.
This is why — I want somebody to consider my proposal while I’m right there in front of them.
Now, you may be thinking, “what about the customer needs assessment?” And this is something I’ve been talking about for years in media sales training. But shouldn’t we truthfully be calling what most salespeople do a “customer wants” assessment? And if you give somebody what they want, you have a customer for a very short period of time.
But if you give somebody what they need or if you advise them, recommend and guide them towards what they need, then you’ve got a customer forever.
No matter what you’re selling, think about it. You probably already have a really sound idea when you walk into a meeting what that customer needs to do. So I don’t look at these meetings as though I’m starting from square one.
I look at these meetings as they’re trusting me to come to them with ideas and recommendations, ready to go. And I’m asking questions to fine-tune my recommendations. (Are there circumstances where you’ve got to gather information, take it away and assess it before you can make sound recommendations as a salesperson? Of course, but as I remind people in my media sales training, those are exceptions.)
So, let’s say that you’re at the very end of the sales process and you need to give your prospect a price, and maybe you don’t have it. Then ballpark it. And I say this from experience.
I consult with 15 different industries in my media sales training, and in some of them people are selling $50 million planes, and still, they don’t say, “Let’s end this meeting and I’ll go create a proposal for you.” The price is what it is.
Ninety percent of the time, no matter what I’m advising on or selling, I need to get a level of excitement going on that sales call.
How I do that and how I keep the meeting going is this: I use the techniques of social proof or social stacking.
In social proof I may say, “We’ve worked with company A, company B and company C, and they’ve all seen great success with us.” And right there, I’ve given them social proof of my product’s ability to help customers succeed at whatever industry they’re in.
A social stack looks like this. “We’ve got this great idea and we wanted to start with your company first. There’s company A, B and C – and we think they would all benefit from this – but we’re starting with you.”
In either circumstance, with social proof or social stacking, you’re banking on FOMO, the fear of missing out. And FOMO creates some sense of urgency.
FOMO is an extremely effective lever you can pull.
Lever No. 2: Create a penalty for waiting.
It looks like this: “If you sign today, this is the price. If you sign tomorrow, that is the price.”
So, if they sign today the price is $100. If they sign tomorrow, it’s $200. If they sign six months from now, it’s going to be $500.
Essentially, you’re penalizing them for waiting.
Admittedly, most salespeople I run across in my ad sales training don’t like this strategy because they can’t handle the pressure.
Lever No. 3: Offer incentives – bonuses – for buying today.
Discounting or offering incentives for people to sign on the dotted line is super common. And it is also super expected by your clients. And yet, it works – the longer they wait, the more they lose.
Here’s a basic example of what you might say. “If you can make this decision today or within the next 72 hours (or something similar, but be sure you give them a time frame), you’re going to get these five additional things.” And then you name off those five things that you have determined you can give.
Now, after the week is up or the 72 hours or whatever time frame you have put in place, you need at least 50% of those things to go away – or, you can take them all away if you want to do that.
You’ve got to be careful though, because people will call your bluff. It’s actually a pretty common tendency because we, as salespeople, will likely hear some of our clients and prospects say, “Okay, I’m ready to make a decision.” But they will say if AFTER the time frame we set has already passed. When that happens, some salespeople cave and out comes, “Yeah, that pricing expired two weeks ago, but I’ll go ahead and give it to you.”
Well guess what, friends? They know you’re going to do it.
So, remember this: there’s a certain point in time where I believe you’ve got to burn a client every now and then. You’ve got to let them know that you’re serious, as I say in my media sales training.
However, in an effort to not burn them too badly or make them seriously angry, one of the things I like to say upfront is, “I know that with a lot of salespeople, after this two weeks is up, if you decide you want to go with the offer later they’re still going to give you the discount. So I just want you to know that my boss (my owner or whatever the case may be, but blame it on someone else) is not going to honor it after this particular point in time.”
So you want to give them some time incentive and then in the end, if they try to call your bluff, you actually stick to the deal. And you could say, “Oh man, that’s expired. I mean, I guess I could go to my boss and see.”
But when you come back, don’t give them everything. For example, I may say, “We couldn’t do everything that we had before, but we can at least give you 50% of the bonuses we had to offer originally.”
Then they’ll feel like they at least got something out of it. And maybe next time you come back to them, they won’t sit on an offer and wait quite so long.
Lever No. 4: Entice with a rate protection scenario.
Rate protection is especially effective right now because everybody is raising rates on everything. So rate protection is a great lever to pull.
Drawing from what I tell my ad sales training crew, here’s an example of what you might say to put this lever into play.
“If you sign by Christmastime, you can still take advantage of the 2023 rates, because we’re going up 65% (or whatever the case may be) in 2024.”
Now, keep in mind, you want to make sure that the rate increase you are citing is very, very clear. I generally don’t talk to people in terms of percentages, for instance. I’m very concrete. If they would be able to save 25% or 28%, these percentages will need to be calculated into actual dollars for them to make sure they fully understand.
Rate protection is a very good, strong lever you can potentially pull, in my experience.
In the grand scheme of the sales world, there are actually a lot of levers you can pull in addition to social proof and social stacking, fear of missing out, and — the most common levers – those that involve some form of financial incentive.
Hear this too, because this is really important and I share it all the time in media sales training that I conduct: whichever triggers you decide to create and urgency levers you decide to pull, don’t wait until the last minute.
The old saying “failure to plan is planning to fail” comes to mind. Get your urgency levers figured out, test them, structure them, and make sure you’re not repeatedly going to discounts to get somebody to a sense of urgency about the sale.
Before I close, there’s one other thing that’s critically important to add. A lot of times, your clients and prospects genuinely need some time to think about an offer. They’ve got to talk to the boss and run it up the flag pole. It’s a big expenditure. They want to think about it. So I strive to always give someone at least 72 hours to think about things.
If you can get away with doing the deal in a day, rock on with your bad self — that’s awesome. But waiting two weeks, that’s way too long. Even one week is stretching it, actually.
So, for me as an ad sales rep, allowing my clients and prospects to come back to me within the next 72 hours, or a time frame very close to that, is an effective and realistic urgency lever, I’ve found.
But in the end, you’ve got to figure out the urgency levers you can pull that are truly going to impact your sales game. And then don’t forget them — don’t keep them hidden. They are powerful tools in your sales arsenal.
In closing, if sales was an easy job everybody would be doing it. And they’re not. But this is a great career, one that I promise you will feed you for a lifetime. If you want more information about sales urgency levers, head over to Amazon and check out my book, Selling Forward. Subscribe to the podcast or the YouTube channel, as well, and share these resources with your friends.
And remember to use those urgency levers to move the needle forward and get some sales action out of your customers before the year closes out.