I recently had a conversation with a media rep who has been successfully selling radio for a little over two years. She indicated that she was renewing nearly 100% of her annual contracts, however, she was not having any luck at all in upselling her clients.
After probing with a few more questions, I asked her the ultimate question, “When and how are you starting the renewal process?” In this week’s topic, we will focus on the “when”. Like many reps, she explained that she makes her renewal presentations two to three weeks prior to the contract “end date”.
I then asked her why she had decided on this two to three-week time frame. Her answer, which matches many other reps that I’ve had this same conversation with, was “I don’t want to come across as being too pushy”.
I can understand her stance on this. I too will go to extra lengths to not come across as being pushy. However, I really cannot think of a situation where the timing of making a presentation will come across as being too pushy.
So, when should the renewal and upsell process begin? I would suggest that you “start” the process a maximum of 3 months out and a minimum of 2 months out. Why so far out? Let’s be honest, how many times have you approached your client saying you’d like to present next year’s plan and the first thing they say is, “I’m too busy. Let’s look at it in a few weeks”. They’ll say this or provide some other objection whether it’s three weeks or three months prior to the end of the contract.
When you started the process only weeks in advance of the contract date, how many times did the client ultimately end up saying, “Let’s just do what we did last year.”?
The fact is, if approached correctly, starting 2 to 3 months out will allow you to be less pushy than if you start only weeks in advance.
There is much more to the proper process of getting renewals signed on time, especially when asking for an upsell. We will save that for next week.
Until then, as you approach renewals of your current contracts, keep in mind, the early bird has a much better chance of catching the worm!
While interviewing prospective media sales reps and visiting with seasoned sales reps, every once in a while I meet people who proudly proclaim their strength to be, “I’ve got the gift of gab.” They say this as it’s a strength instead of a potential weakness.
In sales, the “gift of gab” can oftentimes be more aptly described as “the curse of chatter”, or more to the point as someone that “doesn’t know when to shut up”!
Successful sales professionals know that sales is really more about listening than it is about talking.
Those with the curse more often engage in product-feature speak than they do in providing customer-focused solutions or opportunities.
Customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care….and caring is demonstrated by listening.
Listening is by far the most important skill a sales professional can learn and practice. The salespeople who annoy and alienate prospects the most are those who claim to be good listeners but follow every customer objection with a “yah, but…..“
There is no room for the word “but” in a good listener’s vocabulary. To be a professional listener you need to:
1.) Be Prepared. Earn the right to ask questions by learning something about the prospect’s business before you make a call.
2.) Ask open-ended questions that encourage the prospect to express their views and feelings.
3.) Demonstrate you are listening by taking notes. (Always ask permission to take notes, i.e. “Your input is important to me; do you mind if I take a few notes?”)
4.) Paraphrase and summarize what you hear. Don’t start a debate.
5.) Use the language and needs you hear the customer express when you make your presentation.
6.) Make certain that every benefit you present relates to a need you heard the prospect express.
There is a lot more money to be made being interested than there is in being interesting.
So, instead of proving that you have the “gift of gab”, shut up and… Just Listen!