Objection handling is a skill that every media salesperson must master. Amidst selling during this global pandemic, objection handling has taken a little bit of a different twist. Having worked with almost 30,000 salespeople around the globe, I would say that objection handling is a skill that most salespeople think they have mastered, but most fail when they are put on the spot. Handling objections and not coming across as argumentative or arrogant is a lot about being well-practiced. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times—professionals practice, and amateurs wing it. Who do you want to be?
Objections occur in three places that are easy to replicate: when booking meetings, when you’re face-to-face, or when you are virtually hosting a sales call. Preparation is the key.
At face value, I would say that most objections from advertisers are best handled with a success story and not a fact or a statistic. Right now, our most recent data suggests that seven out of 10 of our advertisers are buying from an emotional perspective. We have to be very careful about using statistics and data in the sales process. Of course, using data does have its place, but I think you’ll see below that when we dissect the six most common media sales objections, there are several ways we can handle them without having to give a fact or a stat. You will notice that these are written out much like a script. Please do not come across to your advertisers as a script-based sales executive. Rather, this is set up in such a way that you can practice with yourself as you prepare to be ready to roll.
Common Media Objection #1
Advertiser says: I’m good.
Media Sales Executive: Good as in? (Be silent and listen.)
Advertiser says: We have enough business.
Media Sales Executive: Great. Sounds like we need to move you from a new customer marketing plan to a thanking your current customer’s plan. You do want to thank your current customers right? Our marketing options offer more than just new customers. We help your customers engage more deeply with you as well.
Common Media Objection #2
Advertiser says: We are cutting back on marketing until the pandemic is over.
Media Sales Executive: I can certainly understand your concern. When you say “pandemic is over,” what does that mean to you?
Advertiser says: We’ll over...dead...etc.
Media Sales Executive: My concern is that we have a moving date target here that is very hard to predict. Also, people are highly distracted with COVID. Advertising does not produce instantaneous results. People need to see your ad many times before they can react. Other business owners like you are keeping their name out there so when the customer is ready to engage, they think of you first. That is the key. Do you feel that your business is top of mind?
Common Media Objection #3
Advertiser says: I have no budget.
Media Sales Executive: What about Advertiser A, B and C? (Name three current advertisers.)
Advertiser says: What about them?
Media Sales Executive: I truly feel that your absence is their opportunity. They are all seeing results after a few months of marketing with us. How about I quickly show you some marketing ideas that are working?
Common Media Objection #4
Advertiser says: My Facebook page works well for me.
Media Sales Executive: I love to hear that you believe in marketing on social. We love social media too. The issue is that nearly every business is competing for eyes on Facebook. So, what are you doing to stand out from your competitors? (Don’t forget to also explain that social and digital are different.)
Common Media Objection #5
Advertiser says: No one reads the paper/magazine anymore.
Media Sales Executive: May I ask you a question? (Yes.) Whatever your answer is, please don’t worry about hurting my feelings. Do you personally read our newspaper? (No.) It is not surprising at all for me to hear that “no one reads the paper” when you yourself do not read the paper. It’s okay. The survey of one is totally normal. What I can tell you is this: If we published even one sentence of negativity about you, your feelings would be different about how many people read the paper. Your phone would ring off the hook. Traditional media is not a get-rich-quick plan. It is a tested and proven way to put your name in front of X number of readers every week so that when a customer is ready to buy, you are the business they think of first.
Common Media Objection #6
Advertiser says: Word of mouth is my best marketing vehicle.
Media Sales Executive: The problem with word of mouth is that you lose control of your marketing message. You are asking untrained people to carry your marketing message to the masses. Are you confident that they will say what you want them to say about your business?
Advertiser says: Yes, I am.
Media Sales Executive: What if they had a bad experience and did not tell you?
Advertiser says: What do you mean?
Media Sales Executive: In a word of mouth scenario, a bad experience can spiral out of control on social media.
Were you aware that seven in 10 professional sales executives have never taken any type of formal sales training? I guess that’s good for me being in the sales training business, but it’s a bit scary to think about so many people selling without a formal framework for sales success. Objection handling is one of the most critical skill sets that every serious media sales executive should possess. I encourage you to use these and other scenarios to create some type of flashcard system where you can practice with your peers. I’m not a big fan of role playing, but I do see how practice makes perfect. A lot of times role playing just becomes a joke and it’s not terribly productive. Serious practice will produce serious results. I would find a practice partner. Somone you trust. Practice these one-on-one until you are smooth and prepared. The worse thing to do is practice when you are on a sales call. Your advertisers deserve better than that.
Ryan Dohrn is a 30-year veteran media sales pro and marketer. He is an Emmy Award winning motivational speaker and is a sales coach to more than 200 media companies. Find him at 360AdSales.com.