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In sales, think of the RFP - request for proposal - as the equivalent of the waiting to get to the other side of velvet rope. It's essentially a last-minute invitation to compete for a client's business. By the time you get it, you can be sure that that client isn't contacting you primarily because he thinks you've got fantastic ideas and great creative media solutions. He's contacting you because he's already gone through the big decisions about what kind of media he wants to use to solve his company's particular needs, and now he's looking for the best price.
Trust me: The velvet rope is not where you want to be, either in sales or clubs. You want to be one of those people who's swept through the door early because your presence is valued. And in the sales game - as in society - the way you get there is by establishing a relationship long before the event. This has become particularly true now that we're in the age of integrated media.
Today's advertisers aren't simply interested in choosing the "best" magazine, Website or TV program (however they define "best") for bringing their product to their end users. Instead, they also want to use media in creative ways to solve marketing problems. This means you, a sales professional, need to be on hand to help the client understand their sales challenges and select the best combination of media to meet their needs. Even if they have their own advisers, when you become their best advocate, you can get beyond the velvet rope.
Here's an example. Say you work for a consumer automotive publication and your client is Goodwheels, a number-three tire manufacturer among car customizers. For years, your client has struggled for number two by increasing its distribution network and investing in public relations. But while brand awareness has gone up, sales and perception haven't budged: The tires are still seen as old-fashioned and non-innovative. As a salesperson , it's not your job to now push an ad schedule at Goodwheels. That's just the sales equivalent of crashing a party. Instead, take the time to understand how Goodwheels will make its ultimate decision on a marketing program
An exciting speaker and inspiring sales mentor, Helen Berman has appeared at dozens of media conferences and seminars worldwide, in addition to writing popular sales columns for Folio and Expo magazines. She's also written the two-volume book, Ad Sales: Winning Secrets of the Magazine Pros and is working on a new book, Integrated Media Sales: Beyond the Page, Beyond the Banner. To contact Helen directly, call 310-230-3899 or learn more online www.helenberman.com
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