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There are NO shortcuts...

Last week, Bill, a top-billing marketing consultant, asked his former manager for recommendations for a client that would be appropriate for a sponsorship package. The former manager sold that sponsorship 21 years ago and knew the value of it, the benefits of doing it and that it was a prime opportunity for someone. The manager suggested a name, a client he had known and done business with for many years. Bill checked the account list, and it was an open account. Because the manager had a relationship with the client, he set up the meeting. It had been a few weeks since the manager presented to a client, so there was excitement — this was going to be a blast.

When the manager set up the meeting, Bill even asked: "Should we do a C.N.A. at this meeting, or just present the sponsorship?" Knowing how hard it is to get facetime with this client — he's not an easy client. They had the meeting, and the former manager felt like it might be a one-shot deal and suggested they go in with the ask. MISTAKE.

Bill and his former manager did their very best to explain the details of the sponsorship and why it was such a great opportunity for this client, and it truly was. He's an internet/telecom company and the sponsorship they were sharing involved the weather and gave him massive frequency to be the exclusive sponsor.

Here's where it hurts... After they did an eloquent job explaining how this plan would benefit the client, the client said, "Let me explain how my business works." Ouch. See where this is going? He explained that massive reach and frequency, while nice, do more harm than good. In order to get new customers, he must install fiber optic cable to their address, which is very expensive. As a result, he doesn't cover the entire city, let alone the coverage area of the station. He explained that what they've been doing is sending postcards to individual addresses as they are expanding, letting the business or residence know that they would have fiber-optic cable in the area. His concern with the plan presented is that it would generate lots of calls and interest from people that he currently doesn't service or can't yet, and that would make them mad. He's right.

Clearly knowing that information going in, they might have instead presented a geofencing solution, or a targeted display campaign that would maximize the digital resources of Bill's media company and do the rolling announcements by street or zip code instead of a massive reach campaign. This would be far cheaper than sending out postcards.

Bill explained that solution to the client and he said, "That, I would be very interested in." So, Bill will take it from here, present digital solutions that are address-based, and most importantly, based on the way this client does business and expands his business. Bill will likely get the sale.

At RAB, we teach the 7 Steps to Selling Success, and that there are no shortcuts. Even seasoned veterans can make mistakes. Bill's instinct was spot-on, and his former manager should have followed Bill's instinct. The lesson for all of us: Don't ask for business unless you first understand the client’s business — no matter how well you think you know the client, or how excited you are about the opportunity.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development, RAB